Since Barbara Kingsolver published The Bean Trees in 1988, her work has been of great interest to readers - first, American readers; then British and South African readers; and finally to readers the world over. With incredible speed, Kingsolver became one of the best-known United States writers, a person who collected honors and awards as if she were a much more mature literary producer. From the beginning Kingsolver touched an elbow of keen interest in her readers: hers was the voice of world awareness, a conscientious voice that demanded attention for the narratives of the disadvantaged, the politically troubled, the humanly silenced. By paying special attention to her non-fiction (essays and books), this new study by renowned literary critic Linda Wagner-Martin highlights the way Kingsolver has become a kind of public intellectual, particularly in the twenty-first century. It will provides fresh readings of each of her novels, stories, and poems.
Linda Wagner-Martin is Hanes Professor of English and Comparative Literature, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. Her many books include Sylvia Plath: A Biography (Simon & Schuster 1987) and Sylvia Plath: A Literary Life (Macmillan, second edition 2003).