Roxana Robinson

Roxana Robinson is an East Coast-based novelist and short story writer.

Selected Works:

Cost, Sweetwater, Summer Light


The Washington Post's Five Best Novels of 2008, Four times among The New York Times Notable Books of the Year

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Which one or two American books or plays would you yourself recommend to the foreign leaders?

Recommended books for foreign leaders: Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson, because it so beautifully articulates certain aspects of the American sensibility—its commitment to truth, the experience of the frontier, the sense of struggle between the idea and the world. The House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton, because it shows a sense of ruthlessness and frenzy that still obtains in American society, and the consequences. Also My Antonia, by Willa Cather, which tells a story of immigration and the early struggles between the people and the land.

Who in your childhood—for example, parent or teacher—encouraged you to read books, and which one or two books do you remember most fondly?

When I was a child, it was my mother who most encouraged me to read, and that by example. It was clear to us that reading was one of her greatest pleasures. She would go to bed at night with a bowl of ice cream and a volume of Simenon, in French. When we were children, she and my father read aloud to us, from lots of different kind of books, from the great ghost stories to James Thurber. Reading was at the center of our household and our conversation.

Which books by writers of the other G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom) have been most important to you as a writer?

There are many books from other countries that have been important to me as a writer. My all-time favorite may be Anton Chekhov, who revealed, with his remarkably observant and compassionate eye, what life was like in 19th-century Russia—and everywhere else, throughout history. Other great favorites are Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which showed so gaily and elegantly how to render an entire family and its history; Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks, another great chronicle of a family, and its mesmerizing descent; also Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which enters into the sensibility of each of its characters with such understanding that the whole book is nearly unbearable. And there are more, of course.

What is the Power of the Word Exhibit?

Power of the Word: Leaders, Readers and Writers is the first online exhibition of The American Writers Museum. As world leaders gather in the U.S. this spring, The American Writers Museum Foundation is inviting American writers and readers to explore the power of the word and join in a discussion of how American books can help readers in other parts of the world better understand our culture.

Leaders Gallery

An exploration into what some of the world’s most powerful leaders like to read, and how reading has influenced them.

Writers Gallery

American writers comment on their early experiences with reading and name the books they think world leaders should read in order to better understand American culture.

Readers Gallery

An interactive, open forum where readers are invited to join the discussion by answering the question: Which American works of literature do you think leaders from other nations should read in order to gain a better understanding of America?

We would like to thank our exhibit sponsors for their generous support:


What is The American Writers Museum?

The mission of The American Writers Museum Foundation is to establish the first national museum in the United States dedicated to engaging the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture and our daily lives. Learn more at