A New York Times Bestseller A PEN/Hemingway Award-winning Author In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his ... Show synopsis A New York Times Bestseller A PEN/Hemingway Award-winning Author In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and his forebears. Ames is the son of an Iowan preacher and the grandson of a minister who, as a young man in Maine, saw a vision of Christ bound in chains and came west to Kansas to fight for abolition. He "preached men into the Civil War," then, at age fifty, became a chaplain in the Union Army, losing his right eye in battle. Reverend Ames writes to his son about the tension between his father - an ardent pacifist - and his grandfather, whose pistol and bloody shirts, concealed in an army blanket, may be relics from the fight between the abolitionists and those settlers who wanted to vote Kansas into the union as a slave state. And he tells a story of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, which are tested in his tender and strained relationship with his namesake, John Ames Boughton, his best friend's wayward son. Robinson's first novel, Housekeeping , is regarded by many as an American classic; it received the PEN/Hemingway award for best first novel and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her second book, Mother Country: Britain, The Welfare State and Nuclear Pollution, evolved from an essay that she wrote for Harper's Review and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Gilead is a 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award winner and the 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction. Marilynne Robinson lives in Iowa.