American Literature


PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 May, 2009, 12:00am


by Marilynne Robinson

Virago, HK$104

Home is Marilynne Robinson's third novel in about 30 years. Before you label the Idaho-born author a slacker, I should point out that her debut, published in 1981, was Housekeeping - named by The Observer newspaper as one of the 100 greatest novels ever written. The 2005 follow-up, Gilead, won the Pulitzer Prize, confirming Robinson as one of the finest writers at work. Home only enhances her status. Returning to Gilead, the town she etched so clearly in her last book, we follow the same two families (the Ames and the Broughtons) but from slightly different points of view. Taking the place of Gilead's intimate first-person narration (John Ames' spiritual memoir for his son) is a third-person voice that adds new dimensions to the story. Driving the narrative is Jack Broughton, the black sheep of the family, who returns to a home he never liked after a life away he didn't enjoy much more. His arrival does to the Broughtons what a bowling ball does to a set of pins: those knocked down first are Jack's father and his sister, Glory. Not much happens in Home. There aren't many laughs. But you will cry and wonder at the wise beauty of it all.