"The Poisonwood Bible" is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it-- from garden seeds to Scripture-- is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.
The novel is set against one of the most dramatic political chronicles of the twentieth century: the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium, the murder of its first elected prime minister, the CIA coup to install his replacement, and the insidious progress of a world economic order that robs the fledgling African nation of its autonomy. Against this backdrop, Orleanna Price reconstructs the story of her evangelist husband's part in the Western assault on Africa, a tale indelibly darkened by her own losses and unanswerable questions about her own culpability. Also narrating the story, by turns, are her four daughters-- the self-centered, teenaged Rachel; shrewd adolescent twins Leah and Adah; and Ruth May, a prescient five-year-old. These sharply observant girls, who arrive in the Congo with racial preconceptions forged in 1950s Georgia, will be marked in surprisingly different ways by their father's intractable mission, and by Africa itself. Ultimately each must strike her own separate path to salvation. Their passionately intertwined stories become a compelling exploration of moral risk and personal responsibility.
Dancing between the dark comedy of human failings and the breathtaking possibilities of human hope, "The Poisonwood Bible" possesses all that has distinguished Barbara Kingsolver's previous work, and extends this beloved writer's vision to an entirely new level. Taking its place alongside the classic works of postcolonial literature, this ambitious novel establishes Kingsolver as one of the most thoughtful and daring of modern writers.
Barbara Kingsolver is the author of nine bestselling works of fiction, including the novels, Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, and The Bean Trees, as well as books of poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction. Her work of narrative nonfiction is the enormously influential bestseller Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Kingsolver's work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned literary awards and a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country's highest honor for service through the arts, as well as the prestigious Dayton Literary Peace Prize for her body of work. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.
"Kingsolver's powerful new book is actually an old-fashioned 19th-century novel, a Hawthornian tale of sin and redemption and the 'dark necessity' of history." -- Michiko Kakutani, "New York Times""Haunting . . . A novel of character, a narrative shaped by keen-eyed women."-- Front page, Verlyn Klinkenborg, "New York Times Book Review" "Barbara Kingsolver has dreamed a magnificent fiction and a ferocious bill of indictment..What we have here--with this new, mature, angry, heartbroken, expansive out-of-Africa Kingsolver--is at last our very own Lessing and our very own Gordimer." -- "The Nation""A powerful new epic . . . She has with infinitely steady hands worked the prickly threads of religion, politics, race, sin and redemption into a thing of terrible beauty."-- "Los Angeles Times Book Review" "Fully realized, richly embroidered, triumphant."-- "Newsweek"Powerful . . . Kingsolver is a gifted magician of words." -- "Time""There are few ambitious, successful and beautiful novels. Lucky for us, we have one now, in Barbara Kingsolver's "The Poisonwood Bible" . . . his awed reviewer hardly knows where to begin." -- Jane Smiley, "Washington Post Book World" "Beautifully written . . . Kingsolver's tale of domestic tragedy is more than just a well-told yarn . . . Played out against the bloody backdrop of political struggles in Congo that continue to this day, it is also particularly timely." -- "People" "Tragic, and remarkable . . . A novel that blends outlandish experience with Old Testament rhythms of prophecy and doom."-- "USA Today" "The book's sheer enjoyability is given depth by Kingsolver's insight and compassion for Congo, including its people, and their language and sayings."--"Boston Globe" "Most impressive are the humor and insight with which Kingsolver describes a global epic, proving just how personal the political can be." -- "Glamour" "Compelling, lyrical and utterly believable."--" Chicago Tribune" "A triple-decker, different coming-of-age novel, but also a clever look at language and cultures." -- "San Diego Union-Tribune""A bravura performance . . . A subtle and complex creation, dealing with epic subjects with invention and courage and a great deal of heart." -- "Newsday" "A novel that brims with excitement and rings with authority." -- "Portland Oregonian""Kingsolver's work is a magnum opus, a parable encompassing a biblical structure and a bibliography, and a believable cast of African characters." -- "Atlanta Journal-Constitution""Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonder." -- William Faulkner