Kingsolver, Barbara

Kingsolver, Barbara, 1955–, American writer, b. Annapolis, Md., B.S. DePauw Univ., 1977, M.S. Univ. of Arizona, 1981. She studied biology and ecology and was a science writer before completing The Bean Trees (1988), a novel about a young woman who leaves Kentucky for Arizona, where she lives with a young Cherokee girl. Kingsolver's Arizona novels also include Animal Dreams (1990) and Pigs in Heaven (1993), a sequel to her first book. These works feature carefully drawn heroines, often single mothers, struggling with their roles as individuals and as members of families and communities. The Poisonwood Bible (1998) is a sprawling colonial morality tale told through the saga of a missionary family in the Belgian Congo. Her fifth novel, Prodigal Summer (2000), is set in rural Appalachia. The Lacuna (2009) explores the period of 1929–51 and such real-life characters as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Leon Trotsky through the eyes of a fictional American diarist. Science in the form of climate change and the miraculous inform Flight Behavior (2012), in town reacts to the arrival of migrating monarch butterflies. In Unsheltered (2018), two families, living in the same place more than a century apart, face personal struggles and national changes. Kingsolver has also written short stories, bilingual poetry, essays, and a study of an Arizona mine strike (1989). In 2004 she moved to a farm in SW Virginia; her Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (2007) recounts a year during which her family ate only what they grew themselves or bought from local sources.

See M. J. DeMarr, Barbara Kingsolver: A Critical Companion (1999).

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