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Marilynne Robinson on writing, metaphysics and Donald Trump’s dilemma

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Marilynne Robinson is one of the greatest American novelists alive today. She’s the author of Pulitzer Prize-winning Gilead, one of my favorite books, as well as Housekeeping, Home, Lila and her latest, Jack. Shes has also produced four brilliant collections of non-fiction essays.

But Robinson is not just a fine writer; his work is inextricably linked to the most important issues of our race in time, religion, education, geography, democracy to such an extent that in 2015, Barack Obama chose to interview him on the state of country while he was still president in office. This conversation on The Ezra Klein Show has been a joy to have right now, and it covers vast swathes of ground, including:

The Robinsons’ obsession with the doctrine of predestination

What we know and everything we don’t know about the nature of reality

The power of loneliness

How, despite all the talk about polarization, there are certain ideas that Americans share widely, quietly

How the logic of efficiency and growth came to pervade all aspects of our lives

The differences between writing fiction and non-fiction

How to train yourself to notice the world around you

The sober purpose of studying history

What it will take to keep America’s democracy alive

The particular problem posed by Donald Trump

The basic assumptions and practices that a democracy requires that we share

And much more. I found this conversation a tonic to have right now. Hope it is the same for you.

My conversation with Robinson can be heard on The Ezra Klein Show.

Subscribe to The Ezra Klein Show anywhere you listen to podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

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