March 2, 2017 (REVISED March 17, 2017) Discussion on "Fiction, Faith and the Imagination" To Honor Marilynne Robinson

April 3 Event Includes Esteemed Authors Geraldine Brooks, Paul Harding and Alan Lightman

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The Library of Congress will honor Marilynne Robinson, the 2016 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction winner, with a special event titled “Fiction, Faith and the Imagination” on Monday, April 3. The panel discussion will include Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists Geraldine Brooks and Paul Harding, and physicist and best-selling novelist Alan Lightman, discussing the ways faith informs their work.  The conversation will be moderated by Steven Knapp, president of George Washington University.

The discussion, co-hosted by the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center and its John W. Kluge Center, will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 3, in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.  A book signing for all the writers will follow.  The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required for admission.  Tickets are available at this site. The event also will be live-streamed on the Library’s YouTube site at

Robinson is the eighth recipient of the prestigious Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.  Begun in 2009, the annual prize honors an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that have helped express something unique about the American experience.

Noting that “the depth and resonance of her novels … captures the American soul,” then-acting Librarian of Congress David Mao selected Robinson for the prize last March on the recommendation of a jury of distinguished authors and prominent literary critics from around the world.  She joined a notable list of honorees that includes Louise Erdrich (2015), E. L. Doctorow (2014), Don DeLillo (2013) and, under the award’s original name—The Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction—Philip Roth (2012), Toni Morrison (2011), Isabel Allende (2010), and John Grisham (2009). In 2008, the Library presented Pulitzer-Prize winner Herman Wouk with a lifetime achievement award for fiction writing.

About the Speakers

Marilynne Robinson was born in Sandpoint, Idaho, in 1943.  She is the author of four novels: “Lila” (2014), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; “Home” (2008), winner of the Orange Prize (UK) and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; “Gilead” (2004), winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and “Housekeeping” (1980), winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction.  Her five nonfiction books include “The Givenness of Things: Essays” (2015) and “The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought” (1998).

Robinson’s many other honors include the American Academy of Arts and Letters Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Fund, the National Humanities Medal and the American Academy of Religion in the Arts Award.  A longtime faculty member of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, Robinson is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She lives in Iowa City, Iowa, where she is a deacon for the Congregational United Church of Christ.

Geraldine Brooks is the author of five novels and three works of nonfiction, including “The Secret Chord” (2015) and “March” (2005), which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. As a Wall Street Journal correspondent, she covered crises in the Mideast, Africa and the Balkans. Her book on Muslim women, “Nine Parts of Desire,” has been translated into more than 20 languages.  In 2016 she was named an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to literature and Aboriginal literacy.

Paul Harding is the author of the novels “Enon” (2013) and “Tinkers” (2009), winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  His work has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and PEN America, among others.  He is a regular visiting professor at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has also taught at Harvard.

Alan Lightman is a writer, physicist, and social entrepreneur. He is the author of novels, collections of essays, a memoir and a book-length narrative poem.  He has written several books on science, including his memoir “Screening Room” (2015), his novel “The Diagnosis” (2000), which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and the international bestselling novel “Einstein’s Dreams” (1993).  He is a past chair of the high-energy division of the American Astronomical Society and an elected fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  At MIT, Lightman has been the John Burchard Professor of Humanities and a senior lecturer in physics and is currently Professor of the Practice of the Humanities.

Steven Knapp became the 16th president of the George Washington University in August 2007.  A scholar of Romanticism, literary theory, and the bonds among literature, philosophy and religion, Knapp is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Modern Language Association.  He is the author of numerous books, including “The Predicament of Belief.”

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress brings together scholars and researchers from around the world to use the Library's rich resources and to interact with policymakers and the public.  For more information about the center, visit

The Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress fosters and enhances the public's appreciation of literature.  The center administers the endowed poetry chair (the U.S. Poet Laureate) and coordinates an annual literary season of poetry, fiction and drama readings, performances, lectures and symposia, sponsored by the Library's Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund and the Huntington Fund.  For more information, visit

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PR 17-025
ISSN 0731-3527