The Big Read Blog (Archive)


October 31, 2008
Washington, DC

A National Book Award finalist for Home, Big Read author Marilynne Robinson is no stranger to prize winning. In 1980, Housekeeping won the PEN/Hemingway Award for best first novel. In this excerpt from the Reader's Guide, Robinson talks about the signature lyricism that permeates Housekeeping (and the novels that follow it).

NEA: Housekeeping is such a lyrical book, particularly during some of Ruth's internal musings. Do you write out loud?

Marilynne Robinson: I hear a voice that I would say is not my voice. When I read Housekeeping out loud, I hear it over again in my mind. I'm very interested in the musicality of language. I spend a lot of time just listening to Bach, just to hear how a sentence falls in a certain sense. So that's what I do: I hear what I write, but I don't speak it out loud. I hear it in my mind.

Don't miss Marshall Public Library's Big Read of Housekeeping which is taking place in and around Pocatello, Idaho for just two more weeks! Get details at