"Gilead is a beautiful work--demanding, grave and lucid . . . Robinson's words have a spiritual force that's very rare in contemporary fiction." --James Wood, The New York Times Book Review
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Featuring: Reverend John Ames; John Ames Boughton
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2005 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction
2004 National Book Critics Circle Winner
In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he
begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and
his forebears. Ames is the son of an Iowan preacher and the
grandson of a minister who, as a young man in Maine, saw a
vision of Christ bound in chains and came west to Kansas to
fight for abolition: He "preached men into the Civil War,"
then, at age fifty, became a chaplain in the Union Army,
losing his right eye in battle. Reverend Ames writes to his
son about the tension between his father--an ardent
pacifist--and his grandfather, whose pistol and bloody
shirts, concealed in an army blanket, may be relics from
the fight between the abolitionists and those settlers who
wanted to vote Kansas into the union as a slave state. And
he tells a story of the sacred bonds between fathers and
sons, which are tested in his tender and strained
relationship with his namesake, John Ames Boughton, his
best friend's wayward son.
This is also the tale of another remarkable vision--not a
corporeal vision of God but the vision of life as a
wondrously strange creation. It tells how wisdom was forged
in Ames's soul during his solitary life, and how history
lives through generations, pervasively present even when
betrayed and forgotten.
Gilead is the long-hoped-for second novel by one of our
finest writers, a hymn of praise and lamentation to the God-
haunted existence that Reverend Ames loves passionately,
and from which he will soon part.
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