One of the those adept at posing moral and ethical concerns, and doing so in engaging, literary manner, drawing on past as well as present, award-winning novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson is here for the paperback of her most recent book of essays, What Are We Doing Here? (Picador).
“‘How did you end up here, Marilynne? What happened? Was it libraries?’ In 2015, President Obama sought out the novelist Marilynne Robinson, the author of the acclaimed Gilead trilogy, for a wide-ranging conversation … Obama’s question lay at the crux of their discussion. Robinson grew up sheltered, in small-town Idaho, he noted, with every incentive to parochialism. What awakened her fierce interest in the world, and her sense of obligation to it? What shapes the kind of person who declares, as Robinson does, ‘democracy is my aesthetics and my ethics and more or less my religion’? Robinson takes up the question herself in What Are We Doing Here? … Mostly. Robinson came to the habit of self-scrutiny early … She kept at it, following the publication of Housekeeping, with one of the more interesting silences in American letters. She published no new fiction for 24 years, devoting herself instead to deep study of Marx, Darwin and the history of political thought. In many ways, What Are We Doing Here? is a response to those years of study, a repudiation of Marx and Darwin, of powerful ideologies of any stripe that simplify the world … Most of the essays in this new book were delivered as speeches, and some repetition is inevitable. But so too is our desire for more — for the refinement of her ideas instead of the rehashing — especially since the final essay, which takes an unexpectedly personal turn, delivers like no other.” - Parul Sehgal, The New York Times.
Presented by Town Hall Arts & Culture in partnership with Elliott Bay Book Company.