It is the charming, engrossing tale of rural Kentucky native Taylor Greer, who only wants to get away from her roots and avoid getting pregnant. She succeeds, but inherits a three-year-old Native American girl named Turtle along the way, and together, from Oklahoma to Arizona, half-Cherokee Taylor and her charge search for a new life in the West. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in seemingly empty places.
Homeland and Other Stories (1989) features Kingsolver’s ability as a short fiction writer, her style laced with humor and the stories she shares exploring themes of family ties and the choices that affect our lives in profound ways. There are stories here that explore toxic masculinity, the unbreakable bond between mothers and children, strong women and forging relationships that will grow and evolve.
Holding the Line, Barbara Kingsolver’s first non-fiction book, is the story of women’s lives transformed by an a signal event. Set in the small mining towns of Arizona, it is part oral history and part social criticism, exploring the process of empowerment which occurs when people work together as a community. Like Kingsolver’s award-winning novels, Holding the Line is a beautifully written book grounded on the strength of its characters.
Animals dream about the things they do in the daytime just like people do. If you want sweet dreams, you’ve got to live a sweet life. So says Loyd Peregrina, a handsome Apache trainman and latter-day philosopher. But when Codi Noline returns to her hometown, Loyd’s advice is painfully out of her reach. 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. Blending flashbacks, dreams, and Native American legends, Animal Dreams is a suspenseful love story and a moving exploration of life’s largest commitments.
Interweaving past political events, from the US-backed dictatorships in South America to the government surveillance carried out in the Reagan years, Kingsolver’s early poetry expands into a broader examination of the racism, discrimination, and immigration system she witnessed at close range. The poems coalesce in a record of her emerging adulthood, in which she confronts the hypocrisy of the national myth of America—a confrontation that would come to shape her not only as an artist, but as a citizen. With a new introduction from Kingsolver that reflects on the current border crisis, Another America is a striking portrait of a country deeply divided between those with privilege and those without, and the lives of urgent purpose that may be carved out in between.
Mother and adopted daughter, Taylor and Turtle Greer, are back in this spellbinding sequel about family, heartbreak and love. Six-year-old Turtle Greer witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam during a tour of the Grand Canyon with her guardian, Taylor. Her insistence on what she has seen, and her mother’s belief in her, lead to a man’s dramatic rescue. The mother and adopted daughter duo soon become nationwide heroes - even landing themselves a guest appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show. But Turtle’s moment of celebrity draws her into a conflict of historic proportions stemming right back to her Cherokee roots. The crisis quickly envelops not only Turtle and her guardian, but everyone else who touches their lives in a complex web connecting their future with their past. Embark on a unforgettable road trip from rural Kentucky and the urban Southwest to Heaven, Oklahoma, and the Cherokee Nation, testing the boundaries of family and the many separate truths about the ties that bind.
In High Tide in Tucson, she returnsto her familiar themes of family, community, the common good and the natural world. The title essay considers Buster, a hermit crab that accidentally stows away on Kingsolver’s return trip from the Bahamas to her desert home, and turns out to have manic-depressive tendencies. Buster is running around for all he’s worth — one can only presume it’s high tide in Tucson. Kingsolver brings a moral vision and refreshing sense of humor to subjects ranging from modern motherhood to the history of private property to the suspended citizenship of human beings in the Animal Kingdom.
The Poisonwood Bible (1999) is Kingsolver’s brilliant response to Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and a relentless commentary on European misapprehension of African politics and colonial meddling—a scathing criticism of ethnocentric attitudes about Africa and toward African people. The story, narrated from different points of view in a missionary family from Georgia “ministering” to a people and culture they little understand, is both a poignant and cerebral deconstruction of white attitudes toward people of color and cultures not their own.
Prodigal Summer (2000) is a novel laced with environmental components, set in rural Virginia, and offering the reader several parallel lives to ponder and explore during a singular and propitious summer. Luce, who has lost her husband and now has to decide what to do with his family farm; Deanna, who works for the Parks Service and has her own set of life-choices to consider, and two wily elderly neighbors who come to terms with each other amid the backdrop of attempting bringing back the extinct chestnut tree to Appalachia. Prodigal Summer is a book that makes us think about the connection between how we treat each other and how we interact with threatened species on a precarious planet.
From the author of High Tide in Tucson, comes Small Wonder, a new collection of essays that begins with a parable gleaned from recent news: villagers search for a missing infant boy and find him, unharmed, in the cave of a dangerous bear that has mothered him like one of her own. Clearly, our understanding of evil needs to be revised. What we fear most can save us. From this tale, Barbara Kingsolver goes on to consider the chasm between the privileged and the poor, which she sees as the root cause of violence and war in our time. She writes about her attachment to the land, to nature and wilderness, trees and mountains-the place from which she tells her stories. Whether worrying about the dangers of genetically engineered food crops, or creating opportunities for children to feel useful and competent - like growing food for the family’s table - Kingsolver looks for small wonders, where they grow, and celebrates them.
When Barbara Kingsolver and her family moved from suburban Arizona to rural Appalachia, they took on a new challenge: to spend a year on a locally-produced diet, paying close attention to the provenance of all they consume. Concerned about the environmental, social, and physical costs of American food culture, they hoped to recover what Barbara considers our nation’s lost appreciation for farms and the natural processes of food production. Since 2007, their scheme has evolved enormously. In this new edition, featuring an afterword composed by the entire Kingsolver family, Barbara’s husband, Steven, discusses how the project grew into a farm-to-table restaurant and community development project training young farmers in their area to move into sustainable food production. Camille writes about her decision to move back to a rural area after college, and how she and her husband incorporate their food values in their lives as they begin their new family. Lily, Barbara’s youngest daughter, writes about how growing up on a farm, in touch with natural processes and food chains, has shaped her life as a future environmental scientist. And Barbara writes about their sheep, and how they grew into her second vocation as a fiber artist, and reports on the enormous response they’ve received from other home-growers and local-food devotees.
Silas House has said that this book, The Lacuna (2009), winner of the prestigious Orange Prize in Literature, is the best he has ever read exploring the complex lives of people born outside traditional gender societal prescriptions and expectations. The Lacuna tells the story of Harrison “Will” Shepherd, whose life is lived between two worlds, Mexico and the U. S. Will is an outsider whose journey takes him from the lively world of Mexican art and politics with Freida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to New York to Ashville, NC. This is a thoughtful and compelling story that entertains wonderfully as it enlightens—and winner of the pretigious British Orange Book Award.
Flight Behavior (2012) is set in Appalachia and focuses on one family, that of Dellarobia Turnbow who makes a magical discovery at a propitious point in her life—of monarch butterflies resting on a nearby mountain, a discovery that bodes for scientist Ovid Byran as threatening and forecasts the momentous climate changes in store for us (particularly relevant for Appalachia as a potential pathway for ecological resiliency that will be necessary for survival of species as the climate changes). This is a brilliant story blending science and grat storytelling, that allows Kingsolver to explore this momentous topic of climate change through one Appalachian family—which is what climate change will mean, only magnified by the billions of human species to be displaced just as the the Monarchs that spark this Appalachian and human story.
Unsheltered (2018) is a story juxtaposing a contemporary family circa 2016 and a family from the post Civil War era, their lives separated by more than a century and both living in a house slowly disintegrating. These parallel lives offer Kingsolver the opportunity to explore American materialism and troubled political values, as well as to question whether those flagging and profoundly tarnished values we long for to “make us great again” and in fact do “shelter” us in a dangerous and prophetic way. Unsheltered is an intriguing and brilliant story asking us to think clear-eyed about the idea of American exceptionalism.
In her second poetry collection, Barbara Kingsolver offers reflections on the practical, the spiritual, and the wild. She begins with “how to” poems addressing everyday matters such as being hopeful, married, divorced; shearing a sheep; praying to unreliable gods; doing nothing at all; and of course, flying. Next come rafts of poems about making peace (or not) with the complicated bonds of friendship and family, and making peace (or not) with death, in the many ways it finds us. Some poems reflect on the redemptive powers of art and poetry itself; others consider where everything begins.