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“Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver

Demon Copperhead
by Barbara Kingsolver

Our November 2022 Book of the Month

ABOUT THE BOOK

“Anyone will tell you the born of this world are marked from the get-out, win or lose.”

Demon Copperhead is set in the mountains of southern Appalachia. It’s the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, he braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.

Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Barbara Kingsolver grew up in rural Kentucky and earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona before becoming a freelance writer and author. At various times in life she has lived in England, France, and the Canary Islands, and has worked in Europe, Africa, Asia, Mexico, and South America. She spent two decades in Tucson, Arizona, before moving to southwestern Virginia where she currently resides.

Her fifteen books include short stories, essay collections, poetry, and seven novels. In the first decade of the new millennium, following her well-known work The Poisonwood Bible, she published two novels (prior to this one) and three non-fiction books including Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a narrative of her family’s locavore year that helped launch a modern transition in America’s food culture. Kingsolver’s work has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and has been adopted into the core literature curriculum in high schools and colleges throughout the nation.

Kingsolver was named one the most important writers of the 20th Century by Writers Digest. In 2000 she received the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts. Critical acclaim for her books includes multiple awards from the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association, among many others. The Poisonwood Bible was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Orange Prize, and won the national book award of South Africa, before being named an Oprah Book Club selection. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle won numerous prizes including the James Beard award. The Lacuna won Britain’s prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010, and last year she was awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work.

In 1998, Kingsolver established the Bellwether Prize for fiction, the nation’s largest prize for an unpublished first novel, which has helped to establish the careers of more than a half dozen new literary voices. Through a recent agreement the prize has now become the PEN / Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.

Barbara has two daughters, Camille and Lily. Her husband, Steven Hopp, teaches environmental studies. Since June 2004, Barbara and her family have lived on a farm in southern Appalachia, where they raise an extensive vegetable garden and Icelandic sheep.

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