On Marilynne Robinson’s New Book — “Lila”

At The Vicarious Life, we talk a lot about the dual nature of life — how the seeming incompatibility of brokenness and grace actually weave together to form the very essence of our experience and existence, and how art is a (the?) means of communicating this tension to ourselves and our current culture.

No current author seems to understand and depict this tension more clearly than Marilynne Robinson. This week she is releasing her latest novel, Lila, which is set in Gilead, Iowa with the same characters from her previous two novels, Home and Gilead.

What makes Robinson so unique is her ability to reveal the brokenness and grace of humanity — not with condescension or fear, but instead, with images that unveil a world beneath the surface of perceived truth, plunging painfully and compassionately into the realm of interior reality shaped by transcendental truths.

If you have never read her novels, I really encourage you to pick them up. These three novels are tied to the same story and families, but written from different angles. Each novel is independent, yet, if you read each novel, you glean a little bit more insight about the character’s life and faith.

At the very least, check out this interview about her latest book and catch a glimpse of Robinson as a person and artist.

“The idea that there is an intrinsic worth in a human being. Abuse or neglect of a human being is not the destruction of worth but certainly the denial of it. Worth. We’re always trying to anchor meaning in experience. But without the concept of worth, there’s no concept of meaning. I cannot make a dollar worth a dollar; I have to trust that it is worth a dollar. I can’t make a human being worthy of my respect; I have to assume that he is worthy of my respect. Which I think is so much of the importance of the Genesis narrative. We are given each other in trust. I think people are much too wonderful to be alive briefly and gone. . .” — Robinson

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