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The Lacuna: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
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The Lacuna: A Novel (edition 2009)

by Barbara Kingsolver

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3,4802011,525 (3.87)1 / 534
Member:ashbrau
Title:The Lacuna: A Novel
Authors:Barbara Kingsolver
Info:Harper (2009), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 528 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

  1. 90
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (GreenVelvet)
  2. 71
    The Bean Trees, Animal Dreams, Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver (readerbabe1984)
  3. 40
    Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: It is set in Mexico and deals, obliquely and amusingly, with women's rights.
  4. 10
    Any Human Heart by William Boyd (lizchris)
    lizchris: A fictional character who encounters real people from history across their lifetime.
  5. 11
    Sonntagsträumerei in der Alameda by Bodo Uhse (edwinbcn)
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Showing 1-5 of 200 (next | show all)
trying this for a second time...

Couldn't finish it the second time either.
  mara.murdoch | Nov 4, 2014 |
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel, as I did not know how gifted a writer Barbara Kingsolver can be. Yes, I am late to discover her talent! Set half in Mexico and half in the USA, with the main character whose little seen father is American and whose mother is Mexican and always looking for a wealthy man to catch, this novel delves into fascinating history of Mexico and the Mayans, and the USA and Mexico from the 1920s to the 1950s. Taken to Mexico by his mother, Harrison Shepherd is immersed in the culture of Mexico and the Mayans. My favorite chapters deal with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and how Shepherd joins their household as a servant and friend. The Riveras sheltered Leon Trotsky and I learned a lot about Trotsky including how Stalin sent assassins to kill him. I think Kingsolver did excellent research on these artists and captured their personalities well. Shepherd becomes a noted writer, develops a long lasting friendship with his assistant Violet Brown, and unfortunately catches the attention of the dreaded House Unamerican Activities committee. ( )
  hangen | Nov 1, 2014 |
A bit bogged down with politics and history, but still a good read. The first part takes place in Mexico in the 1930s, with vibrant descriptions of the landscape and the lives of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and their houseguest, Leon Trotsky. The second part plays out in 1950s, small-town America, where the reclusive narrator, who happens to be a writer and gay, gains notoriety as an author whose fans turn on him for his political views. It's not surprising that he gets blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee due to his communist connections. Although Kingsolver gets a little preachy by working in the internment of Japanese American, racism, and McCarthyism, she succeeds in prompting us to realize that the spirits of J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy are still very much alive and living in America. ( )
  sushitori | Oct 21, 2014 |
It was a very interesting reading but not so fast-paced I'm used to. It's a kind of a diary about the live of an American-Mexican citizen which describes his life with Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Lev Trotsky with all the busy and turbulent time during communism and how the USA was thinking about it. Also it's a fiction the historical part of thoses events are true. It took me in the maelstrom of the historical facts and therefore I loved the reading also at some times I had the feeling that it was too protacted. ( )
  Ameise1 | Oct 6, 2014 |
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/2326935.html

I very much got into this story of a young American in Mexico who ends up working for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, is present at the murder of Trotsky, moves to the USA (where in fact he has not previously lived) and gets caught in the web of McCarthyism. Lots of good description and acute personal observation. Not quite as gripping as The Poisonwood Bible, but perhaps a bit more circumstantially convincing. ( )
  nwhyte | Jul 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 200 (next | show all)
Kingsolver, at the top of her craft, builds pyramids of language and scenic highways through mountains of facts, while plotting a mostly tight course through the fictional premises that convey her writing’s social conscience. In this book, pacifism, social justice, and free expression are the standards she shoulders.
added by Shortride | editBookforum, Celia McGee (Dec 1, 2009)
 
“The Lacuna” can be enjoyed sheerly for the music of its passages on nature, archaeology, food and friendship; or for its portraits of real and invented people; or for its harmonious choir of voices. But the fuller value of Kingsolver’s novel lies in its call to conscience and connection.
 
Barbara Kingsolver's new novel, "The Lacuna," is the most mature and ambitious one she's written during her celebrated 20-year career, but it's also her most demanding. Spanning three decades, the story comes to us as a collection of diary entries and memoir, punctuated by archivist's notes, newspaper articles, letters, book reviews and congressional transcripts involving some of the 20th century's most radical figures. The sweetness that leavened "The Bean Trees" and "Animal Dreams" has been burned away, and the lurid melodrama that enlivened "The Poisonwood Bible" has been replaced by the cool realism of a narrator who feels permanently alienated from the world.
 
A serious problem with The Lacuna is telegraphed in its striking title. "Lacuna" refers to a gap or something that's absent. The motif of the crucial missing piece runs throughout the novel, but the thing unintentionally missing here is an engaging main character. Our hero, Harrison Shepherd, is an accidental onlooker to history buffeted by other people's plans and passions.
 
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.
added by khuggard | editPublishers Weekly
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
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In the beginning were the howlers.
Quotations
A novel! Why do you say this won't liberate anyone? Where does any man go to be free, whether he is poor or rich or even in prison? To Dostoyevsky! To Gogol!
The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don't know.
Does a man become a revolutionary out of the belief he’s entitled to joy rather than submission?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as they invent their modern identities.

Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional households in Mexico—from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico City—Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.

Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in America's hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs. Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.

With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life, Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself. The Lacuna is a rich and daring work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most provocative and important of her time.
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"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.… (more)

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