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Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349011790

Price: £9.99

ON SALE: 15th April 2021

Genre: Fiction & Related Items

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‘[Her work] defines universal truths about what it means to be human’ Barack Obama

Marilynne Robinson is one of the greatest writers of our time’ Sunday Times

Jack is the fourth in Robinson’s luminous, profound Gilead series and perhaps the best yet’ Observer

Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the American National Humanities Medal, returns to the world of Gilead with
Jack, the final in one of the great works of contemporary American fiction.

Jack tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the loved and grieved-over prodigal son of a Presbyterian minister in Gilead, Iowa, a drunkard and a ne’er-do-well. In segregated St. Louis sometime after World War II, Jack falls in love with Della Miles, an African-American high school teacher, also a preacher’s child, with a discriminating mind, a generous spirit and an independent will. Their fraught, beautiful story is one of Robinson’s greatest achievements.


Jack - the fourth in Marilynne Robinson's Gilead series - follows a wayward son who absconded from the rigours of his Calvinist home into a life of petty crime and moral doubt. This is his story: the hesitant wooing of a black schoolteacher, their blossoming love, her family's rejection of that love and his settling of their future. The segregationist background makes for troubled events; the characters' inner confusions make for tenderness in the telling. Robinson rewards our high expectations
Joan Bakewell, New Statesman (Best books of 2020)
If your soul isn't stirred by a novel about Jack, chances are you haven't signed up to the doctrine of Marilynne Robinson, one of America's defining writers . . . Robinson's writing is numinous but never alienating to secular readers, because the issues she tackles are universal, with complicated parent-child dynamics a favourite
Susie Mesure, The i
It could be said that the attempt to understand how things are is at the heart of Robinson's remarkable body of work. Jack fits beautifully into the subtle weave of Robinson's Gilead books; that said, it could perfectly well be read on its own
Erica Wagner, Financial Times
Each of [Robinson's] novels has celebrated the fact that the ineffable is inseparable from the quotidian, and rendered the ineffable, quotidian world back to us, peculiar, luminous and precise . . . There are passages when Jack's eye glimmers so clearly on the moment, when his dream logic feels so apt, that the whole world Robinson has illuminated with such care and attention reappears, and we are returned to the prophetic everyday
Jordan Kisner, Atlantic
A sometimes tender, sometimes fraught story of interracial love in a time of trouble . . . The story flows swiftly- and without a hint of inevitability - as Robinson explores a favorite theme, 'guilt and grace met together'. An elegantly written proof of the thesis that love conquers all - but not without considerable pain
Kirkus (starred review)
Can love save a man from perdition? That question, braided with romance and religion, is at the heart of Marilynne Robinson's new novel . . . Robinson cradles [Jack's] love for Della with the tenderness of a gracious creator
Ron Charles, Washington Post
the rare treat of a new novel from Marilynne Robinson
Feckless, reckless Jack meets pious Della, a black teacher, and the unlikely pair fall in love. Poetry, God and a playful humour illuminate their relationship in a world benighted by racial segregation. Jack is an elegant study of faith and love in troubled times
Eithne Farry, Sunday Express
The fourth in Robinson's luminous, profound Gilead series and perhaps the best yet, a sad story about love, race and midwestern mores
From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and American National Humanities Medal comes Jack, an exploration into faith and pastoralism set in the richly imagined community of Gilead. Touching on themes of love, racism and religion in post-World War II small-town America, it's a fraught love story between John and Della. Praised for being one of Robison's greatest achievements, it's no wonder this featured in Obama's favourites
I have been hoping for this book for six years, ever since I read Marilynne Robinson's last novel, Lila. She writes with breathtaking grace and intelligence and Jack will be the fourth in the now classic series that began with Gilead. Where to read such a treasure? Somewhere very quiet where you can savour each word - in front of the fire, wrapped in the finest blanket
Rachel Joyce, Sainsbury's magazine
Marilynne Robinson is one of the greatest writers of our time. In 2008 I concluded my article: "I'm not saying that you're actually dead if you haven't read Marilynne Robinson, but I honestly couldn't say you're fully alive." I have not changed my mind
Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times
On one, rapturous level, this book is a romance. Nothing can be wrong, at least for the moment, between these lovers. "And then they embraced, and what an embrace it was, as if they two had survived flood and fire, as if they had solved loneliness." It is a remarkable fact of Marilynne Robinson's genius that every page or paragraph of Jack could stand for the whole book
Anne Enright, London Review of Books
Jack Boughton has been present, even when he was painfully absent, throughout Robinson's profound saga and now he steps forward to illuminate the hidden facets of his peripatetic life of lies, thievery, bad luck and dangerous love. Robinson's latest glorious work of metaphysical and moral inquiry, nuanced feelings, intricate imagination and exquisite sensuousness begins at night inside the locked gates of a St. Louis cemetery where Jack, an alcoholic, sarcastic and self-loathing white man living rough, encounters the woman he loves, Della Miles, who is a disciplined, poetry-loving, Black and a devoted high school history teacher . . . Myriad manifestations of pain are evoked, but here, too, are beauty, humour, mystery and joy as Robinson holds us rapt with the exactitude of her perceptions and the exhilaration of her hymnal cadence, and so gracefully elucidates the complex sorrows and wonders of life and spirit
This is a sunnier book than anyone might have expected, an unlikely love story, both funny and sublime: we see two souls awakening to love in that down-to-earth yet transcendent vein that is Robinson's special hallmark
Nonnie Minogue, Literary Review
Not just a meditation on faith and human suffering but a singular portrait of the divine
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
It is the strangest beginning of a romance: a night locked in a graveyard in St Louis. And so staggeringly complex, ethereal and witty is the dialogue and interaction between the two principle players . . . we are with them through every minute of their blossoming connection. This is the fourth in Marilynne Robinson's magnificent Gilead series and delves deep into the heart of the American spirit
Sainsbury's magazine
A meditation on human decency and the capacity for redemption
New York Times
Radiant and visionary, the fourth Gilead novel explores whether a minister's prodigal son can be redeemed by love . . . [Marilynne Robinson is] a writer of magisterial wisdom and skill . . . This has been Robinson's project: to perceive "this teeming world", as she puts it, "so steeped in its sins", and all the same to insist on what is best and loveliest
Sarah Perry, Guardian
Marilynne Robinson's novel has some of the beats of a romantic comedy. The principals are charismatic, their conversation sparky. Jack can be read as a stand-alone, but the book gains much from what many readers will bring to it of their knowledge of its central character from his appearances in the trilogy of novels that preceded this one. Every time Robinson tells this story, it is both a better story and truer
Dr Nikhil Krishnan, Telegraph
Jack is the fourth novel in Robinson's Gilead series, an intergenerational saga of race, religion, family, and forgiveness centered on a small Iowa town. But it is not accurate to call it a sequel or a prequel. Rather, this book and the others - Gilead, Home, and Lila - are more like the Gospels, telling the same story four different ways . . . At seventy-six, she is still trying to convince the rest of us that her habit of looking backward isn't retrograde but radical, and that this country's history, so often seen now as the source of our discontents, contains their remedy, too
Casey Cep, New Yorker
Robinson has won multiple awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her latest novel, the fourth in the Gilead series, is the story of the fraught but life-changing relationship between John Ames Boughton, a white man who has recently been released from prison, and Delia Miles, an African American teacher, in 1950s St Louis
Good Housekeeping
In Gilead, the first volume, the Rev. John Ames writes that 'a good sermon is one side of a passionate conversation,' and Ms. Robinson's novels work that way, too, replying to one another, querying, clarifying or rebutting, but always sustaining a dialogue that feels as grand and as inexhaustible as the mysteries they explore . . . These novels honor creation by affording us something we only occasionally find in the vastness of existence: a glimpse of eternity, such as it is
Wall Street Journal
Robinson's genius lies her ability to inhabit the voices of her very different characters so completely; this book is no different, and I loved it.
Church Times (Best books of the year)
It is an immensely satisfying and bittersweet end to an astonishing series. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about these four books taken as a whole is the whole-hearted commitment to the novel as a moral endeavour. They are beautiful, and they are true
Stuart Kelly, Scotsman