Garrison Keilor already mentioned her in today's Writer's Almanac on NPR (which is how I found out it was her birthday), but I feel that she can't be mentioned enough. Plus she is originally from Idaho so it's tempting to try to claim her has a relative.
I read C's copy of Gilead back in April and since then I've been sort of evangelical about it, even to the point of lending out C's copy a few times (with her permission). I should get my own, and two or three to give away. I made my mom buy one though I don't know if she's had a chance to read it yet. I hope she will very soon. Then I hope my dad will read it too. And all of my siblings. And my grandparents, and my aunts and uncles and cousins, and so on. And my bibliophilic friends who haven't read it yet. You know who you are. It is a very quiet book, our hero is not a hardboiled investigator of crime or a secret agent, but rather an elderly minister living in a small town in Iowa writing his thoughts and recollections to the son of his old age as he anticipates that he won't live long enough for his son to know him well.
As another reviewer put it: "[N]early every sentence demands to be savored....There has been much talk lately about a religious divide in this country. Gilead, then, may be the perfect book at the perfect time: a deeply empathetic and complex picture of a religious person that is also gorgeously written, and fascinating."
After I read it, I thought, if I could only read one more novel before I die, I would read this one over again.