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Barbara Kingsolver

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                                                                                                           CONTENTS / INHOUD
                                                                                                           Barbara Kingsolver...
                                                                                                                 ¨
                                                                                                           Grizell Azar-Luxton provides insight into this


  Barbara Kingsolver...
                                                                                                           author, cum archeologist,cum copy editor...
                                                                                                           the list is endless                            18
                                                                                                           The poisonwood Bible
                                                                                                           A discussion by Franschhoek Reading Circle's
  archaeologist, copy editor,                                                                              Marion Marsh                                  20
  x-ray technician, housecleaner,                                                                          Realms of ice and snow. Some books about
  biological researcher                                                                                    very cold places
                                                                                                           An unusual discussion of a wintery topic by
  and translator of medical documents                                                                      Margaret Iskander                             22
                                                                                                           Realms of ice and snow booklist
                                                                                                           Margaret Iskander provides a detailed
Compiled by                                                                                                booklist                                      24
     è
GRIZELL AZAR-LUXTON                                                                                        Aanbevole prenteboeke vir babas en peuters
                                                                                                           Lona Gericke se nuttige leeslys               25



B
          arbara Kingsolver was born on                 Kingsolver has always been a story-
          April 8,1955. She grew up`in the           teller:`Iused to beg mymother tolet me tell
          middle of an alfalfa field', in the part   her a bedtime story.' As a child, she wrote
                                                                                                     biological researcher and translator of
of eastern Kentucky that lies between the            stories and essays and, beginning atthe age
                                                                                                     medical documents. After graduate school,
opulent horse farms and the impoverished             of eight, kept a journal religiously. Still, it
                                                                                                     a position as a science writer for the Uni-
coal fields.                                         never occurred to Kingsolver that she
                                                                                                     versity of Arizona soon led her into feature
    Kingsolver was a little girl of seven when       could become a professional writer.
                                                                                                     writing for journals and newspapers. Her
she and her familylefttheir Kentucky home            Growing up in a rural area, where work
                                                                                                     articles have appeared in dozens of news-
to spend two yearsinthe Congo.When she               centered mainly on survival, writing didn't
                                                                                                     papers and magazines in North America
returned, the world looked totally different         seem to be a practical career choice.
                                                                                                     and abroad. In1986 she won an Arizona
to her. `I understood the way we lived in my         Besides, the writers she read, she once
                                                                                                     Press Club award for outstanding feature
little corner of Kentucky was justthat,'says         explained,`were mostly old, dead men from
                                                                                                     writing, and in1995, after the publication of
the author. `One little corner where we had          England. It was inconceivable that I might
                                                                                                     High tide inTucson,Kingsolver was
certain things we did, possessed, believed           grow up to be one of those myself...'
                                                                                                     awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Let-
in, butthere was a great big world out                  Kingsolver left Kentucky to attend
                                                                                                     ters from her alma mater,DePauw Univer-
there where people had no use for many of            DePauw University in Indiana, where she
                                                                                                     sity.
the things my community held dear.                   majored in biology. She also took a creative
                                                                                                        Kingsolver credits her careers in scien-
    `I came home with an acutely heightened          writing course, and became active in social
                                                                                                     tific writing and journalism with instilling in
sense of race, of ethnicity. I gotto live in a       justice organisations. Before and after
                                                                                                     her a writer's discipline and broadening her
place where people thought I was notice-             graduating in1977,Kingsolver lived and
                                                                                                     `fictional possibilities'. Describing herself as
able and probably hideous because of the             worked in Europe. In
                                                                                                                             a shy person who
colour of my skin.'                                  the early eighties, she
                                                                                                                             would generally prefer
    These weren't easy lessons, says                 pursued graduate stu-         The years she worked as to stay at home with
Kingsolver, butthey were priceless. She              dies in biology and
                                                                                        a technical writer                   her computer, she
has not forgotten whatthe Congo taught               ecology atthe Univer-
                                                                                                                             explains that `jour-
her. It made her the person, the writer, she         sity of Arizona in             taught her `to produce                   nalism forces me to
is.                                                  Tucson, where she
                                                     received a Masters of whether I wanted to or not.
                                                                                                                             meet and talk with
    `I'm extremely interested in cultural dif-
                                                                                                                             people I would never
ference, in social and political history, and        Science degree. She            It would be easy to say                  run across otherwise'.
the sparks that fly when people with dif-            also enrolled in a
ferent ways of looking atthe world come              writing class taught by       oh, I have writer's block,                    Writing is Kingsolver's
                                                                                                                             passion, but she's no
together and need to reconcile or move               author Francine                 oh, I have to wait for                  artiste. `I consider
through or celebrate those differences. All          Prose, whose work
that precisely describes everything I've             Kingsolver admires.
                                                                                        my muse. I don't.                    myself a writer of the
ever written, Animal dreams, Pigs in                    Kingsolver's fiction      Chain that muse to your workingsmug about it.
                                                                                                                             little bit
                                                                                                                                        class. I'm a
heaven, all of it.' It also describes                is rich with the lan-
                                                     guage and imagery of
                                                                                  desk and get the job done' I have so little toler-
Kingsolver'sThe poisonwood Bible, a novel
                                                                                                                             ance for writers who
of post-colonial Africa which brings to bear         her native Kentucky.
                                                                                                                             have elaborate three-
all she observed as a child in the Congo and         But when she first left
                                                                                                                             hour rituals before
all she came to understand of it as an adult.        home, she says,`Ilost
                                                                                                     they even get down to work. I think, oh,
    `Given thatthis is what we did as a nation       my accent... [P]eople made terrible fun of
                                                                                                     please. My idea of a pre-writing ritual is
in Africa, how are we to feel about it now?'         me for the way I used to talk, so I gave it up
                                                                                                     getting the kids onthe bus and sitting down.'
asks the author. `How do we live with it and         slowly and became something else.' During
                                                                                                     The years she worked as a technical writer
how do we move on? Given thatthis is our             her college years and after living in Greece
                                                                                                     taught her`to produce whether I wanted to
history, whatdo we do with it? One thing is          and France, she supported herself in a
                                                                                                     or not. It would be easy to say oh,I have
very clear, there isn't a single answer -            variety of jobs: as an archaeologist, copy
                                                                                                     writer's block, oh,I have to wait for my
there's a spectrum of answers.'                      editor, X-ray technician, housecleaner,


                                                                Cape Libr., Sept/Oct 2004
                                                                             18
BOEKRELD
   WEê


Awards and recognitions                                                   Homeland and other stories
                                                                          American Library Association Notable Book
Prodigal summer
The 2002 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (nomination)           The bean trees
                                                                          Enoch Pratt LibraryYouth-to-Youth Books Award
The poisonwood Bible                                                      American Library Association Notable Book
Book SenseTop10 2003 (Number One)                                         ABBYnominee
Independent Publisher Book Awards, Audio Fiction1999                      NewYorkTimes Notable Book
American Booksellers Book of theYear (ABBY)                               Philips Autograph Library,West Chester University, 2000
Patterson Fiction Prize,The Poetry Centre,1999
Los AngelesTimes Best Books for1998                                       Additionally
NewYorkTimes`Ten Best Books of1998'                                       Earth Day Award,KY Environmental Quality Commission 2003
North 49 Books,Canada,Most Valuable Picks for the Fall1998 Season         PEN/USA Advisory Board, 2002
VillageVoice Best Books for1998                                           John P McGovern Award for the Family, 2002
NewYork Public Library `25 Books to Remember'                             Physicians for Social Responsibility National Award, 2002
The Orange Prize,Great Britain (short list)                               Frank Waters Award, 2002
PEN/Faulkner Award (runner-up)                                            Best American Science and Nature Writing, 2001
Pulitzer Prize (runner-up)                                                Governor's Award in the Arts,National Award,Kentucky, 2001
                                                                          National Humanities Medal, 2000
Pigs in heaven                                                            100 Best Writers of the 20th Century,Writers Digest,1999
Los AngelesTimes Fiction Prize                                            `Best Local Author',TucsonWeekly Best of Tucson Awards,
Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for Fiction                        1992,1993,1994,1995,1996,1997,1998,1999 (chosen bycity-wide vote)
Cowboy Hall of Fame Western Fiction Award                                 Louisville's 50 Favourite Novels: The bean trees,1998
American Booksellers Book of theYear (ABBY) (nomination)                  National Writers Union, Andrea Egan Award,1998
NewYorkTimes Notable Books                                                Arizona Civil Liberties Union Award,1998
Publisher's Weekly Audio Best of Year                                     Honorary PhD.,DePauw University,Greencastle,Indiana,1995
NewYorkTimes Bestseller (hardcover, trade paper)                          Woodrow Wilson Foundation/Lila Wallace Fellowship1992
Animal dreams                                                             Citation of Accomplishment from the United Nations National
Pen/USA West Fiction Award                                                   Council of Women of the United States,1989
ABBYfinalist                                                              First Place (Medium Publications,Feature Writing, Short Form),
Edward Abbey Award for Ecofiction                                            Arizona Press Club, for her profile of author Regan Forest
American Library Association Notable Book                                    (TucsonWeekly),1985
Arizona Library Association Book of theYear                               DePauw University Honor Scholarship,1973-76
NewYorkTimes Notable Book                                                 Phi Beta Kappa.



muse. I don't. Chain that muse to your desk     Kingsolver, the novel has never gone out of           Barbara Kingsolver lives with her hus-
and getthe job done.                            print and has been embraced by millions of         band Steven Hopp, and their two daugh-
   `Ilove revision. Revision is where the art   readers throughoutthe world. `A novel can          ters,Camille (bornin1987), and Lily (1996).
really happens, when you begin to manipu-       educateto some extent,'she told Publishers         They divide their time betweenTucson,
late, shiftthings around so your theme                   .
                                                Weekly `But first, a novel has to entertain -      Arizona, and a farm in southern
begins to shine through.'                       that's the contract with the reader: you           Appalachia. When not writing,Barbara
   From1985 through1987,Kingsolver was          give me ten hours and I'll give you a reason       gardens, cooks, and enjoys the outdoors
a freelance journalist by day, but she was      to turn every page. I have a commitmentto          with her family; works as an environmental
writing fiction by night. Married to a che-                  .
                                                accessibility I believe in plot. I want an         activist and human-rights advocate, and
mist in1985, she suffered from insomnia         English professor to understand the sym-           plays hand drums and keyboard with her
after becoming pregnantthe following year.      bolism while atthe same time I wantthe             guitarist husband. Hopp and Kingsolver
Instead of following her doctor's recom-        people I grew up with - who may not often          also co-write essays and articles on natural
mendationto scrub the bathroomtiles with        read anything butthe Sears catalogue - to          history, some of which appeared in Small
a toothbrush, she sat in a closet and began     read my books.'                                    wonder.
to writeThe bean trees, a novel about a            For Kingsolver, writing is a form of poli-         Given that Barbara Kingsolver's work
young woman who leaves rural Kentucky           tical engagement. When she was in her              covers the psychic and geographical terri-
(accent intact) and finds herself living in     twenties she discovered Doris Lessing. `I          tories that she knows first-hand, readers
urbanTucson.                                    read the Children of violence novels and           often assume that her work is
   The bean trees, published by Harper-         began to understand how a person could             autobiographical. `There are little things
Collins in1988, and re-issued in a special      write aboutthe problems of the world in a          that people who know me might recognise
ten-year anniversary hardcover edition in       compelling and beautiful way. And it               in my novels,'she acknowledges. `But my
1998, was enthusiastically received by          seemed to me that was the mostimportant            work is not about me. I don't ever write
critics. But, perhaps more importantto          thing I could ever do, if I could ever do that.'   about real people. That would be stealing,

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                                                          Kaapse Bibl., Sept/Okt 2004
                                                                       19
BOOK
   WORLD

firstof all. And second of all, artis supposed
to be better than that. If you want a slice of
life, look outthe window. An artist has to
look outthat window, isolate one or two
suggestive things, and embroider them
together with poetry and fabrication, to
create a revelation. If we can't, as artists,
improve on reallife, we should put down
our pencils and go bake bread.'
Sources
www.kingsolver.com
www.bookpage.com




                                                 Cape Libr., Sept/Oct 2004
                                                              20

				
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