Marilynne Robinson


This former UW grad student attained literary immortality via that most swiftly mortal of literary enterprises, a dissertation. As Robinson labored toward her Ph.D, she scribbled memorable phrases on pieces of paper, which somehow—many of us would kill to know precisely how—accumulated into the legendary 1981 first novel Housekeeping. Her second, Gilead, finally arrived in 2005 and earned her a Pulitzer Prize. The tale of a 76-year-old Iowa preacher preparing to die keeps one foot in the hereafter, alternating between his mutedly ecstatic poetical meditations on miraculous homely moments of small-town life and musings about whether, when he meets his estranged son again, they will occupy immortal bodies of the same adult age. No one on Earth writes like Robinson. The topic for her lecture tonight is “A Sense of Where We Are: History and Literature of the Pacific Northwest.”

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