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Idaho-Born Novelist Marilynne Robinson Among Time's 100 Most Influential People

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Idaho native Marilynne Robinson addresses attendees at the 2012 Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College. - CHRISTIAN SCOTT HEINEN BELL, CC0
  • Christian Scott Heinen Bell, CC0
  • Idaho native Marilynne Robinson addresses attendees at the 2012 Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College.


Time
magazine released its annual 100 Most Influential People list this morning, and one name that made the cut might be familiar to Idahoans.

Sandpoint, Idaho-born author Marilynne Robinson was listed among Time's Icons, and she has racked up a pile of honorifics in her 72 years, including the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction (twice) and the National Humanities Medal, among others. 
The first edition of Robinson's debut novel, Housekeeping, bears a close resemblance to her hometown of Sandpoint, Idaho. - FAIR USE, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Fair Use, Wikimedia Commons
  • The first edition of Robinson's debut novel, Housekeeping, bears a close resemblance to her hometown of Sandpoint, Idaho.

Robinson's Idaho roots have played into her work. Her first novel, Housekeeping, was set in Fingerbone, Idaho—a fictionalized version of Sandpoint—which, like her hometown, is located on a large, snakey lake. The cover of the first edition went so far as to feature the 2-mile "Long Bridge" over the Pend Oreille River.

Published in 1980, Housekeeping was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and awarded the PEN/Hemingway. It was also included on Time's list of 100 Best English-Language Novels from 1923 to 2005.

Robinson, a longtime teacher at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, is also the author of Gilead, Home and Lila, a series of novels set in the town of Gilead, Iowa, and similarly focused on the complexities of small town lives.



"Her novels are replete with a sense of felt life, with a deep and abiding sympathy for her characters and a full understanding of their inner lives," writes Irish novelist and essayist Colm Toibin for Time

In 2015, Robinson was interviewed at length by President Barack Obama, who called the fictional Pastor John Ames of Gilead "one of my favorite characters in fiction."