Friday, Sep. 04, 2009

The Lacuna

Whereas Foer went from fiction to food, Barbara Kingsolver is going from food (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) back to fiction, with her first novel in nine years. Her publisher is boldly touting The Lacuna as Kingsolver's "most accomplished novel" — a tall order for the author of The Poisonwood Bible. The book's hero is one Harrison William Shepherd, an American who grows up in Mexico (where his mother is from) and who stumbles fortuitously into the household of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, and from there into that of the exiled Leon Trotsky. The novel has the look of a picaresque epic, a risky but sometimes rewarding form — Shepherd will end up back in the U.S., testifying in his own defense before the House Un-American Activities Committee.