Books of our times

I'm excited about Marilynne Robinson's new novel, Lila. It revisits the place and the people from Gilead and Home, but it sounds like an entirely new voice. The first page gave me a shock like a plunge in cold water on a hot day.

I'm excited about Hilary Mantel's new novel, but in this interview she says she's got another year of work to do on it. She also says the Cromwell books might be the thing she could have done that nobody else could have done, which sounds like a wonderful thing to be able to say about one's books.

I enjoyed Toni Morrison's appearance on Colbert, in which she said that she knew her books were good. He asked whether she felt herself worthy of the Nobel and the Pulitzer she holds, and she replied that the books were worthy, which is different. I'm excited about her new novel too, out next year.

In her address last week at the National Book Awards, where she accepted the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, Ursula K Le Guin said that hard times were coming and we would need writers who remembered what freedom was.

I've said before that there aren't many living writers I admire. It's thrilling to think that the best living writers might be yet to do their best work; at once unsettling and consoling to think that we will need it.