Discussion Topics (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Choose a main character from any novel by Barbara Kingsolver and define the ethical or moral issue that becomes the center of that character’s focus.
Explain how each Price daughter in The Poisonwood Bible reveals her personality through how she tells her version of the story.
Kingsolver defines family in different ways in her novels. Identify nontraditional family arrangements in Prodigal Summer or Pigs in Heaven.
(The entire section is 67 words.)
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Other Literary Forms (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Barbara Kingsolver is known primarily for her longer fiction, which includes The Bean Trees (1988), Animal Dreams (1990), Pigs in Heaven (1993), The Poisonwood Bible (1998), and Prodigal Summer (2000). She also writes travel articles, book reviews, essays, and poetry. Her nonfiction work Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983 (1989) compellingly presents the plight of miners in southern Arizona’s copper mining “company towns.” She has authored a collection of poetry entitled Another America (1992, 1998). The volume’s form invites awareness of diverse perspectives, with Kingsolver’s poetry and its Spanish translations printed on facing pages. A selection of her essays in High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never (1995) offers thoughts on parenting, home ownership, cultural habits, travel, and writing. Her observations on the natural order of things, from child rearing to exploring a volcanic crater in Hawaii, range from self-deprecatingly humorous to awe-inspired. All celebrate one’s connection to and citizenship of the world.
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Achievements (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Barbara Kingsolver has won many writing awards. In 1986 the Arizona Press Club gave her its feature-writing award. She received American Library Association awards for The Bean Trees in 1989 and for Homeland, and Other Stories in 1990. The Edward Abbey Ecofiction award (1990) for Animal Dreams and the prestigious PEN/West Fiction Award (1991) added to her reputation. In 1993 and 1994 respectively, she received the Los Angeles Book Award and the Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association Award for Pigs in Heaven. Her first three novels were New York Times Notable Books and she also received an Enoch Pratt Library Youth-to-Youth Book Award for The Bean Trees. In 1995, an honorary doctorate was conferred on her by DePauw University. True to her activist principles, she founded the Bellwether Prize, given in support of literature promoting social change.
(The entire section is 130 words.)
Other literary forms (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Barbara Kingsolver, known primarily for her long fiction, also has written travel articles, book reviews, essays, and poetry. Her nonfiction book Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983 (1989) presents a compelling picture of the plight of miners in southern Arizona’s copper-mining company towns. The form of her poetry collection Another America/Otra America (1992)—with Kingsolver’s poetry and its Spanish translations printed on facing pages—invites cultural awareness. Homeland, and Other Stories (1989), a short-story collection, contains previously published and new work, most of which depicts the vagaries and pressures of different mother/daughter relationships. Some of the stories encompass fathers, brothers, and husbands as well, but all explore how family, past and present, affects the identity and perspective of the main character or the narrator in each story.
Kingsolver’s essays include those in High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never (1995), which present her thoughts on parenting, home ownership, cultural habits, travel, writing, and other topics. Following the national upheaval surrounding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Kingsolver was asked to edit previous essays and add new material to a volume that she would call Last Stand: America’s Virgin...
(The entire section is 399 words.)
Achievements (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Barbara Kingsolver has won many writing awards. In 1986, the Arizona Press Club presented her with its feature-writing award. She received American Library Association awards in 1989 for The Bean Trees and in 1990 for Homeland. She also won the Edward Abbey Ecofiction Award (1990) for Animal Dreams and the prestigious PEN Western Fiction Award (1991). In 1993 and 1994, she received a Los Angeles Times Book Award and Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association Award for Pigs in Heaven. She also received an Enoch Pratt Library Youth Book Award for The Bean Trees. In 1995, she received an honorary doctorate from De Pauw University.
Other awards honor Kingsolver’s writings on ecology. In 2003, she won the Earth Day Award from the Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission for her works on timely environmental issues. In 2002, she was honored by Physicians for Social Responsibility and received the Frank Waters Award for her writings on the Southwest. Also in 2002, she was on the PEN/USA advisory board to evaluate the work of contemporary American authors. True to her activist principles, she founded the Bellwether Prize, given in support of new authors writing literature of social change.
(The entire section is 184 words.)
Bibliography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Aay, Henry. “Environmental Themes in Ecofiction: In the Center of the Nation and Animal Dreams.” Journal of Cultural Geography 14 (Spring, 1994). Aay’s comparative study of Kingsolver’s novel and In the Center of the Nation (1991) by Dan O’Brien is one of the few scholarly discussions of Kingsolver’s work.
Cincotti, Joseph A. “Intimate Revelations.” The New York Times Book Review, September 2, 1990, 2.
DeMarr, Mary Jean. Barbara Kingsolver: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. A good overview of Kingsolver’s work, emphasizing her eco-feminism.
Draper, James P. “Barbara Kingsolver.” In Contemporary Literary Criticism: Yearbook 1993. Vol. 81. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994. A collection of critical views of Kingsolver’s work.
Epstein, Robin. “Barbara Kingsolver.” Progressive 60 (February, 1996): 33-38. An informative interview with Kingsolver; Kingsolver believes that most readers do not think that her writing is overly political; she feels that she has a responsibility to discuss her beliefs with the public.
Fleischner, Jennifer, ed. A Reader’s Guide to the Fiction of Barbara Kingsolver: “The Bean Trees,” “Homeland and Other Stories,” “Animal Dreams,”...
(The entire section is 407 words.)