#83 in my book challenge for the year, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson is a Great Novel, if such a thing exists (see last entry.) It certainly is one of the best novels I’ve read, at least this year, if not ever. Robinson has written only one other novel, Housekeeping, though she has written other books. Many wondered if Housekeeping would be the only novel by Robinson, since there was a gap of more than twenty years between them. A writing instructor of mine told the story of the publishing editor who stood in the doorway of a colleague’s office. “Guess what I’m holding?” the editor asked, reverently. “Marilynne Robinson’s second novel.” Gilead is a series of letters written from an older (seventy-ish) father to his young (seven-ish) son, meant to be read when the son is older. I can’t conjure enough adjectives to do this book justice. Lovely, timeless, seamless, touching. That the letter conceit works, in addition to telling history, new story and characterization, is a stunning feat of writing. I am accustomed to reading at a fast clip. This book defies quick reading. It is rich, complex prose to be savored. Housekeeping made the Time best-of list I wrote about yesterday. Gilead belongs on that list, too.