Bibliography | Books | Awards & Honors
Books by Barbara Kingsolver
- Flight Behavior. HarperCollins (New York), 2012.
- The Lacuna. HarperCollins (New York), 2009.
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. HarperCollins (New York), 2007.
- Small Wonder. Harper Collins (New York), 2002.
- Last Stand: America’s Virgin Lands. Photographs by Annie Griffiths Belt. National Geographic Society (Washington), 2002.
- Prodigal Summer. HarperCollins (New York), 2000.
- The Poisonwood Bible. HarperCollins (New York), 1998.
- High Tide in Tucson: Essays From Now or Never. HarperCollins (New York), 1995.
- Pigs in Heaven. Harper Perennial (New York), 1993.
- Another America/Otra América. Seal Press (Seattle, WA), 1992.
- Animal Dreams. Harper Perennial (New York), 1990.
- Homeland and Other Stories. Harper & Row (New York), 1989.
- Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983. Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1989.
- The Bean Trees. Harper & Row (New York), 1988.
Contributions to Anthologies
- "A Pure High Note of Anguish." War No More, edited by Lawrence Rosenwald, Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., distributed in the United States by Penguin Random House, New York, 2016.
- "Bird-Watching with My Dad." Foreword for The Living Bird from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, with photography by Gerrit Vyn, Mountaineer Books, Seattle WA, 2015.
- "The Pair," Two, photographs by Melissa Ann Pinney, edited by Ann Patchett, Harper Design (New York), 2015.
- "Where It Begins," in The Best American and Science Writing 2014 edited by Deborah Blum and Tim Folger, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (New York), 2014.
- Introduction for The Awakening by Kate Chopin, reissued by Canongate Books Ltd. (London), 2014.
- "How Mr. Dewey Decimal Saved My Life," in The Public Library: A Photographic Essay, by Robert Dawson. Princeton Architectural Press. (New York), 2014.
- "Where to Begin," in Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting, edited by Ann Hood. W.W. Norton & Company. (New York), 2014.
- "Reconstructing Our Desires," in Literature and Culture: A Reader on Nature and Culture, edited by Lorraine Anderson, Scott Slovic and John P. O'Grady. Pearson. (Upper Saddle River, NJ), 2013.
- Summary and excerpts from The Poisonwood Bible in The Moral of the Story: An Introduction to Ethics, edited by Nina Rosenstand. McGraw-Hill. (New York), 2013.
- "Another American Way," in Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement, edited by Amy Schrager Lang and Daniel Lang/Levitsky. New Internationalist Publications Ltd. (Oxford, United Kingdom), 2012.
- “The One Eyed Monster and Why I Don’t Let Him In” from Small Wonder in Companions in Wonder: Children and Adults Exploring Nature Together, edited by Julie Dunlap and Stephen R. Kellert. The MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2011.
- Excerpt from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in The Conscious Kitchen: The New Way to Buy and Cook Food—to protect the Earth, Improve Your Health, and Eat Deliciously by Alexandra Zissu. Clarkson Potter (New York), 2010.
- Excerpt from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World, edited by Martin Keogh. North Atlantic Books (Berkeley, CA), to be released September 7, 2010.
- “How to Be Hopeful” in Creating a Life You’ll Love, edited by Mark Chimsky-Lustig. Sellers Publishing (South Portland, ME), 2009.
- “Household Words” in Creating Nonfiction: A Guide and Anthology, by Becky Bradway and Doug Hesse. Bedford / St. Martin’s (Boston, MA), 2009.
- Excerpt from The Poisonwood Bible in Sisters: An Anthology, edited by Jan Freeman, Emily Wojcik, and Deborah Bull. Paris Press (Ashfield, MA), 2009.
- Foreword for Thoreau’s Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming, a project of the Union of Concerned Scientists and Penguin Classics, edited by Richard Hayes. Penguin Classics (Cambridge, MA), 2009.
- “The Blessings of Dirty Work” in Hunger and Thirst: Food Literature, edited by Nancy Cary, June Cressy, Ella deCastro Baron, Alys Masek and Trissy McGhee. San Diego City Works Press (San Diego, CA), 2008.
- “Letter to a Daughter at 13” in The Maternal is Political: Women Writers at the Intersection of Motherhood and Social Change, edited by Shari MacDonald Strong. Seal Press (Berkeley, CA), 2008.
- “The Monster’s Belly” in Seeds of Fire: Contemporary Poetry from the Other USA, edited by Jon Anderson. Smokestack Books (Middlesbrough, UK), 2008.
- Excerpt from “Lily’s Chickens” in Voluntary Simplicity. Northwest Earth Institute (Portland, OR), 2008.
- “How Mr. Dewey Decimal Saved My Life” in After the Bell: Contemporary American Prose About School, edited by Maggie Anderson and David Hassler. University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 2007.
- “Why I Am a Danger to the Public” in The Aunt Lute Anthology of U.S. Women Writers, Volume 2, The 20th Century edited by Lisa Marie Hogeland and Shay Brawn. Aunt Lute Books (San Francisco, CA), 2007.
- “Waiting for Asparagus” in Best Food Writing 2007, edited by Holly Hughes. The Perseus Books Group (New York), 2007.
- Excerpt of “The One-Eyed Monster, and Why I Don’t Let Him In” in Living Outside the Box: TV-Free Families Share Their Secrets by Barbara Brock. Eastern Washington University Press (Spokane, WA), 2007.
- Excerpt from Prodigal Summer in Mighty Giants: An American Chestnut Anthology, edited by Chris Bolgiano and Glenn Novak. Images from the Past (Bennington, VT), 2007.
- “The Art of Buying Nothing” in Wendell Berry: Life and Work, edited by Jason Peters. University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 2007.
- “Lily’s Chickens” in Child Honoring: How to Turn This World Around, edited by Raffi Cavoukian and Sharna Olfman. Praeger (Westport, Conn., London), 2006.
- Excerpt from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in The Complete Organic Pregnancy, by Deidre Dolan and Alexandra Zissu. HarperCollins Publishers (New York), 2006.
- Numerous definitions in Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney. Trinity University Press (San Antonio, TX), 2006.
- “Civil Disobedience at Breakfast” in At Work in Life’s Garden: Writers on the Spiritual Adventure of Parenting, edited by Sarah Conover and Tracy Springberry. Eastern Washington University Press (Spokane, WA), 2005.
- Excerpt from Prodigal Summer in Birds in the Hand: Fiction and Poetry About Birds, edited by Dylan Nelson and Kent Nelson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York), 2005.
- “Deadline,” “Our Father Who Drowns the Birds” and “Refuge” in Imagine a World: Poetry for Peacemakers, compiled by Peggy Rosenthal. PaxChristi USA (Erie, PA), 2005.
- “Letter to a Daughter at 13” in I Wanna Be Sedated: 30 Writers on Parenting Teenagers, edited by Faith Conlon and Gail Hudson. Seal Press / Avalon Publishing Group (Emeryville, CA), 2005.
- Excerpt from “The Memory Place” in Of Woods and Waters: A Kentucky Outdoor Reader, edited by Ron Ellis. University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 2005.
- “Sea to Shining Sea” adapted from “Knowing Our Place,” in America 24/7. DK Books (New York), 2003.
- Foreword in The Essential Agrarian Reader, edited by Norman Wirzba. University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 2003.
- “Stone Soup” in The McGraw-Hill Reader: Issues Across the Disciplines. McGraw-Hill (New York), 2003.
- “Canary Island” in Our Own Anthology, New York Times, 2003.
- “My Desert Pond” in Sisters of the Earth, edited by Lorraine Anderson. Vintage Books (New York), 2003.
- Excerpts from The Bean Trees and Prodigal Summer in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia, edited by Sandra L. Ballard and Patricia Hudson. The University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 2003.
- “The Good Farmer ” in Mountain Record: The Zen Practitioner’s Journal, Vol. XXII, No. 1. Dharma Communications (Mt. Tremper, NY), 2003.
- “Beating Time” in Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach, Sam M. Intrator, Megan Scribner, Parker J. Palmer, Tom Vander Ark. Jossey Bass (San Francisco), 2003.
- “A Pure High Note of Anguish” in Women On War, edited by Daniela Gioseffi. The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2003.
- “The Middle Daughter” and “Remember the Moon Survives” in A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-five Years of Women’s Poetry, edited by Margarita Donnelly, Beverly McFarland, and Micki Reaman. Calyx Books (Corvallis, OR), 2002.
- “What Has Changed For All of Us” in After 9/11: Solutions For a Saner World, edited by Don Hazen, Tate Hausman, Tamara Straus, and Michelle Chihara. Independent Media Institute (San Francisco), 2002.
- “No Glory in Unjust War on the Weak” in The Moral of the Story by Nina Rosenstand, McGraw-Hill Companies, 2002.
- “A Pure, High Note of Anguish” in September 11, 2001: Feminist Perspectives, edited by Susan Hawthorne and Bronwyn Winter. Spinifex Press (Australia), 2002.
- “Saying Grace” in This Land Is Your Land: Turning to Nature In a Time of Crisis, 2002.
- “Messing With the Sacred,” Appalachian Journal, Vol. 28 No. 3, Spring 2001.
- “Seeing Scarlet” written with Steven L. Hopp in The Best American Science and Nature Writing, edited by Edward O. Wilson. Houghton Mifflin (Boston), 2001.
- Introduction in The Best American Short Stories 2001, edited by Barbara Kingsolver, Houghton Mifflin (Boston), 2001.
- High Tide In Tucson” in Getting Over the Color Green, edited by Scott Slovic. University of Arizona Press (Tucson), 2001.
- “Homeland” in Homeland and Beyond: An Anthology of Kentucky Short Stories, edited by Morris Allen Grubbs. University Press of Kentucky (Lexington), 2001.
- “A Forbidden Territory Familiar to All” in Writers [on Writing]: Collected Essays from The New York Time. Henry Holt and Company (New York), 2001.
- Untitled in Endangered: Your Child in a Hostile World, edited by Johann Christoph Arnold. Plough Publishing (Rifton, NY), 2000.
- “In the Belly of the Beast” in Learning to Glow: A Nuclear Reader, edited by John Bradley. University of Arizona Press (Tucson), 2000.
- “This House I Cannot Leave” and “Deadline” in Literature and Society: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Nonfiction, Pamela J. Annas and Robert C. Rosen. Prentice Hall (Upper Saddle River, NJ), 2000.
- “Homeland” in My Favorite Fantasy Story, edited by Martin H. Greenberg. Daw Books Inc. (New York), 2000.
- “Journeys” essay in “Three Minutes or Less.” Paris Review, edited by George Plimpton. The Paris Review (Flushing, NY), Winter 1999-2000.
- “Deadline” and passages from The Poisonwood Bible in Sisters In Pain by L. Elisabeth Beattie and M.A. Shaugnessy. University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 2000.
- “Journeys” in Three Minutes or Less: Life Lessons from America’s Greatest Writers, by Pen / Faulkner Foundation. Bloomsbury Publishing (London), 2000.
- “Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983” in Western Women’s Reader: The Remarkable Writings of Women Who Shaped the American West, Spanning 300 Years, edited by Lillian Schlissel and Catherine Lavender. HarperPerrenial (New York), 2000.
- “How Poems Happen” in The Beacon Best of 1999: Creative Writing by Women and Men of All Colors, edited by Ntozake Shange. Beacon Press (Boston), 1999.
- “Deadline” in A Map of Hope: Women’s Writing on Human Rights, edited by Marjorie Agosin. Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ, and London), 1998.
- “Deadline” in The American Voice: Anthology of Poetry, edited by Frederick Smock. The University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 1998.
- “Stone Soup” in Here and Now: Current Readings for Writers, edited by Gilbert H. Muller. McGraw-Hill (New York), 1998.
- “Making Peace” in Intimate Nature: The Bond between Women and Animals, edited by Linda Hogan, D. Metzger, and B. Peterson. Ballantine (New York, NY), 1998.
- “Knowing Our Place,” foreword for Off the Beaten Path: Stories of Place. Farrar Strauss (New York), 1998.
- “A Woman’s Unease About the Men’s Movement” in Mastering the Art of Everyday Living. Utne Reader(Minneapolis, MN), 1997.
- “Secret Animals” in Fish Stories Collective III, edited by Erin Fossett. WorkShirts Writers Center (Chicago), 1997.
- “Letter to My Mother” in I’ve Always Meant to Tell You: Letters to Our Mothers, edited by Constance Warlow. Pocket Books (New York), 1997.
- “A Mean Eye” in Walking the Twilight: Women Writers of the Southwest, edited by Kathryn Wilder. Northland (Flagstaff, AZ), 1997.
- “Quality Time” in Mothers: Twenty Stories of Contemporary Motherhood, edited by Katrina Kenison and Kathleen Hirsch. Farrar Straus & Giroux (New York), 1996.
- “Creation Stories” in Getting Over the Color Green: Southwestern American Literature: An Anthology of Contemporary Environmental Literature from the American Southwest. University of Nevada Press (Reno, NV), 1995.
- “Quality Time” in Mother, edited by Claudia O’Keefe. Pocket Books (New York), 1995.
- “Stone Dreams” in ‘Did My Mama Like to Dance?’ and Other Stories About Mothers and Daughters, edited by Geeta Lothari. Avon Books (New York), 1994.
- “The Memory Place” in Heart of the Land: Essays on Last Great Places, edited by Joseph Barbato. Pantheon (New York), 1994.
- “Somewhere Under the Rainbow” in I Should Have Stayed Home: The Worst Trips of Great Writers, edited by Roger Rapoport and Marguerita Castanera. Book Passage Press (Berkeley, CA), 1994.
- “Going to Japan” in Journeys, edited by PEN-Faulkner Foundation. Quill & Bush (Rockville, MD), 1994.
- “Confession of the Reluctant Remainder” in Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude, edited by Dave Marsh. Viking (New York), 1994.
- “Quality Time” in The Single Mother’s Companion: Essays and Stories by Women, edited by Marsha R. Leslie. Seal Press (Seattle, WA), 1994.
- “Fault Lines” in Writers Harvest, edited by William H. Shore. Harcourt, Brace & Co. (Orlando, FL), 1994.
- “Why I Am a Danger to the Public” in Dreamers and Desperadoes: Contemporary Short Fiction of the American West, edited by Craig Lesley. Laurel (New York), 1993.
- “Rose-Johnny” in First Sightings: Contemporary Stories of American Youth, edited by John Loughery. Persea Books (New York), 1993.
- “Why I Am a Danger to the Public” in New Writers of the Purple Sage: An Anthology of Recent Western Writing, edited by Russell Martin. Penguin (New York, NY), 1992.
- “Deadline” in Peace Prayers: Meditations, Affirmations, Invocations, Poems and Prayers for Peace, edited by Carrie Leadingham, Joann E. Moschella, Hilary M. Vartanian. HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1992.
- “Cabbages and Kings” in Women Respond to the Men’s Movement: A Feminist Collection, edited by Kay Leigh Hagan. Pandora (San Francisco), 1992.
- “Pizza Odysseus” in Padre Kino’s Favorite Meatloaf and Other Recipes from Baja Arizona. Community Food Bank of Tucson, 1991.
- “Rose-Johnny” in New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, 1988, edited by S. Ravenel. Algonquin Books (Chapel Hill, NC), 1988.
- Rebirth of Power: Overcoming the Effects of Sexual abuse through the Experiences of Others. Mother Courage Press (Racine, WI), 1987.
Articles, Stories and Essays in periodicals
Articles noted with + were later published in essay collections, often in substantially revised form.
- "A View from the South: Let the Confederate Flag Go." The Guardian, July 3, 2015.
- "The Weight of a Falling Sky." Ms. Magazine, February 26, 2015.
- "An Inner Life." The New York Times Book Review of Kimberly Elkins's What is Visible, June 5, 2014.
- "The Botany of Desire." The New York Times Book Review of Elizabeth Gilbert's Signature of All Things, September 26, 2013.
- "The Other Sister." The New York Times Book Review of Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, June 6, 2013.
- "A New Kind of Day" (Excerpt from Flight Behavior.) Orion Magazine, September / October, 2012.
- "Another American Way.” The Occupied Wall Street Journal, Nov. 18, 2011.
- "Once On This Island." The New York Times Book Review of T.C. Boyle's When the Killing's Done, Feb. 18, 2011.
- “Reconstructing Our Desires.” The Progressive, December 2010 / January 2011.
- “Ear to the Ground.” New York Time Book Review of E.O. Wilson’s Anthill, April 9, 2010.
- "Water is Life.” National Geographic, April, 2010.
- “The Color Red.” AARP Magazine, May and June, 2009.
- “Knowing Our Place.” Read magazine, May 1, 2009.
- "Reading list for the new president.” New York Times, 2009
- “What Money Doesn’t Buy.” World Ark Magazine, March / April 2009
- “How to be Hopeful.” Resurgence Magazine, January / February, 2009.
- New Year’s resolution, Resurgence Magazine, January / February, 2009.
- “Reclaiming the Kitchen” (excerpt from AVM). Mother Earth News, June / July, 2008.
- “How to Be Hopeful.” The Land Report, Summer, 2008.
- “Waiting for Asparagus” excerpt from AVM. geez magazine Winter, 2007.
- “City Slickers and Clod Hoppers” (excerpt from AVM). geez magazine Winter, 2007.
- “Our Dirty Work.” Washington Post, Sept. 30, 2007.
- “No Bananas, but Lots of Tomatoes” (excerpt from AVM). The Guardian, June 27, 2007.
- “Growing Trust”(excerpt from AVM). Mother Earth News, June / July, 2007.
- “Stalking the Vegetannual”(excerpt from AVM). Orion, March / April, 2007.
- “DIY Cheese” (excerpt from AVM). Food and Wine, May 2006.
- “Following the Ancient Paths” in World Ark Magazine, September / October, 2005.
- “Not Just to Get, But to Give” in World Ark Magazine, July / August 2005.
- “Turkey Tomfoolery” in Farming Magazine, 2004.
- “Small Wonder” from Small Wonder. Peace & Freedom, Vol. 64 No. 1, Winter 2004.
- “Vaya con Dios, Tucson.” Arizona Daily Star, May 9, 2004.
- “A Good Farmer” from The Essential Agrarian Reader. Mountain Record, Dharma Communications Periodicals, Fall 2003.
- “Bourbon for Dinner.” Food & Wine Magazine, Nov. 2003.
- “A Good farmer.” The Nation, Nov. 3, 2003.
- “The Way to Nueva Vida,” excerpt from “A Forest’s Last Stand” in Small Wonder. Sierra Magazine. Sept-Oct; 2003.
- Excerpt from “No Glory in Unjust War on the Weak.” Boston Research Center for the 21st Century, Fall 2002/Winter 2003: No. 20.
- “Saying Grace” in Timeline No. 68, Foundation for Global Community, March/April 2003.
- “A Fist In The Eye of God,” Mother Earth News, August/September 2002.
- “Small Wonder,” Orion Magazine, Summer 2002.
- “A Fist In the Eye of God,” Plough Reader, Summer 2002.
- “It’s My Flag Too,” excerpt, Reader’s Digest, July 2002.
- “Saying Grace” in World Ark Magazine, Heifer International, Fall 2002.
- “It’s My Flag, Too.” Publishers Weekly, Feb. 4, 2002.
- “It’s My Flag, Too.” San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 13, 2002.
- “Everybody’s Flag.” Tucson Weekly, Jan. 10, 2002.
- “Saying Grace,” Audubon, January 2002.
- “The Mean Eye” from Pigs in Heaven. Tucson Guide Quarterly, Madden Publishing, Winter 2002.
- “Reflections on Wartime.” Washington Post, Nov. 23, 2001.
- “Local Foods that Please the Soul.” New York Times, Nov. 22, 2001.
- “Knowing Our Place,” Mother Earth News, October/November 2001.
- “Notebook.” New Republic, Vol. 225 n° 17, Oct. 10, 2001.
- “No Glory in Unjust War on the Weak.” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 14, 2001.
- “Una pura y elevada nota de angustia,” La Jornada, 5 October 2001.
- “What Has Changed for All of Us.” Boston Globe, Sep. 26, 2001.
- “And Our Flag Was Still There.” San Francisco Chronicle, Sep. 25, 2001.
- “A Pure, High Note of Anguish.” Los Angeles Times, Sep. 23, 2001.
- “Old Chestnuts” from Prodigal Summer. Tucson Quarterly, Madden Publishing, Summer 2001.
- “Rethinking Patriotism: `Only we have the power to demolish our own ideals.’” Arizona Daily Star, September 30, 2001.
- “Old Chestnuts” from Prodigal Summer. Book magazine, West Egg Communications, Sept. / Oct. 2000.
- “Somebody’s Baby.” The Plough Reader, Autumn 2000.
- “Lacewings.” Redbook, Nov. 2000.
- “Seeing Scarlet” with Steven L. Hopp. Audubon Magazine, Sept.-Oct. 2000.
- “The Patience of a Saint” with Steven L. Hopp. National Geographic Magazine, Apr. 2000.
- “A Forbidden Territory Familiar to All.” The New York Times, March 27, 2000.
- “Civil Disobedience at Breakfast.” Brain, Child Magazine. Ed. Stephanie Wilkinson, Spring 2000.
- “Life is Precious—or It’s Not: Littleton’s Aftermath.” Los Angeles Times, May 2, 1999.
- “Desert Blooms” with Steven L. Hopp. Natural History, May 1999.
- Excerpt from the introduction for Off the Beaten Path. The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC. March 14, 1999.
- “The Passing of a Landmark.” The Arizona Daily Star, Jan. 8, 1999.
- “What the Janitor Heard in the Elevator” in Crone’s Nest, No. 5, 1999.
- “Survival of the Fittest” (review of The Evolution of Jane by Cathleen Schine). New York Times Book Review, Oct. 11, 1998.
- “A Forest’s Last Stand in Mexico.” Natural History, 1998.
- Excerpt of “How Poems Happen. ” Utne Reader, July / August 1998.
- “Between the Covers” (review of A Widow for One Year, by John Irving). The Washington Post, May 24, 1998.
- “How I Stopped Worrying about Housework.” Working Mother, Jan. 1997.
- “The Muscle Mystique.” Official Spa Directory of North America. Fall 1996.
- “The Power of Fiction.” DePauw University magazine, Spring 1996.
- “Stone Soup.” Tucson Weekly, Sept. 28, 1995.
- “Downscale in Topanga Canyon” (review of The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle). Nation. Sept. 25, 1995.
- “Heart of the Land: Acclaimed Writers Portray the Nature Conservancy’s ‘Last Great Places.’” Nature Conservancy, March-Apr. 1995. (From “The Memory Place” in High Tide in Tucson: Essays From Now or Never.)
- “Hawaii Preserved in an Enchanted Crater.” New York Times Magazine, March 5, 1995. +
- “The New American Family: The Way We Are.” Parenting, March 1995. +
- “Where Everybody Really Loves a Baby.” Parenting, 1994. +
- “License to Love (Should You Need a License to Be a Parent?)” Parenting, Nov. 1994. (Used in “Somebody’s Baby,” High Tide in Tucson.)
- “Faultlines.” Buzz, September 1994.
- “Not in Their Backyards” (review of Called Out by A. G. Mojtabal). New York Times Book Review, June 19, 1994.
- “A Metaphysics of Resistance” (review of Forged Under the Sun / Forjado Bajo el Sol: The Life of Maria Elena Lucas by Fran Leeper Buss). The Women’s Review of Books, Feb. 1994.
- “Desire Under the Palms.” New York Times, Feb. 6, 1994.
- “Brazil” (review of novel by John Updike). New York Times Book Review, Feb. 6, 1994.
- “The Forest in the Seeds” (review of Faith in a Seed: The Dispersion of Seeds and Other Late Natural History Writings by Henry D. Thoreau). Natural History, Oct. 1993. +
- “The Heard Museum: Native American Culture Comes Alive in Phoenix.” Architectural Digest, June 1993. +
- “Desert Heat: So far from God” (review of novel by Ana Castillo). Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 16, 1993.
- “Lush Language.” Los Angeles Times, May 16, 1993.
- “His-and-Hers Politics.” Utne Reader, Jan.-Feb. 1993. +
- “Fault Lines.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Vol. 12 n°3, Winter 1992.
- “Secret Animals.” Turnstile, Dec. 3, 1992.
- “What Happens When Justice Turns a Blind Eye?” Newsday, Oct. 25, 1992.
- “Kingdom of Mystery and Magic [Benin].” New York Times Magazine, Sept. 12, 1992. +
- “Whipsawed in Washington: The Living” (review of novel by Annie Dillard). Nation, May 25, 1992.
- “Where the Map Stopped.” New York Times Magazine, May 17, 1992.
- “The Prince Thing.” Women’s Day, Feb. 18, 1992.
- “Everybody’s Somebody’s Baby.” New York Times Magazine, Feb. 9, 1992. +
- “Poetic Fiction with a Tex-Mex Tilt” (review of Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros). Los Angeles Times, Apr. 28, 1991.
- “My Father’s Africa.” McCall’s, August 1991.
- “Fish Fall From the Sky for a Reason” (review of The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende, translated by Margaret Sayers Peden). New York Times Book Review, Jan. 20, 1991.
- “A Separate Peace.” Special Report: Fiction, Nov. 1990-Jan. 1991. +
- “A Clean Sweep.” New York Times Magazine, N° 140, Dec. 30, 1990. +
- “Worlds in Collision” (review of Mean Spirit by Linda Hogan). Los Angeles Times Book Review, Nov.4, 1990.
- “After a Finger Workout, It’s Great Pumping Iron.” Smithsonian, Vol. 21. n°6, Sept. 1990.+
- “River of Traps: A Village Life” (review of William de Buys and Alex Harris, photographer). New York Times Book Review, Special Section: University Presses, Sept. 23, 1990.
- “Ah, Sweet Mystery of… Well, Not Exactly Love.” Smithsonian, Vol. 21 n°3, June 1990.+
- “Notes From Underground” (review of Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of America’s Bloody Coal Industry by Priscilla Long). The Women’s Review of Books, June 1990.
- “Life without Go-Go Boots.” Denver Post, Apr. 22, 1990. +
- “Life without Go-Go Boots.” Lands’ End Catalogue. March, 1990. +
- “Where Love Is Nurtured and Confined” (review of Me and My Baby View the Eclipse by Lee Smith). Los Angeles Times Book Review, Feb. 18, 1990.
- “Mormon Memories, Angeleno Enigmas” (review of The Chinchilla Farm by Judith Freeman). Los Angeles Times Book Review, Nov. 19, 1989.
- “The Lost Language of Love.” Mademoiselle, May 1989.
- “Albert Uplifts Anything” (review of The Floatplane Notebooks, by Clyde Edgerton). New York Times Book Review, Oct. 22, 1989.
- “Some Can Whistle” (review of novel by Larry McMurtry). New York Times Book Review, Oct. 22, 1989.
- “Precious Little Time.” Red Book, July 1989.
- “Bereaved Apartments.” Tucson Guide Quarterly, Spring 1989.
- “Tribute to Edward Abbey.” Tucson Weekly, Vol. 6 n° 7, Apr. 1989.
- “Night Time Losing Time” (review of novel by Michael Ventura). New York Times Book Review, Apr. 2, 1989.
- “The Widows’ Adventures” (review of novel by Charles Dickinson). New York Times Book Review, 1989.
- “Her Own Vision: Frances Murray: Taking Photographic Chances.” Tucson Weekly, March 9-15, 1988.
- “Surviving Fatherhood” (review of None of this Will Kill Me: Poems of Fatherhood, by Jefferson Carter). Tucson Weekly, June 3, 1987.
- “Exotic Watercolors.” Southwest Profile, Vol. 10 n°3, March-Apr. 1987.
- “A Conversation with Milosz.” Tucson Weekly, March 4-10, 1987.
- “Public Voices, Private Dreams: The Importance of Words Takes Priority this Weekend at the Fifth Annual Tucson Poetry Festival.” Tucson Weekly. March 4-10, 1987.
- “Winning Hearts: Gila Monsters, Hippos, and Happiness: the Fanciful Gifts of Marjorie Sharmat, Tucson’s Renowned Children’s Author.” Tucson Weekly, Vol. 3 n°52, Feb. 18-24, 1987.
- “Cognitive Dissonance.” Southwest Profile, Vol. 9 n°8, Jan. 1987.
- “They Always Have the Time.” Tucson Weekly, Jan. 21-27, 1987.
- “Rose-Johnny.” Virginia Quarterly Review, N°63, Winter 1987.
- “Prison Poets: Dialogue from Behind the Walls.” Tucson Weekly, Vol. 3 n°44. Dec. 22-28, 1986.
- “Time Bombs on Wheels: If You’re Driving without Insurance, Your Number May Soon Be Up.” Tucson Weekly, Dec. 17-23, 1986.
- “Art Under Fire: In Chile It Takes Courage to Create.” Tucson Weekly, Dec. 3-9, 1986.
- “Tucson Artist MarCyne Johnson.” Southwest Profile, Nov.-Dec. 1986.
- “Near and Brown: A Musical Convergence.” Tucson Weekly, Oct. 29-Nov. 4, 1986.
- “Continuity of Life.” Southwest Profile, Sep.-Oct. 1986.
- “Missile Museum: Green Valley’s Latest Attraction.” Tucson Weekly, July 2-8, 1986. +
- “Why I Am a Danger to the Public.” New Times, Jan. 4-10, 1986.
- “A Musical Gift from the South.” Tucson Weekly, June 11-17, 1986.
- “Ancient Symbols.” Southwest Profile, Jan.-Feb. 1986.
- “The Art and Ideas of Luis Jimenez.” Tucson Weekly, Dec. 4-10, 1985.
- “What We Eat and They Don’t: The Hunger Connection.” Tucson Weekly, Oct. 9-15, 1985.
- “Everywoman’s Answer to Octopussy: The Modern Romance.” Tucson Weekly, Aug. 21-27, 1985.
- “Imagination Unlimited at TMA School.” Tucson Weekly, Aug. 7-13, 1985.
- “To Be in Love with the World.” Tucson Weekly, July 31-Aug. 6, 1985.
- “Summer Relief for Tucson and Nicaragua.” Tucson Weekly, July 17-23, 1985.
- “Black Culture Featured in Juneteenth.” Tucson Weekly, June 12-18, 1985.
- “World of Foes” (review of Endless Enemies: The Making of an Unfriendly World, by Jonathan Kwitny). Progressive, Dec.1984.
- “Women on the Line.” Co-written with Jill Barrett Fein. The Progressive, March 1984.
- “Intervention: Your Tax Dollars at Work.” Coyote, Vol. 2 n°7, Aug. 1983.
- “Tucson Residents Fight Atomic Poisoning.” The Militant, July 13, 1979.
- “In Defense of Ourselves: A Talk with Willie Mae Reid.” Source, Dec. 1977.
Theses and Scientific Articles by Barbara Kingsolver
- “Bioresources Research Facility.” Arid Lands: Communities and Legacies, 1985.
- Phytochemical Adaptations to Stress, edited by Timmermann, Barbara, N., Steelink Cornelius and Frank A. Loewus. N.p.: Plenum Publishing Corporation, 1984.
- “Production of Resins by Arid-AdaptedAsterae,” Hoffmann, Joseph, J., Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen P. McClaughlin and N. Barbara Timmerman, 1984.
- “Biocrude Production in Arid Lands.” McClaughlin, Steven, P., Kingsolver, Barbara and J. Joseph Hoffman. Economic Botany, The New York Botanical Garden, Apr.-June 1983.
- “Products From Desert Plants: A Multi-Process Approach to Biomass Conversion,” Hoffman, Joseph J. and Barbara Kingsolver. University of Arizona, 1983.
- “Euphorbia Lathyris Reconsidered: Its Potential as an Energy Crop for Arid Lands.” Biomass, N°2, 1982.
- “Kin Selection among Heterotermes Aureus,” University of Arizona, 1981.
Audio Recordings of Barbara Kingsolver’s Work
- Flight Behavior. Unabridged. Read by the author. Harper Audio, 2012.
- The Lacuna. Unabridged. Read by the author. Harper Audio, 2009.
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Unabridged. Read by the authors. Harper Audio, 2007.
- Small Wonder. Unabridged. Read by the author. Harper Audio, 2002.
- Prodigal Summer. Unabridged. Read by the author. Harper Audio, 2000.
- Holding the Line. Unabridged. Read by Susan Toren. Recorded Books, 1999.
- The Poisonwood Bible. Unabridged. Read by Dean Robertson. Brilliance Audio, 1998.
- Homeland and Other Stories. Abridged. Read by the author. Harper Audio, 1995.
- High Tide in Tucson. Abridged. Read by the author. Harper Audio, 1995.
- The Bean Trees. Unabridged. Read by C. J. Critt. Recorded Books, 1994.
- Animal Dreams. Unabridged. Read by C. J. Critt. Recorded Books, 1994.
- Pigs in Heaven. Unabridged. Read by C. J. Critt. Recorded Books, 1993.
- "Moving Mountains." Emory & Henry College, 2011.
- “How to be Hopeful.” Duke University, 2008.
- “Picking Up the Bread.” Centre College, 2005.
Published Works About Barbara Kingsolver and her Writing
- Boyles, Christina. "And the Gulf Did Not Devour Them: The Gulf as a Site of Transformation in Anzaldua's Borderlands and Kingsolver's The Lacuna." The Southern Literary Journal, Volume XLVI, No. 2, Spring 2014.
- Wagner-Martin, Linda. Barbara Kingsolver's World: Nature, Art, and the Twenty-First Century. New York, London, New Delhi, Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2014.
- McManamay, Jennifer. "Scientist Gets Her Way with Words." Sweet Briar Magazine, Volume 84 No. 1, Summer 2013. http://sbc.edu/magazine/scientist-gets-her-way-with-words/
- Supin, Jeanne. "The Moral Universe: Barbara Kingsolver on Writing, Politics, and Human Nature." The Sun Magazine, March 2014, Issue 459.
- McManamay, Jennifer. "Scientist Gets Her Way with Words." Sweet Briar Magazine, Volume 84 No. 1, Summer 2013. http://sbc.edu/magazine/scientist-gets-her-way-with-words/
- House, Silas. "Feeling a Sacred Trust." Chapter 16, March 1, 2012. http://www.chapter16.org/content/novelist-and-activist-silas-house-talks-novelist-and-activist-barbara-kingsolver-about-need-
- The Iron Mountain Review (published under the auspices of the Department of Emory & Henry College), Barbara Kingsolver Issue, Volume XXVIII, Spring 2012.
- Bender, Bert. "Darwin and Ecology in Novels by Jack London and Barbara Kingsolver," Studies in American Naturalism, Volume 6, Number 2, Winter 2011.
- Jaggi, Maya. "A Life in Writing: Barbara Kingsolver." The Guardian (London), June 11, 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/jun/12/life-in-writing-barbara-kingsolver
- Cochrane, Kira. "Barbara Kingsolver: from witch hunt to winner."The Guardian (London), June 10, 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/jun/10/barbara-kingsolver-orange-prize
- Meillon, Bénédicte. " Literary Resistance in Barbara Kingsolver’s Homeland." Le travail de la résistance. Ed. Yves-Charles Grandjeat. Pessac : Presses Universitaires de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme d’Aquitaine, 2008.
- Meillon, Bénédicte. “Aimé Césaire’s A Season in Congo and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible in the light of Postcolonialism.” Divergences & Convergences. Anglophonia. Toulouse : Presses Universitaires du Mirail. N°21, 2007.
Jones, Suzanne W. "The Southern Family Farm as Endangered Species: Possibilities for Survival in Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer." Southern Literary Journal, volume XXXIX, number 1, Fall 2006.
Meillon, Bénédicte. "Barbara Kingsolver’s Homeland and Other Stories about Another America." Anglophonia : Espaces et Terres d’Amérique/Mapping American Spaces. Toulouse : Presses Universitaires du Mirail. N°9. 2006.
- Meillon, Bénédicte. " La Nouvelle en recueil Dans Homeland and Other Stories de Barbara Kingsolver." Champs du Signe.Ed. François-Charles Gaudard. Toulouse : Editions Universitaires du Sud. N° 21, 2006.
- Meillon, Bénédicte. “Translating the ‘Covered Bridges’ in Barbara Kingsolver’s Short Stories.” Palimpsestes : Traduire l’intertextualité. Paris : Presses Universitaires de la Sorbonne. N° 18, juin 2006.
- Meillon, Bénédicte. "L’Implicite dans ‘Stone Dreams’de Barbara Kingsolver." L’Implicite dans la nouvelle de langue anglaise. Ed. Laurent Lepaludier. Rennes : Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2005.
- Meillon, Bénédicte. "La Nouvelle-oxymore dans le recueil Homeland and Other Stories, de Barbara Kingsolver." Champs du Signe. Ed. François-Charles Gaudard. Toulouse : Editions Universitaires du Sud. N° 19, 2004.
- Wagner-Martin, Linda. Barbara Kingsolver (Great Writers Series). Chelsea House Publications (New York), 2004.
- Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. Barbara Kingsolver: A Literary Companion. Jefferson, North Carolina, and London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2004.
- Barbara Kingsolver. Foreword David King Dunaway. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers “Great Writers,” 2004.
- Wenz, Peter S. "Leopold's Novel: The Land Ethic in Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer." Ethics & The Environment, 8(2), 2003.
- Wagner-Martin, Linda. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible: A Reader’s Guide. New York, London: Continuum Contemporaries, 2001.
- Meillon, Bénédicte. [Interview]. Journal of the Short Story in English. Presses Universitaires d’Angers. N° 41, Numéro Spécial : 20e anniversaire du JSSE, automne 2003.
- DeMarr, Mary Jean. Barbara Kingsolver: A Critical Companion. Westport, Ct: Greenwood, 1999.
- Fleischner, Jennifer. Ed. A Reader’s Guide to the Fiction of Barbara Kingsolver: The Bean Trees, Homeland and Other Stories, Animal Dreams, Pigs in Heaven. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.
Theses and Dissertations About Barbara Kingsolver’s Writing
Meillon, Bénédicte et Andrée-Marie Harmat (Supervisor). La Nouvelle-oxymore de Barbara Kingsolver : La Révélation des écritures et l'écriture des révélations. PhD thesis defended at the University of Toulouse, France. Atelier National de Reproduction des Thèses : Lille, 2005. Ref. ANRT: 52010.
Magee, Richard Michael. “Sentimental Ecology: Susan Fenimore Cooper and a New Model of Ecocriticism.” Diss. Fordham U, 2002. Dissertation Abstracts International. Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences. 63 (8). Feb. 2003: 2873.
- Martìnez Alonso, Marìa Luisa. “The Racial Problem in the Literary Work of Barbara Kingsolver.” Diss. U. de Valladolid, 2002. Dissertation Abstracts International. Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences. 63 (8). Feb. 2003: 2873-74.
- Schaub, Joseph Henry, Jr. “Regional Borderlands: Contemporary Southern Authors Go West.” Diss. U. of South Carolina, 2001. Dissertation Abstracts International. Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences. 62 (12). June 2002.
- Meillon, Bénédicte. “Feminine Voices and Characters in The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver.” Masters Diss. Université de Toulouse-le-Mirail, 1999.
- Moser, Teri. “ Silence of the Dispossessed: Restoring ‘Voice’ to the ‘Other’ in Selected Twentieth Century Novels.” Diss. Arizona State University, 1999. Dissertation Abstracts International. Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol. 60 n°11. May, 2000: 4013.
- Godfrey, Kathleen. “Visions and Re/Visions of the Native Americans. Diss. Arizona State U., 1998. Dissertation Abstracts International. Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol. 59 n°3. Sept. 1998: 821-22.
- Phillips, Rebecca S. “The Emerging Female Hero in the Fiction of Alice Walker, Ntozake Shange, Ursula Le Guin, and Barbara Kingsolver.” Diss. West Virginia U., 1998. Dissertation Abstracts International. Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol. 60 n°6. Dec. 1999: 2029-30.
- Bruyand, Lucille. “Gender, Origins and Culture in Barbara Kingsolver’s Vision of America.” Diss. Université de Paris 10-Nanterre, 1997.
- Casciato, Nancy Anne. “The Best of All Impossible Worlds: Towards a Feminist Poetics of Utopia.” Diss. U. of Oregon, 1996. Dissertation Abstracts International. Vol; 57, n°4. Oct. 1996: 1615A-16A.
- Fales, Valerie R. “How Do Stories Speak to Us about Who We Are? Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees, and Pigs in Heaven.” Diss. John Carroll University, 1996.
- Kang, Yong-Ki. “Poststructuralist Environmentalism and Beyond: Eco-Consciousness in Snyder, Kingsolver and Momaday.” Diss. Indiana U, Pennsylvania, 1996. Dissertation Abstracts International. Vol. 57 n°4. Oct. 1996: 1618A-19A.
- Watts, Connie Sue. “Ecofeminist Themes in the Fiction of Barbara Kingsolver.” Diss. Arizona State University, 1994.
- McDowell, Elizabeth. “Power and Environmentalism in Recent Writings by Barbara Kingsolver, Ursula K. Le Guin, Alice Walker, and Terry Tempest Williams.” Diss. University of Oregon, 1992.
- Phares, Karen Griffee. “Relationships in the Fiction of Barbara Kingsolver.” Diss. Arizona State University, 1991.
Reference books with Barbara Kingsolver entries
- Columbia Encyclopedia.
- Contemporary Authors Online. Database. Gale, 2002.
- American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies. Ed. Jay Parini. Vol. 7. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2001.
- Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of American Writers. Eds. Francesca M. Forrest, Jocelyn White Franklin, Kathleen Kuiper, and Mark A. Stevens. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2001.
- Who’s Who in America. Chicago: Marquis Who’s Who. 1994 ed. 55th Edition. New Prudence, New Jersey: Marquis Who’s Who, 2000.
- Woods, Gioia. Dictionary of Literary Biography: 20th Century American Western Novelists. Vol. 206. Ed. Richard H. Cracroft. Detroit, Washington D.C. London: The Gale Group, 1999.
- Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series. Eds. Daniel Jones and John D. Jorgenson. Vol. 60. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998.
- Bear, Perry. Contemporary Southern Writers. Ed. Matuz, Roger. St. James Press; 1998.
- Quick, Susan Chamberlain. “Barbara Kingsolver: A Voice of the Southwest – An Annotated Bibliography.” Bulletin of Bibliography, Vol. 54. n°4. Westport, CT: Greenwood. 1997.
- Cyclopedia of World Authors. Ed. Frank N. Magill. 1958. Pasadena, Ca: Salem Press, 1997. Revised third edition. Vol. 3.
- World Authors 1985-1990.Ed. Vineta Colby. New York; Dublin: H.W. Wilson Co., 1995.
- Current Biography Yearbook 1994. Ed. Judith Graham. Vol. 55 n°7. H.W. Wilson Co., July 1994.
- Contemporary Authors. Ed. Susan M. Trostky. Vol. 134. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1992.
- Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed.Roger Matuz. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1988. Vol.55: 64-68, vol.81.
Photo by Seth Kantner
1Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955 and grew up in rural Kentucky. Her college education in Indiana and Arizona developed her interests as a scientist. She mostly studied ecology and biology, in which she received her Masters of Science degree, while simultaneously taking creative writing classes. She gradually became a full-time fiction writer after having covered a broad range of professions, including copy editor, housecleaner, X-ray technician, archaeologist, biological researcher and translator of medical documents, and scientific journalist. She has lived in the Congo and the Caribbean in her childhood, and later in France and Greece. These experiences abroad together with her Cherokee origins have paved the way for her deep involvement in politics. Barbara Kingsolver claims to be a “political artist”, which shows through her highly multicultural writing and the historical background that permeates her fiction. She now lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband and two daughters, and they spend a lot of time as a family on a farm in Southern Appalachia. Her writing includes one collection of poems, a non-fictional account of women’s role in the Arizona mine strike of 1983, three books of essays, one collection of short stories and five novels. Both her scientific vision of the world and a syncretic form of mysticism underlie all her writings, expressing concern for how we create stories about who we are as individuals, as members of a community, and as part of the cosmos.
Bénédicte MEILLON: Why write only one collection of short stories and so many more novels?
Barbara KINGSOLVER: I guess the answer to that question is that I am long-winded, maybe. Because several times I have begun short stories that turned into novels. It’s very hard for me to be succinct. I can write a short essay, but with fiction I love a broader canvas, I love to take on very large subjects. I think it may have to do with the fact that my work is driven by theme. My point of origin is theme, rather than character or plot, and short stories are plot-driven. I very rarely begin with a plot in mind. I begin with a theme in mind and then I begin constructing the plot to service the theme, to carry the theme, and that method doesn’t lend itself very well to short stories, unless I begin with a very miniscule theme. It happens sometimes that I’ll just think of a perfect little plot that makes a fine short story, and I have written a lot of short stories since Homeland. That collection was the accumulation of probably close to ten years of writing short stories. And early in my career, I wrote short stories a lot. Before my official career, early on, when I was beginning to think about myself as a writer, I tended to write a lot of short stories because it was less intimidating. It’s a good place to begin, as a writer, and it’s also a good place to learn. You can try a lot of different points of view, a lot of different voices, a lot of different settings without investing so much. I have continued to write short stories and I have an accumulation. I have maybe half a collection now. I thought that Prodigal Summer was going to be a collection of short stories, but three stories took over, and then they started interacting, and then the next thing I knew they were a novel!
B.M.: So what would the composition differences be? Are there elements that belong to the short story and not to the novel?
B.K.: Well, to generalize, I think a short story is driven by plot and a novel is driven by character. A short story doesn’t really give you room for a full characterization, whereas a novel requires a great deal of characterization, to sustain your interest and to compel you through the entire story. So I would say that they have reverse importance. In a short story, plot is more important than character, and in a novel the reverse, although everything has to be there but it’s a question of what is primary.
B.M.: And although also the modern – or contemporary – short story tends to be without a plot?
B.K.: True. That’s true. They appear plotless. I would say that in the case of the… oh, what is it called that school of… Now I can’t think of it in English! … The Bobby Ann Mason and Raymond Carver school of… of… I’ll think of it later. Anyway, there’s a style of short story that came to prominence in the 80’s, I think. It was sort of like post-modern realism and kind of the K-Mart short story. Those appear to be plotless, but I would say they are incident-driven. They are about things that happen even though it might not necessarily add up to what we would classically call a plot, with the climax, and dénouement and all that. They’re still driven by incident much more than by character.
B.M.: And do you think that short stories such as “Stone Dreams” or “Jump Up Day” are very accessible to the average reader?
B.K.: “Jump Up Day”… that’s interesting you should choose that one. I guess I’m tempted to ask you why that’s less accessible.
B.M.: Because of magic realism. And because I’m not sure the average reader would know what to make of such a story.
B. K.: Oh? Maybe, although it didn’t strike me that way. I built it the same way I always build… I tend to build short stories the way I build novels. I work a lot on the architecture of the plot and the characterization, so for me the symbols were all in place, the plot is all in place. But it’s true it does require perhaps a larger suspension of disbelief than something more sort of… quotidian.
B.M.: And maybe a lot more analysis too?
B.K.: Maybe, yes. Yes, I think people read short stories in very different ways. I think a lot of people just read it page by page and then when they’re finished, they’re finished. And then they say oh, O. K. that was nice.
B.M.: And how do you feel about people reading your short stories like this?
B.K.: I can’t do that. I always want to understand what I’ve just read, and that’s why I’m very picky about short stories. I really dislike most short stories that I read, most short stories that are published I find very unsatisfying. I think there is a kind of prototype of what I call TheNew-Yorker story, that isn’t really going anywhere. And I just look and look for the last page that’s not there and that will sort of wrap it up and mean something. I like fiction to mean something. Well, anyone would guess that, because of what I write. But every reader’s different, obviously. Obviously a lot of people like that sort of story.
B.M.: So how far would the ideal reader interpret the stories for you?
B.K.: Oh I could never say that. I don’t think there is an ideal reader – except the one who writes me to say, “I’ve read The Poisonwood Bible four times!” That’s of course the ideal reader, someone who really pays such close attention they get everything, they get every symbol, they get every nuance, they don’t miss anything. But, I don’t write only for the people who are going to read my books four times. Good heavens! I couldn’t, because there aren’t so many readers with that much energy. I don’t want to place so much expectation on the reader. I’m just happy for any reader to derive what they will. If someone wants to read just for entertainment, I hope that I can entertain them. I have a commitment to accessibility, I think partly because of where I came from as a person. I came from a class of people who were not readers of literature, who read newspapers maybe, or… the Sears Catalogue, but who never read great novels. And I think about those people when I’m writing, I want them to be able to read my novels and to take whatever they want from the story. I really insist that there is no wrong way to read my books. I mean, I’ve said that a lot before – except holding a book upside down, that’s really a wrong way!
B.M.: When you wrote “Fault Lines” and “Secret Animals” –
B.K.: Ah, O.K. You’ve found those…
B.M.: Why write two sequels? Why write two sequels and not two new short stories with new characters in them?
B.K.: Why not? I had reread Homeland, and I was thinking about those characters, and it just crossed my mind as a sort of artistic challenge, to imagine all those different characters in that whole strange collection of… situations, to move them ten years forward and to see where they were. I like to do that, even though I always insist I won’t write a sequel to a novel, mainly because so many people ask for it, and, that’s not a reason to say “No,” but I have to say it because people ask. It doesn’t interest me to invest so much time – the years it takes to write a novel – in doing something that I’ve already done. But a short story’s different. If you take a set of characters and move them ten years forward in time, you have a whole new short story. And it’s only going to take a few days, or at most a few weeks to write the story. It’s not like giving my life back to Turtle or something. So I guess I did it just for fun, and to see where it would lead. And I even had this idea that I might do an entire collection of Homeland stories ten years later. I still might, I’ve considered it. It’s not out of the question.
B.M.: I personally felt that these two stories were almost trying to make more explicit what was already implicit in the first two.
B.K.: That’s interesting… that’s very interesting. I didn’t necessarily think that. I thought that they were about different questions. But you know, if that’s your interpretation, you’re welcome to it!
B.M.: What would the vocation of the short story be, in post-modern society?
B.K.: Vocation? Oh, that’s a hard question! What’s the vocation of literature in general? I think in general it’s to take the people out of their own lives and to create empathy and to expand the imagination, to inform, to amuse, to disturb in certain ways that people need to be disturbed. There are certain things on that list the novel does better. A novel does a much better job, I think, in taking people out of their lives because you have time to go deeper into it. You really become engaged with these characters and you start thinking about them. When you have to put the book down and go to work, you still think about them; and I’m convinced that that’s the reason why novels are much more popular than short stories. I think people want to leave their lives when they read. It’s a little vacation somehow from the cares of your day. So maybe a short story doesn’t do that so well. But it can certainly do a lot of the other things on that list. It can inform, it can amuse, it can stretch your imagination, and in some ways, I think a short story can be more experimental. I think that there’s a reason why some of the most imaginative creations in literature – such as Kafka’s Metamorphosis – are short. No one could follow that cockroach for a whole year! Right? But because of the brevity you can take people farther, in some ways.
B.M.: Yes, and you probably don’t really leave these characters either, especially when they’re open-ended.
B.M.: Most of your short stories are pretty open-ended.
B.K.: I think most short stories are open… I mean very few short stories kill everybody at the end, and say, “The End.” So that’s true too, maybe it’s something you carry with you. I always feel when I’m writing – I’ve never really analyzed this or even said it aloud – but when I’m writing, I feel like a perfect short story is like a perfect song. You know, the song you hear on the radio that just makes you want to sing along. It just says something perfectly, and the melody is just exactly right, and it ends, and you say, “Bravo!” That’s what I aspire to in a short story: just that piece of music that will be very satisfying somehow.
B.M.: And how would you compare the short story with myth?
B.K.: Well… you might think that a short is related to a fable, or a myth. But in our tradition, in our Western tradition, they’re really not. If you read Native American myths, or Aesop’s fables – I guess Aesop’s fables come a little closer – they have a plot and they have a climax and someone changes, someone learns his lesson. So I suppose there is some similarity, except that it lacks art. A fable lacks the craft and the beauty of artifice that shields the most obvious aspects of the moral of the story. It doesn’t bang you over the head with the moral of the story. It suggests to you that you find your own moral. But the myths that I read from aboriginal cultures – and I’ve read a lot of them because of the kind of writing I do, I’m really interested in mythology – and they don’t generally resemble Aesop’s fables or the modern short story at all. Usually no one learns any lesson. Someone gets away with murder and they don’t really teach. African stories are that way and Native American stories are that way. Nobody learns a lesson. And it leaves you sort of befuddled if you’ve grown up cutting your teeth on Aesop’s fables. You want this tidy morality, and they don’t offer it. They tend to be much more open-ended. They tend to explain what is, more than they tell you what should be, I guess, in terms of how people behave. That’s my impression. They tend to create some imaginary scenario explaining why the sun rises and sets the way it does. Or how the world began, and how everything got here on the back of a turtle. And they’re also often tales of extraordinary bravery or tales of extraordinary treachery or cowardice, or something that, I guess, sort of makes us look at ourselves, helps us look at ourselves, helps us laugh at ourselves. And so, a short story can do those things also. But I’m not convinced that the modern short story has its roots in either place. I don’t really know. You would know more than that, you’re the scholar!
B.M.: And do you think eventually the short story could replace what the myth used to do for people, its function?
B.K.: I think novels are more likely to do that. I really do. I think people look more to novels for the weight of… Mythology has weight. Mythology tells the big stories. Whether it does it well or poorly, it tells you how we got here and why the sun rises. I think we’re asking different questions now, because science has really replaced mythology for the empirical questions. Now we tend to be asking more questions about the world created by humans, and relationships between people, relationships between people and our place, or our work, or our bosses, or our children. And I think novels provide these answers for us.
B.M.: How far do you intentionally include a mythic dimension to your short stories?
B.K.: Oh! I include everything. That’s why it’s so hard for me to write short stories. I just keep wanting to throw more stuff in, it’s hard for me to rein myself in!
B.M.: Are you familiar with Chaos theories?
B.K.: Chaos theory, yes.
B.M.: Is that part of “Stone Dreams” at all?
B.K.: Well, it’s interesting, because I was thinking a lot about… let me think. See, I haven’t read “Stone Dreams” for… ten years.
B.M.: It’s beautiful.
B.K.: Oh! Thank you, you like it?
B.M.: I love it.
B.K.: Let me think about it… let me remember it. “Stone Dreams” is the story in which… a woman sort of runs away with her daughter and… with her lover, and…
B.M.: With her lover, and it’s implied in the end that she’s decided to leave both, her lover and her husband.
B.K.: Yes, and her husband. And what was the last line? Something like, “You and me, that’s enough.” Her daughter…
B.M.: “When it was over [the crashing of the petrified forest], there would be only Julie and me left standing in the desert, not looking back.” And there was this whole parallel with – I think – Lot’s wife… You know it’s this story where she goes to the Petrified Forest and “they looked like… it reminded me of this Biblical disaster era” “a bunch of toppled-over women, etc.”
B.K.: Right. And she’s really coming to terms with the reality of what… She’s trying to use another man for escape and she understands that she’s just going to be Lot’s wife if she does. That the only way to do it is just on her own with her daughter. Yes, and her daughter had tucked the note in her pocket and she finds it in a really inopportune moment.
B.M.: Yes, You remember?
B.K.: O.K. Now I do remember. Yes. You see when I was in graduate school in evolutionary biology, that’s when I really read a lot about Chaos theory. And so, there may have been some of that on my mind. I was certainly familiar with it. It’s hard to answer a question like that so long after the fact because I don’t remember exactly what was in my mind when I was writing it. There’s always an imprint. I think everything I’ve ever known, everything I’ve ever read – including the Bible, including Chaos theories – leaves its imprint on my work. Some of it is probably subconscious but once it’s pointed out I say “Oh yes, that’s there.” It’s funny that – I mean, this is a little digression but – a lot of people said, after ThePoisonwood Bible was published, “Oh! Was this a sort of revisiting of Little Women?” because there were four daughters. And I had to think about it because, of course, I didn’t intend that. I wasn’t thinking “Oh I’ll set out to do – what do you call it – a revisitive Little Women. I didn’t start out that way. If I was going to rewrite anything…
B.M.: Why in the Congo then?
B.K.: …it would have been Heart of Darkness, right, exactly. Why snakes, you know, why… that? And besides every dynamic is different. You know, they loved their daddy they loved their mommy. He was away at the war being good, being virtuous. None of it matched but I thought “Well Little Women was my favourite, favourite novel when I was in fourth grade and I adored it and I still think about Jo March sometimes.” So it was in there. So it may have had some influence on the creation of a blonde prissy daughter and the tomboy daughter! But, you know, everything… everything you read informs everything you write in some way, if you have a good memory.
B.M.: Right. Although in a case such as “Stone Dreams” you actually quote and integrate into your short story Robert Southey –
B.K.: Oh yes, that’s right.
B.M.: Nietzsche, Jung, Freud…
B.K.: Right, that’s right.
B.M.: All these are quoted, so there seems to –
B.K.: Yes, so it was more conscious. Yes.
B.M.: And there seems to be some dialogic play between the literature of other authors and your own short story in the making sense of what’s going on for the characters.
B.K.: Yes, exactly. Yes. I’m sure I was reading all those things at the time. That’s probably why, although sometimes my writing does direct my reading. When I’m creating a certain character then I’ll go and find books that he would be reading, and I’ll sort of use that to inform the conversation.
B.M.: With Adah in The Poisonwood Bible, for example, did you read a lot of psychoanalytical –
B.K.: I read psychology, I read a lot of medical literature about that particular kind of brain damage and case histories of people who have that sort of brain damage, so that I can understand how that kind of mind would work.
B.M.: Right, and in reality such a mind could have been just suffering from such psychosomatic disease?
B.K.: Well, in my imaginary world, it did. Such things can happen, I read enough to convince myself it could happen, it could be possible. It can be possible that development can be arrested in a certain way. And this whole sort of crawling rehabilitation is something my… I have a relative who’s involved in that and he talked to me a lot about it, and he told me how he would work and how he would do it. And that’s something sort of new. So I’m not sure it existed at the time Adah would have encountered it. Maybe it did, I must have looked that up. I try really hard to avoid anachronisms. That was the hardest thing about The Poisonwood Bible!
B.M.: Are you not afraid that sometimes the very accessible aspects of your novels will make you an “auteur grand public”? You know… somehow implying –
B.K.: Yes, commercial rather than literary.
B.M.: Yes, yes, exactly.
B.K.: I don’t worry about that. It seems silly to me to worry about that. I just make sure that I work very hard on the craft, and make certain that it is literature, that every book I write is a novel that you could read four times, and still glean more from each time. Commercial fiction you would never read twice. Nobody would read a mystery twice because you read it to find out what happens, so once you know what happens you’re done. I know that… well, I try to construct compelling plots. They aren’t that simple. You don’t read to find out what happens, you read – I hope – because you want to be there, because it’s a place you enjoy going and visiting, and characters that you like to listen to and you want to understand. So as long as I make certain that the literary quality is in place, it doesn’t bother me at all that lots of people want to read my book. On the contrary, it’s just the opposite. I’m amazed and very pleased that my work is popular. I know that there are some writers – artists of all types – who say, “Well if you’re that popular you can’t really be good”, but I think that’s sour grapes! To refer to a myth, to a fable. I think that’s ridiculous. I would never aspire to obscurity. That goes against everything I believe in. Plus it’s a waste of paper, a waste of good trees!
B.M.: So, to go back to what you were saying, would you say that your short stories are more literary than your novels are?
B.K.: Probably. I think other people would say that, perhaps because they’re less accessible.
B.M.: Right, right…
B.K.: If less accessible means more literary, then, yes. I don’t think they are in terms of what I put into them. I don’t tend to think of them that way, but they’re certainly… well, they’re perhaps more obscure. It takes more effort to understand them, let’s put it that way. But that’s how short stories are. When you tell your publisher you’ve got a book of short stories, they say, “Oh, really? That’s nice.” But they don’t jump up and down and say, “Hurray!” because they know it’s not going to be a bestseller. Short stories don’t – at least in the U.S., I don’t know how it is here… A lot of people write them, but not a lot of people read them. You know it’s sort of… the literary community writes them for each other. I think a very large reason for it in the United States is the prevalence of Master of Fine Arts programs. There are a lot of these programs where people who want to be writers go, and they spend two or three years getting their degree. What they do during that time is write short stories, and ideally they publish those short stories. So there are all of these literary magazines. In a certain way it’s a supply-and-demand thing. There’s this industry for producing short stories so there has to be a market for publishing them. And then other M.F.A students read them. It’s artificial in a certain way because once those students graduate, they don’t go on writing short stories. If they’re going to make a living as a writer they write novels. And otherwise they get a job as a professor or a chef or something… something else! But nobody except Raymond Carver ever made a living of writing short stories, I would guess. It’s about like poetry. It’s not lucrative. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it should be this way, but it is. Nobody in America makes a living as a poet, by writing poetry. You might supplement your income as a professor of poetry by going out and giving poetry readings, but that’s a different thing. That’s performance; it’s not just writing. Nobody sits in a studio and sells enough poems to pay the rent. Because Americans don’t buy poems because they don’t want to read them. Not enough Americans, anyway. And I don’t know why because we’re famous for having a short attention span!
B.M.: But maybe that’s it too, maybe it’s not that much a question of short attention span when you’re reading poetry and a short story –
B.K.: It takes a lot of work. It’s hard to understand.
B.M.: It takes a lot of work. So if you’re looking for entertainment – and easy entertainment –
B.K.: It’s much farther from TV, that’s right. You have to do a lot of the work; that’s absolutely true. I just want to ask you now, did you see that I edited The Best American Short-Stories?
B.K.: Oh, O.K. This was last year. It came out this year but it was 2001. So that involved reading hundreds of short stories and then collect… You know about The Best American Short Stories?
B.M.: I read your essay in Small Wonder, “What Good is a Story” and was that –
B.K.: That was adapted from the introduction that I wrote to The Best American Short Stories.
B.M.: Oh, all right.
B.K.: And that was interesting because it had been a long time since I just really devoted myself to reading short stories, so for a period of my life I just read short stories and it was interesting. It really helped me define for myself what makes a good short story. I think that’s something I changed in the essay. I made it less specifically about short stories. But the introduction to the book was just specifically what I think about the short story… what makes a good short story, and why it works when it does. And, boy! I read so many stories I just didn’t care for, that didn’t move me! The great majority of them, which had been of course pre-selected by the series editor – she had to read, theoretically, every short story published in North America in the whole year, and then she winnowed that down to a few hundred. And then I read all of those and for most of them, when I finished I was just exactly the same person as when I started. Even though I did try to extract what the author wanted to give me. But my conclusion was in a lot of cases that the author himself didn’t know what he wanted to give me. And… well, that’s just lazy!
B.M.: You wrote in that essay that what really made a good short story – which I totally agree with – is the way it will bring you to a new truth, or make you see a truth that you probably already saw, but not exactly –
B.K.: In a new way.
B.M.: Yes, in a new way.
B.K.: Yes, it gives you something…it leaves you a something in your hand.
B.M: And don’t you think the novel is much more didactic about this in that it can lead the reader on to understanding much more what new truth or what new angle?
B.M.: It can do a lot. It can explore a lot more new truths. I think it does ultimately the same thing. It should wash you up on a different shore when you’ve finished. But a short story just has time to give you one little thing, just one, really. When I teach M.F.A students, – they’re writing short stories – what I’m always telling them is, “First of all, please, figure out what it is you want to tell me in the short story. And second of all, if it’s five things, pick one, and throw out the rest,” because it won’t succeed if it tries to do five different truths, some of which might be contrary to each other! So yes, I think of this little gem. A story can give you a gem whereas a novel can lead you through a wilderness and show you many different aspects of the wilderness and make it known to you, help you understand it so it doesn’t frighten you. It has time to do all that.
B.M.: And also sometimes the characters voice their own explanations, of how to reread the Bible, for example –
B.K.: Exactly. Whereas a short story could never do that, it would just be too obvious. Yes. You don’t have time to… in a novel you can lay down all this material in which you can leave direct themes, and it doesn’t seem so conspicuous.
B.M.: In French I speak of “la nouvelle-oxymore” to speak of your short stories, because I compare your short stories to oxymora. Does that make any sense to you?
B.K.: Well, it does…I suppose I deserve it because my titles are so often oxymora – deliberate oxymora – or if not oxymora, at least they create cognitive dissonance. I think that’s how I prefer to think of it. If I’m not outright contradicting myself I’m at least attempting to create some cognitive dissonance in a title. I do it specifically because I think it will catch your attention.
B.K.: And it just grates a little bit so it’s not so forgettable. Although people invariably get my titles mixed up because they have that cognitive dissonance. Just like my name, people try to make it into something that makes sense, so they always say “Kingslover” because it makes more sense to love a king than to solve one. And I mean, not because of that, but it’s the same kind of thing. My titles are combinations of words that don’t quite make sense together and so they’re troubling a little bit. And they also lead you into the same troubling dissonance within the short story. Yes and I guess my short story titles are the same: “Stone Dreams”, doesn’t make sense. A dream is filmy and the stone is hard. The title “Homeland” I really don’t like. It’s the only title of all my books that I didn’t choose. The title story I chose. That story that’s called “Homeland” in this collection is the one I wanted to be the title story, but when I wrote it, I called it “The Waterbug’s Children” which is disturbing. It’s a Kingsolver title.
B.K.: Yes. But I was a new author at the time, I didn’t have any power and when I submitted the manuscript they said “Pfff! This won’t work! People hate bugs and they don’t like children! So you just have to make a new title,” and they suggested to call this “Homeland.” But I don’t like it. It says nothing. Well, I don’t hate it, but to me it’s disagreeably mild. It does say something, and I conceded to use it because it does sort of tie the collection together. I think it does work as a title because what seems to connect all the stories is that all these people are trying to find their place… They’re trying to find a place for themselves within a context of upheaval. So it’s an O.K. title, but it’s not my title, and I’ve never really liked it. I wish in the translation it could have a different title! But I don’t know how that goes…
B.M.: I’m trying to think…because this one translation was already done by Guillemette Belleteste.
B.K.: Oh, really?
B.M.: She has as a matter of fact translated “Homeland” and “Jump Up Day.”
B.K.: Oh! She has? Those two stories?
B.M.: Yes, which are my favourite, I think, with “Stone Dreams” and –
B.K.: Oh! Well, oh thank you, they’re my favourites too.
B.M.: …and “Blueprints,” maybe.
B.K.: “Blueprints,” yes.
B.M.: Did you have Baudelaire in mind when you wrote “Stone Dreams”? For the title?
B.M.: Because it is the beginning of the first line of “Ode à la Beauté”: “Rêves de pierres”…
B.K.: Oh! No. I can honestly say that was not in my mind.
B.M.: Right. I never thought about it. I was hinted by someone else, “This is Baudelaire,” and I thought, “This is right,” but then I was finding it hard to make sense of this.
B.K.: It doesn’t make sense, right, it doesn’t connect.
B.M.: Only, that I was thinking, “Well, it would be funny because I am also exploring from a discursive-mode point of view how far short stories are short stories. How far they are narratives and not poetry. And it’s very ambiguous where to draw the line between short stories and poetry.
B.K.: It is. Oh, it’s so true.
B.M.: And Baudelaire was this man saying, “I have this dream of ‘petits poèmes en prose,’” which are very close to short stories, again.
B.K.: It’s true. But if you work hard enough you can connect anything!
B.M.: Yes, yes, that’s for sure…