“So Deep a Wound”: Garrett Keizer on “Home”

not entirely my own take on things, but it will be a while before I can write up my own response to this novel with honesty and peace of mind, I think; in the meantime, this is very spoilerous, so you should read Gilead and Home and then read this!

Had I an atheist friend who asked, “Can you tell me please what this religion business is all about, not as some metaphysical hypothesis or historical phenomenon, but what it really means to be religious?” I might hand him or her a copy of Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead. “Read this,” I’d say, “and it will give you a pretty good idea.”

And had I a religious friend, a co-religionist friend, who asked, “Can you tell me please what’s wrong with us, not the obvious corruptions of the gospel that any sophomore skeptic can point out, but the fundamental sicknesses that live so close to the core of our faith that one has to wonder if they’re not essential to the faith itself?” I might recommend Robinson’s latest novel Home. “Read this,” I’d say, “and it might give you a clue.”

But if my inquisitive friend were not so much interested in religious matters as in the possibilities of fiction or in my own opinion as to what describes a great writer of fiction, I would hand him or her the two novels at once. “Read these,” I’d say, “and then consider that the same person was capable of writing them both.”

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