Barbara Kingsolver was many things before she became a writer—archaeological digger, copy editor, house cleaner, classical pianist, biological researcher and translator—and has said, "If we can't, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread." Fortunately for us, she's been able to keep writing. Through her novels, we've come to know the Cherokee nation in The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven, U.S.-backed Contras in Animal Dreams and the political powers of colonial and postcolonial Africa in The Poisonwood Bible—humanizing the fragility of community, economic injustice and our cultural differences. A 2000 Oprah's Book Club selection, The Poisonwood Bible was also short listed for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award.
In 2000, Kingsolver was awarded the National Humanities Medal, and her latest work, Lacuna, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. In addition to her seven fiction novels in print, her nonfiction work Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life was a best-seller. To date, her work has been translated into more than 20 languages.