Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Barbara Kingsolver is a popular and stimulating writer who has won such varied awards as the Dayton Literary Peace and the James Beard awards for food writing. For more than 20 years every book the prolific author has written has been on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Motivated by the places she has lived and interests in women, the environment, social justice, the sites and themes of her works vary. Kingsolver’s many books can be found on the shelves of the Monrovia Public Library.

Early works The Bean Trees, its sequel Pigs in Heaven and Animal Dreams all take place in Arizona and capture women on journeys to find their places in the world.

The Poisonwood Bible is a book group favorite. Set in Congo and told by the females in a family, this is the story of a fundamentalist and mean-spirited missionary, a husband and father, whose self-righteous and destructive effort to convert an indigenous community results in calamity. Great characterizations color this riveting work.

Like the Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer is narrated from different points of view. Set in Appalachia this is the story of 3 different people whose lives interrelate. Nature plays a central role and Kingsolver’s grasp of the natural world, in all its glory and danger, is amazing. Kingsolver returns to Appalachia in her most recent novel Flight Behavior, a story centered on global warming and its impact on a small town. 

Kingsolver’s most popular non-fiction work is Animal, Vegetable Mineral, in which she and her family devote a year to avoiding commercial foods and growing their own or buying locally produced edibles. This memoir is as much about food as it about family life and moral dilemmas.

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