The Lacuna

by Barbara Kingsolver

by Barbara Kingsolver

Born in the US and reared in a series of provincial households in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd is mostly a liability to his social-climbing mother, Salomé; his fortunes remaining insecure as Salomé finds her rich men-friends always on the losing side of the Mexican Revolution.


Harrison aims for invisibility, observing his world and recording everything in his notebooks with a peculiar selfless irony. Life is what he learns from servants putting him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs on the streets. Then, one day, he ends up mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist, Diego Riviera – which leads to a job in Riviera’s house, where Harrison makes himself useful to the muralist, his wife Frida Kahlo and the exiled Bolshevik leader, Lev Trotsky.


A violent upheaval sends him to the US. In Carolina, he remakes himself in America’s hopeful image and finds an extraordinary use for his talents of observation. But political winds continue to volley him between north and south, in a story that turns many times on the unspeakable breach – the lacuna – between truth and public presumption.


Publisher: Faber

About the author

  • Barbara Kingsolver

    American novelist known for her anti-establishment stance, and the winner of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction, with The Lacuna...

    Barbara Kingsolver was born in Annapolis, Maryland but was raised near Carlisle, Kentucky, 'in the middle of an alfalfa field... between the opulent horse farms and the impoverished coal fields.' Her parents were medical and public-health workers who briefly embarked on an expedition to the Congo when Kingsolver was a child. Kingsolver describes her childhood as a rather solitary one, and used the time she spent by herself to stimulate an 'elaborate life of the mind.'

    Kingsolver attended DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana on a music scholarship, studying classical piano. Eventually, however, she changed her major to biology.In 1986, she won an Arizona Press Club award for outstanding feature writing. Her first novel, The Bean Trees, was published in 1988.

    Her subsequent books include The Poisonwood Bible (1998) and Prodigal Summer (2000); a poetry collection, Another America (1992) and the essay collections High Tide in Tucson (1995) and Small Wonder: Essays (2002). The Poisonwood Bible (1998) was a bestseller that won the National Book Prize of South Africa, made finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner award, and was chosen as an Oprah's Book Club selection. In 2000, Barbara was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Bill Clinton.

    She lives with her husband Steven Hopp and their two daughters, Camille and Lily, on a farm in Southwest Virginia. Her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle describes their first year on the farm and their quest for self-sufficiency.

    Barbara Kingsolver
    Barbara Kingsolver

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