A New York Times bestseller
Named a Best Book of 2020 by the Australian Book Review, AV Club, Books-a-Million, Electric Literature, Esquire, the Financial Times, Good Housekeeping (UK), The Guardian, Kirkus Reviews, Literary Hub, the New Statesman, the New York Public Library, NPR, the Star Tribune, and TIME
Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, returns to the world of Gilead with Jack, the latest novel in one of the great works of contemporary American fiction
Marilynne Robinson’s mythical world of Gilead, Iowa—the setting of her novels Gilead, Home, and Lila, and now Jack—and its beloved characters have illuminated and interrogated the complexities of American history, the power of our emotions, and the wonders of a sacred world. Jack is Robinson’s fourth novel in this now-classic series. In it, Robinson tells the story of John Ames Boughton, the prodigal son of Gilead’s Presbyterian minister, and his romance with Della Miles, a high school teacher who is also the child of a preacher. Their deeply felt, tormented, star-crossed interracial romance resonates with all the paradoxes of American life, then and now.
Robinson’s Gilead novels, which have won one Pulitzer Prize and two National Book Critics Circle Awards, are a vital contribution to contemporary American literature and a revelation of our national character and humanity.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Sometimes the best way to understand history is to experience it yourself—through a heartbreaking and painstakingly researched novel like this one. Iowa preacher’s son Jack Boughton—who first appeared in Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Gilead—has fallen in love with Della Miles, a Black schoolteacher living in segregated, post–World War II St. Louis. Though Jack and Della’s clandestine affair begins with all the giddiness of a new crush, the harsh realities of an interracial relationship in the Jim Crow era quickly come crashing in. Jack is a powerful love story that stands beautifully on its own, although fans of the previous Gilead novels will relish the chance to dive more deeply into fascinating characters they’ve met before. The couple at the center of this sweeping novel may be fictional, but the world they live in feels intensely real, pulling us into the realities of a terrible historical period that still reverberates throughout American culture.
Robinson's stellar, revelatory fourth entry in her Gilead cycle (after Lila) focuses on Jack Boughton, the prodigal son of a Gilead, Iowa, minister, and the beginnings of his romance with Della Miles before his 1957 return to Gilead in Home. Jack, who disparagingly styles himself "the Prince of Darkness," finds his life spiraling out of control in St. Louis, where, after dodging the draft during WWII, he spends several years increasingly prone to bouts of heavy drinking, petty theft, and vagrancy. His tailspin is interrupted when he meets Della Miles, an English teacher from a prominent Black family in Memphis. Despite a disastrous first date, the details of which are hinted at in the beginning, and over the numerous objections of Della's family and white strangers, Jack and Della fall in love, bound by a natural intimacy and mutual love of poetry. Robinson's masterly prose and musings on faith are on display as usual, and the dialogue is keen and indelible. ("Once in a lifetime, maybe, you look at a stranger and you see a soul, a glorious presence out of place in the world. And if you love God, every choice is made for you," Della tells Jack.) This is a beautiful, superbly crafted meditation on the redemption and transcendence that love affords.