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Marilynne Robinson is one of the greatest American novelists alive today. She’s the author of the Pulitzer-prize winning Gilead — one of my favorite books, ever — as well as Housekeeping, Home, Lila, and her latest, Jack. She’s also produced four brilliant collections of nonfiction essays. But Robinson is not simply a beautiful writer; her work is inextricably bound up with the most important issues of our times: race, religion, education, geography, and democracy — so much so that in 2015, Barack Obama chose to interview her on the state of the country while he was still the sitting president. This was a joy of a conversation to have right now, and it covers vast amounts of ground, including: • Robinson’s obsession with the doctrine of predestination • What we know -- and all we don’t know -- about the nature of reality • The power of loneliness • How, for all the talk of polarization, there are certain ideas that Americans widely, quietly share • How the logic of efficiency and growth has come to invade every aspect of our lives • The differences between writing fiction and nonfiction • How to train yourself to notice the world around you • The sobering purpose of studying history • What it will take to keep American democracy alive and well • The particular problem that Donald Trump poses • The baseline assumptions and practices a democracy demands we share And much more. I found this conversation a tonic to have in this moment. I hope it’s the same for you. Book recommendations: Birdman of Alcatraz by Thomas E. Gaddis Credits: Producer - Jeff Geld Audio engineer - Jackson Bierfeldt Researcher - Roge Karma Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices