Thursday, 5 July 2007

Barbara Kingsolver

I am a little starry-eyed today. Last night I went to The Southbank to listen to a talk that Barbara Kingsolver was giving as part of the London Literature Festival.

Barbara Kingsolver is my all-time favourite writer. Her books are among the very few that I ever re-read. One of the reasons I love her books is that her writing is very eclectic. She has published poems, essays, short stories and novels. The subjects she has written about range from missionary zeal in the Belgian Congo to the sex life of goats to the manufacture of pinatas using peacock feathers. But unifying this dizzying selection of topics is her writing voice which is always humourous, imaginative and clear.

Her latest book, which she was talking about last night, charts her family's year of deliberatly eating just food that they could grow themselves or buy locally. If it didn't meet those criteria, they went without. Her husband and older daughter contribute to the book as well with discussions and essays regarding food production in America and nutritional information. As if I didn't admire her work enough already, she goes and writes something that chimes so closely with what I believe! Although her family do live on a farm in Virginia and the photos of their produce look a little more appetising than my poor half-drowned lettuces at the moment....

My list for today is just a very simple catalogue of Barbara Kingsolver's books - if you haven't read any of her work, please go and try some of it. With such varied topics there has to be something for everyone!

  • Prodigal Summer - A gentle love story, set in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. My favourite of all her books (I think!)
  • The Bean Trees - the first book in a two part story about identity, location and the American Indian community.
  • Pigs in Heaven - the final part of the story begun in The Bean Trees
  • Animal Dreams - the other contender for my favourite of her books. Exploring the nature of the individual and community, set in New Mexico.
  • Small Wonder - a selection of brilliant essays.
  • High Tide in Tuscon - another non-fiction work.
  • The Poisonwood Bible - the book that has won the most awards, and probably the one most people associate her with, but actually my least favourite.
  • Homeland - a book of her short stories.
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - her new book. Thought provoking but very funny, with some delicious recipes in too


  1. Did you know that the Woman's Hour podcast for July 3rd is entitled Barbara Kingsolver?

  2. I did - and its good! Martha Kearney from Womans's Hour was the interviewer at the talk on Wednesday evening.


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