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Marilynne Robinson takes another look at the lost son of 'Gilead.'

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Funny. I always thought the parable of the prodigal son had a happy ending. Quick check with the King James Bible: Yup, Dad comes running to kiss his son; everything ends with presents, feasting, and merriment. The only fly in the punch bowl is the older son – a jealous, paltry, unforgiving type.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson takes a long, hard look at what happens after the prodigal son wakes up the next day in her new novel, Home. And it turns out there was a reason the boy left in the first place.

Plenty of writers, from William Faulkner to Louise Erdrich, have found a fictional stomping ground in which to set their novels, with characters popping up repeatedly as events warrant.

But Robinson here takes a highly unusual tactic: Instead of writing a sequel to her award-winning 2004 novel “Gilead,” Robinson returns not just to the small town of Gilead, Iowa, but to the events of the previous novel – showing them this time from the viewpoint of the Boughton household.

This time around, in Gilead, the events are witnessed by Glory Boughton, the baby of the Boughton family, who’s returned home with her life in shambles at 38 to take care of her dying dad. (Readers of “Gilead” will remember Robert Boughton as John Ames’s fellow minister and lifelong friend.)


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