Synopses & Reviews
In this powerful, eloquent, and elucidating essay, Marilynne Robinson has pinpointed exactly the motives and the mythology and the reality behind the destruction of our planet. The Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Great Britain is a perfect metaphor for twentieth-century genocide. Not the small, insane eruptions of eradication that took place in Hitler's Germany, but rather that routine, day-to-day, thoroughly "democratic" envenomation of the planet by a current industrial magic (encouraged, or at least condoned, by almost everybody), which threatens to terminate everything on earth in the quite foreseeable future.
Robinson's book is as powerful a contribution to the literature of revelation and protest as was that seminal photographic essay by W. Eugene and Aileen Smith on Minamata's disease fifteen years ago. It is as bloodcurdling as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, as thought-provoking and prophetic as the best works of people like Barry Commoner and Loren Eiseley.
This is a work of great intelligence and fine investigative reporting. It is also a lucid interpretation of history, and very important in its discussions of the roots of current dilemmas. And lastly, Mother Country is courageous, and marvelous literature at its best.
At the time when Robinson wrote this book, the largest known source of radioactive contamination of the world's environment was a government-owned nuclear plant called Sellafield, not far from Wordsworth's cottage in the Lakes District; one child in sixty was dying from leukemia in the village closest to the plant. The central question of this eloquently impassioned book is: How can a country that we persist in calling a welfare state consciously risk the lives of its people for profit. Mother Country is a 1989 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.
About the Author
Marilynne Robinson is the author of Gilead, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Home, winner of the Orange Prize, the L.A. Times Book Prize, and a finalist for the National Book Award. Her first novel, Housekeeping, won the PEN/Hemingway Award. Robinson is also the author of the nonfiction books Absence of Mind and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and lives in Iowa City.