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Homeland Paperback – 10 Jan 2000
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Homeland and Other Stories by Barbara Kingsolver is a collection of short stories on hope, momentary joy and powerful endurance, from the Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of the bestselling books The Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna.
About the Author
Barbara Kingsolver's fourteen books of fiction, poetry and non-fiction include the novels the international bestseller The Poisonwood Bible, which is now considered a modern classic and was chosen as the best reading group novel ever at the Penguin/Orange Awards, and The Lacuna, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010. Her latest novel is Flight Behaviour.
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Top customer reviews
My interest waned when the last part of the book (3 hours at my reading speed) was dragged out, in my opinion, from the the point the family went their separate ways. I wasn't, like some reviewers, bored with the politics, which I found enlightening. What bored me was the detailed introspection, with the exception of Rachel, whom I found amusing, as each character philosophised on life and much more. For me, it was interesting to know what happened to them all but this should have been a short epilogue. Ultimately, because the book was so good for so long, I settled on a four. However, I'd give reservations when recommending it and I don't feel I could face another Kingsolver for quite a long time.
Told from the five points of view of each woman - Nathan's wife Orleanna, 16-year-old Rachel, 14-year-old twins Leah and Adah and five-year-old Ruth May - The Poisonwood Bible has a fairly epic scope, spanning around 30 years, and yet each woman's story is deeply personal. Each narrator has her own distinctive voice, values and vision. The unashamedly selfish Rachel peppers her speech with unintentional malapropisms; her language, like her views on race and politics, is carelessly skewed. Adah, academically gifted but physically disabled by a brain injury at birth and possibly affected by some form of autism, is prone to reading things backwards and obsessed by palindromes and linguistic patterns. Language in general is important in the story: inflections are misunderstood, concepts are untranslatable, and translation becomes symbolic of the vast differences between the Prices' way of life and that of their new Congolese neighbours. Everything the Prices bring from America somehow fails to 'translate' when it reaches Africa, whether it's the powdered cake mix ruined by equatorial humidity, Nathan Price's uncompromising sermons that leave his congregation alienated and confused, or the family's preconceived notions about the Congo and its people.
This is a long and sometimes rambling book, and the further the story progresses, the less deftly the (albeit fascinating) exploration of post-colonial African politics are woven into the narrative, and the particular voices and states of mind of the characters make some chapters a little hard-going in comparison to others. Overall, though, this is a beautifully written and absorbing novel with fascinating characters and I thoroughly enjoyed it.