I bought Housekeeping because of an article at the end of last year where Bryan Appleyard made some suggestions of great artists working today. One of his two greatest living novelists was Marilynne Robinson; I don’t always find myself in sympathy with Appleyard, but with a recommendation like that it seemed worth a punt.
It is a remarkable novel. It’s a first-person story of a girl growing up in a bleak town somewhere in the north-western US in a household that gradually dissolves around her. It’s humane and atmospheric and deeply sad.
Most of all, it’s beautifully written: full of striking images and unexpected, often bleakly humorous details. And elusive and gradual and minor-key.
Is she one of the two greatest living novelists IN THE WORLD? Umm, I don’t know. But I’m willing to consider the possibility that she might be.
» the picture is a detail from Hiroshige’s Two men by a gate in the mountains, found on Wikimedia.