I’ve been listening to book talks with various authors on NPR this week. This afternoon while I was folding laundry I listened to a podcast from the Diane Rehm Show where Susan Page interviews Barbara Kingsolver about her new novel, The Lacuna. I haven’t read it yet. Maureen Corrigan reviewed it for Fresh Air and was disappointed. I’m still thrilled to hear that she’s come out with another novel, though.
My excitement derives more from overwrought sentiment than anything else, because nearly ten years ago Poisonwood was a life shifter. I realize that sounds pretty sensationalist and corny, and this was even before Oprah picked it for her book club! I was living in Europe at the time and bought the UK version in an English language bookstore in Lyon. This is the cover here. It’s difficult to tell from the image, but her name is written in bright red, and I loved how the red contrasted with the light blues. I would crawl up to the Roman amphitheatre behind my apartment and read for hours. I was mesmerized by Kingsolver’s story, by so much beautiful language, by the characters who were so out of place in their African village — with their Bibles and hymnals and God nonsense — as out of place as I felt as a young twenty-something sitting amidst those vast ancient ruins.
I suppose in the wake of such a reaction any other book would seem disappointing. I won’t expect to love The Lacuna as much as I did Poisonwood. But like Prodigal Summer, I’ll read it anyway.