Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friday Fiction: Tucson Author Kingsolver's New Novel

--by Hanje Richards

I have been a Barbara Kingsolver fan for a long time. Long before I moved to the Southwest, I was reading and enjoying her fiction, including Bean Trees, Pigs in Heaven, and Animal Dreams. The Copper Queen Library just received Kingsolver’s new novel, The Lacuna. I am looking forward to reading it, and it reminded me of all of the great fiction she has written before!

From the publisher comes this description of The Lacuna:

“Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover.

The Lacuna is the story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities. Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico – from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City – Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend.

Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America's hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach – the lacuna – between truth and public presumption.

With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist – and of art itself. The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time.”

Bean Trees: Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, she has acquired a completely unexpected child – a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle – and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots.

Animal Dreams: Dreamless and at the end of her rope, Codi comes back to Grace, Arizona to confront her past and face her ailing, distant father. What she finds is a town threatened by a silent environmental catastrophe, some startling clues to her own identity, and a man whose view of the world could change the course of her life.

Pigs in Heaven: The main characters in Bean Trees - Taylor Greer and her adopted daughter, Turtle - flee their home when a Cherokee attorney questions the legality of Turtle's adoption.

..Homeland and Other Stories: In this collection of 12 stories, Kingsolver spreads her memorable characters over landscapes ranging from northern California to the hills of eastern Kentucky and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and tells stories of hope, momentary joy, and powerful endurance. In every setting, Kingsolver's distinctive voice – at times comic, but often heartrending – rings true as she explores the twin themes of family ties and the life choices one must ultimately make alone.

Poisonwood Bible: Intense family drama set in an Africa on the verge of independence and upheaval. In 1959, evangelical preacher Nathan Price moves his wife and four daughters from Georgia to a village in the Belgian Congo, later Zaire. Their dysfunction and cultural arrogance proves disastrous as the family is nearly destroyed by war, Nathan's tyranny, and Africa itself. Told in the voices of the mother and daughters, the novel spans 30 years as the women seek to understand each other and the continent that tore them apart.

Prodigal Summer: This novel weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives amid the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia. Over the course of one humid summer, Summer's intriguing protagonists face disparate predicaments but find connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a place.

Since Kingsolver is also well-known for her non-fiction work, you can also find Small Wonder: Essays; Animal Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life; and High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never in the Copper Queen Library's collection.

As always, if the book you are looking for is checked out, the staff will be happy to put a hold on it so when it does become available, you will be notified. Enjoy!