Critical Overview

(Novels for Students)

Bayei Village in Northern Botswana may provide a view of Africa similar to that experienced by the characters in The Poisonwood Bible Published by Gale Cengage

Most reviews of The Poisonwood Bible were positive, though some stressed drawbacks while praising some parts. John Leonard wrote a glowing tribute in The Nation to Kingsolver's artistry. Leonard claims that in this novel, "Barbara King-solver has dreamed a magnificent fiction and a ferocious bill of indictment." Noting her shift from the domestic, southwestern American settings of her previous work, he concludes: "this new, mature, angry, heartbroken, expansive out-of-Africa Kingsolver—is at last our very own Lessing and our very own Gordimer, and she is, as one of her characters said of another in an earlier novel, 'beautiful beyond the speed of light.'"

Similarly impressed, Gayle Greene, in The Women's Review of Books, confesses, "not since Beloved have I been so engaged by a new work of fiction," and she praises "a story and characters that are gripping, a family saga that assumes epic and Biblical proportions." On the serious side, she applauds the novel's "strong political message, offering a scathing indictment of America's part in carving up Africa." But she also commends the novel's humor: "it has you laughing one moment and gasping with horror the next." In all, Greene finds it to be "a complex, textured work, its imagery patterns resonating across levels of meaning…. It is multivocal and multiphonic, its meaning not in a single voice but in the play of voices against one another."

Joining in, a...

(The entire section is 552 words.)