Small Wonder: Essays (Paperback)

Small Wonder: Essays By Barbara Kingsolver Cover Image

Small Wonder: Essays (Paperback)

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In twenty-two wonderfully articulate essays, Barbara Kingsolver raises her voice in praise of nature, family, literature, and the joys of everyday life while examining the genesis of war, violence, and poverty in our world

From the author of High Tide in Tucson, comes Small Wonder, a new collection of essays that begins with a parable gleaned from recent news: villagers search for a missing infant boy and find him, unharmed, in the cave of a dangerous bear that has mothered him like one of her own. Clearly, our understanding of evil needs to be revised. What we fear most can save us. From this tale, Barbara Kingsolver goes on to consider the chasm between the privileged and the poor, which she sees as the root cause of violence and war in our time. She writes about her attachment to the land, to nature and wilderness, trees and mountains-the place from which she tells her stories. Whether worrying about the dangers of genetically engineered food crops, or creating opportunities for children to feel useful and competent - like growing food for the family’s table - Kingsolver looks for small wonders, where they grow, and celebrates them.

Barbara Kingsolver was born in 1955 and grew up in rural Kentucky. She earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona, and has worked as a freelance writer and author since 1985. At various times 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 books, in order of publication, are: The Bean Trees (1988), Homeland (1989), Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike (1989), Animal Dreams (1990), Another America (1992), Pigs in Heaven (1993), High Tide in Tucson (1995), The Poisonwood Bible (1998), Prodigal Summer (2000), Small Wonder (2002), Last Stand: America’s Virgin Lands, with photographer Annie Griffiths (2002), Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007), The Lacuna (2009), Flight Behavior (2012), Unsheltered (2018), How To Fly (In 10,000 Easy Lessons) (2020), Demon Copperhead (2022), and coauthored with Lily Kingsolver, Coyote's Wild Home (2023). She served as editor for Best American Short Stories 2001. 


Kingsolver was named one the most important writers of the 20th Century by Writers Digest, and in 2023 won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel Demon Copperhead. In 2000 she received the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages and have been adopted into the core curriculum in high schools and colleges throughout the nation. Critical acclaim for her work includes multiple awards from the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association, a James Beard award, two-time Oprah Book Club selection, and the national book award of South Africa, among others. She was awarded Britain's prestigious Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) for both Demon Copperhead and The Lacuna, making Kingsolver the first author in the history of the prize to win it twice. In 2011, Kingsolver was awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


She has two daughters, Camille (born in 1987) and Lily (1996). She and her husband, Steven Hopp, live on a farm in southern Appalachia where they raise an extensive vegetable garden and Icelandic sheep. 

“Observant, imaginative, and both lucid and impassioned.” — Book Magazine

“This book of essays by Barbara Kingsolver is like a visit from a cherished old friend.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Kingsolver possesses a rare depth of understanding of nature’s complex mechanisms.” — San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

“A delightful, challenging, and wonderfully informative book.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“Essays … [of] great skill and wisdom.” — Booklist