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Kingsolver writes “The Lacuna” After 9/11 Criticism

51CfSWL432L._SL160_Shortly after the attacks on September 11, 2001, author Barbara Kingsolver published a series of op-ed pieces in several major U.S. newspapers calling for a meaningful national dialog and asking leaders to consider dissenting opinions, and was shocked at the harsh criticism and hate mail she received. “A lot of people were frightened, and when people are frightened, they want to burn witches. They want to run somebody up the flagpole…,” she explains in an interview with The Guardian. “It was really one of the worst times of my life.” A few months later, Kingsolver decided to channel all that fear and anger into something positive and started research on a new project, which would grow to be The Lacuna. “I have to make something of this,” she thought at the time. “I have to take all this bile and hatred and make something beautiful.”

With her recent Orange Prize win for The Lacuna, it looks like the novelist has done just that. The Lacuna follows the life of Harrison Shepherd, born to a Mexican mother and an American father, as he moves between both cultures, witnessing historical events and encountering cultural figures like Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky. As an adult he moves to the U.S. to work as a writer amid the witch-hunts of the McCarthy Era. The Lacuna beat out front-runner Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel for the prize. “We chose The Lacuna because it is a book of breathtaking scale and shattering moments of poignancy,” announced Daisy Goodwin, judges chair, to The Associated Press.

The Orange Prize was created in 1996 to recognize the work of women writers in fiction. Any novel written by a woman in the English language is eligible, and a panel of judges decides the winner. The winner receives a $45,000 (£30,000) cash prize and a limited edition bronze statuette, nicknamed “Bessie”. Kingsolver had previously been shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 1999 for The Poisonwood Bible.

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