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Barbara Kingsolver

Kingsolver, Barbara, 1955–, American writer, b. Annapolis, Md.; grad. DePauw Univ. (B.S., 1977), Univ. of Arizona (M.S., 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 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 are elements of Flight Behavior (2012), which describes the impact of the arrival of migrating monarch butterflies in a rural town. 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: American Literature: Biographies


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