Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead is clearly a modern classic, and it hasn’t even been in print for five minutes. It’s a beautiful, rich, unforgettable work of high seriousness, and you don’t need to know that the book has already won the Pulitzer Prize to see that Robinson isn’t messing around. I didn’t even mind that it’s essentially a book about Christianity, narrated by a Christian; in fact, for the first time I understood the point of Christianity – or at least, I understood how it might be used to assist thought.
I had to reread passages from Gilead several times – beautiful, luminous passages about grace, and debt, and baptism – before I half-understood them, however: there are complicated and striking ideas on every single page.
This is from the August 2005 column. I can only agree with everything he says about Gilead. It’s one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read. And I must buy a copy of that too, sometime!