Home Is Where the Hurt Is

In Marilynne Robinson's new novel about a prodigal son, a bad man is hard to find

Illustration by Jeffrey Smith for TIME

Marilynne Robinson

It's a hard thing to admit to being bored by Marilynne Robinson. She's a tremendous power in American fiction. She's the author of Housekeeping, a transcendently weird, overpoweringly sad book that was a finalist for the Pulitzer in 1982, and Gilead, which won it in 2005, almost a quarter-century later. When Robinson writes--as she does in her new novel, Home (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 325 pages)--that the white hair of a sleeping old man is "like harmless aspiration, like a mist given off by the endless work of dreaming," her similes are so precise and so beautiful that one knows one...

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