The Poisonwood Bible Questions and Answers
by Barbara Kingsolver

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What is the relationship between Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible and colonialism texts such as Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness?

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The Poisonwood Bible has much in common with such critiques of colonialism, but it also moves beyond them, incorporating some realities from the postcolonial age. 

This is partly because it is based on the author's own experience. As she says in her Author's Note, 

I was the fortunate child of medical and public-health workers, whose compassion and curiosity led them to the Congo. They brought me to a place of wonders, taught me to pay attention, and set me early on a path of exploring the great, shifting territory between righteousness and what's right.

The Poisonwood Bible was exhaustively researched. In addition to travel and personal interviews, the author drew on many fiction and nonfiction works about colonial and postcolonial Africa, including Things Fall Apart. Her novel comes with a bibliography. It builds on the colonialism texts.

What The Poisonwood Bible has in common with the two novels you mention is that it is a critique of colonialism that nevertheless recognizes complexity. In...

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