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The Resource The lacuna : a novel, by Barbara Kingsolver

The lacuna : a novel, by Barbara Kingsolver

Label
The lacuna : a novel
Title
The lacuna
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
by Barbara Kingsolver
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
"The story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two worlds -- Mexico and the United States in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s -- and whose search for identity takes readers to the heart of the twentieth century's most tumultuous events"--Provided by publisher
Pace
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
  • New York Times Notable Book, 2009
  • Orange Prize for Fiction, 2010.
Review
  • In her first novel in nine years, Kingsolver displays the same ambition she exhibited in her best-selling The Poisonwood Bible (1998). Moving her story between Mexico and the U.S. and covering some 20 years in the life of Harrison William Shepherd, born to a social-climbing Mexican mother and an emotionally distant American father, who eventually divorce, Kingsolver weaves in pointed social commentary on dark moments in the history of both countries. Zelig-like, Shepherd is present at disturbing yet key historical events, including the violent 1933 Bonus March in Washington, D.C. Kicked out of a military academy for a homosexual liaison, Shepherd returns to Mexico; is taken into the household of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and the exiled Leon Trotsky; and witnesses Trotsky’s assassination. He eventually settles in Asheville, North Carolina, becoming well known as an author of historical fiction and coming to the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee for his leftist leanings. Kingsolver packs her novel with rich detail on everything from underwater caves to the proper way to mix the plaster Rivera uses in his murals, relaying information through a pastiche of letters, newspaper excerpts, and diary entries. As a result, the novel can be slow going, but the final section, devoted to the loving if platonic relationship between Shepherd and his dedicated stenographer, builds to a stunningly moving coda, conveying the tender emotions between two outsiders who have created their own sanctuary in the face of a hostile mainstream culture. -- Wilkinson, Joanne (Reviewed 09-15-2009) (Booklist, vol 106, number 2, p5)
  • /* Starred Review */ Kingsolver's ambitious new novel, her first in nine years (after the The Poisonwood Bible ), focuses on Harrison William Shepherd, the product of a divorced American father and a Mexican mother. After getting kicked out of his American military academy, Harrison spends his formative years in Mexico in the 1930s in the household of Diego Rivera; his wife, Frida Kahlo; and their houseguest, Leon Trotsky, who is hiding from Soviet assassins. After Trotsky is assassinated, Harrison returns to the U.S., settling down in Asheville, N.C., where he becomes an author of historical potboilers (e.g., Vassals of Majesty ) and is later investigated as a possible subversive. Narrated in the form of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings, the novel takes a while to get going, but once it does, it achieves a rare dramatic power that reaches its emotional peak when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee (on the panel is a young Dick Nixon). “Employed by the American imagination,” is how one character describes Harrison, a term that could apply equally to Kingsolver as she masterfully resurrects a dark period in American history with the assured hand of a true literary artist. (Nov.) --Staff (Reviewed August 17, 2009) (Publishers Weekly, vol 256, issue 33, p1)
  • Diego Rivera's mural in Mexico's Palacio Nationale was only half complete the day young Harrison Shepherd stood transfixed before it, but he would be forever captive to the extraordinary power of the imagination. A solitary child, a devourer of books, left to his own devices by a mother chasing unattainable men and a father pencil pushing for the government back in the States, Harrison observes and he writes. When a quirk of fate lands him in the home of Communist sympathizers Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Rivera's wife, Harrison becomes enmeshed in the turbulent history that will inform his life and work. Through the distinctive voices of Harrison and his insightful amanuensis, Violet Brown, Kingsolver paints a verbal panorama spanning three decades and two countries. World War I veterans protesting for benefits denied, the unleashing of the atomic bomb, the McCarthy hearings, censorship of the arts, and abuse by the press corps lend credence to the sentiment that the more things change, the more they remain the same. VERDICT As in The Poisonwood Bible , Kingsolver perfects the use of multiple points of view, even reprinting actual newspaper articles to blur the line between fact and fiction. This is her most ambitious, timely, and powerful novel yet. Well worth the wait.—Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Myers, FL --Sally Bissell (Reviewed October 15, 2009) (Library Journal, vol 134, issue 17, p67)
  • Unapologetically political metafiction from Kingsolver (Prodigal Summer, 2000, etc.) about the small mistakes or gaps (lacunas) that change history. Set in leftist Mexico in the 1930s and the United States in the '40s and '50s, the novel is a compilation of diary entries, newspaper clippings (real and fictional), snippets of memoirs, letters and archivist's commentary, all concerning Harrison Shepherd. In 1929, Harrison's Mexican-born mother deserts his American father, a government bureaucrat, and drags 11-year-old Harrison back to Mexico to live with her rich lover on a remote island. There Harrison discovers his first lacuna, an underwater cave that leads to a secret pool. As his mother moves from man to man, Harrison learns to fend for himself. His disastrous two-year stint at boarding school back in America is marked by his awakening homosexuality (left vague thanks to the lacuna of a missing diary) and his witnessing of the Hoover administration's violent reaction to a riot of World War I homeless vets. In 1935, Harrison returns to Mexico, where he becomes first a lowly but beloved member of the Diego Rivera/Frida Kahlo household, then secretary to Leon Trotsky until Trotsky's assassination. Kingsolver is at her best in the pages brimming with the seductive energy of '30s Mexico: its colors, tastes, smells, the high drama of Trotsky and Kahlo, but also the ordinary lives of peasants and the working poor. When Harrison returns to the States, however, the novel wilts. His character never evolves, and the dialogue grows increasingly polemic as his story becomes a case study of the postwar anticommunist witch-hunt. Harrison moves to Asheville, N.C., writes fabulously popular novels about ancient Mexico, hires as his secretary a widow whom the reader knows already as his archivist, and is then hounded out of the country by the House Un-American Activities Committee, with fateful results.A richly satisfying portrait of Mexico gives way to a preachy, padded and predictable chronicle of Red Scare America. (Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2009)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
329994
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Kingsolver, Barbara
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Subversive activities
  • Identity (Psychology)
  • Americans
  • North Carolina
  • Mexico
Label
The lacuna : a novel, by Barbara Kingsolver
Instantiates
Publication
Control code
000044576771
Dimensions
24 cm.
Edition
1st ed.
Extent
507 p.
Isbn
9780571252640
Isbn Type
(pbk)
Label
The lacuna : a novel, by Barbara Kingsolver
Publication
Control code
000044576771
Dimensions
24 cm.
Edition
1st ed.
Extent
507 p.
Isbn
9780571252640
Isbn Type
(pbk)

Library Locations

    • Lionel Bowen Library and Community CentreBorrow it
      669-673 Anzac Parade, Marouba, NSW, 2035, AU
      -33.938111 151.237977
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