ANOTHER AMERICA reflects novelist Barbara Kingsolver’s central concerns: displaced or marginalized women and minorities. The book’s five sections return over and over to themes of violence, war, incest, rape, and other forms of abuse, drawing sketches of lives poignantly reflecting the hazards of living on the edge in late-twentieth-century America.
Using repeated images of war and destruction, Kingsolver recalls childhood fears of a Russian invasion, threatened Titan missile launches, Nagasaki, Central American brutality. The book establishes an equation between a war’s rape of a culture and assaults against women through rape, incest, verbal violence, and other forms of brutal domination. Kingsolver’s vision also encompasses victims of political violence in Central America, in particular those traumatized in Nicaragua and Mexico and in this country after coming here hoping to find a safe haven in the Land of the Free. Such ironies are multiple in this collection of poems; for Kingsolver, the personal is the political while the political destroys the personal.
Adding power to ANOTHER AMERICA are the Spanish translations accompanying each poem, by Chilean immigrant Rebeca Cartes. This collection of poems is gut-wrenchingly frank: the poems’ combined voices emerge as a strong, unflinching female presence, a champion of the prisoners of the margins, whether by virtue of gender, race, or class.