Yesterday Barbara Kingsolver won the Orange Prize for The Lacuna. When I heard I was mostly ho-hum, so I didn’t rush to post this notice. I know several people like The Lacuna, but in no review have I been able to grab on to something that suggests I might like it too (though I thought Kingsolver did an excellent job with The Poisonwood Bible). People who haven’t enjoyed the book, however: their qualms are the same qualms I would have, and they have pretty much assured me that I wouldn’t like it. They say it is formally ambitious but fails to deliver because the cobbled pieces of media are unconvincing and don’t feel genuine. The writing is flowery and more an attempt to show-off than move the narrative. It consistently tells you the story rather than let you live it. That may lead into the real reason I am sure I wouldn’t like it: they say Kingsolver is editorializing, that The Lacuna is a polemic. I am unpersuaded, so far, by the occasional reviewer who says that the human story rises above the polemic, and I’m just not interested in another novel that tries to tie together so many notable events and people in history (Diego Rivera, Leon Trotsky, HUAC, Nixon) in order to drive home a point about modern society. I liked The Poisonwood Bible — quite a bit, actually — but it had its faults; from what I’ve heard The Lacuna keeps the faults, builds them up, and loses the rest.

That is all just my impressions from the reviews I’ve read. The reviews have left such a strong impression upon me that I don’t think I could force my way into this one.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Mookse and the Gripes on Patreon!
By | 2016-06-10T16:07:20+00:00 June 10th, 2010|Categories: News|6 Comments


  1. KevinfromCanada June 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I’m with you on this one — although I admit that I parted ways with Kingsolver a few books ago. For me, the most interesting thing about The Lacuna is that three readers whom I respect (Colette, Kerry at Hungry Like the Woolf and Kirsty at Other Stories) all abandoned it. That’s all the disincentive that I need.

  2. Lee Monks June 10, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Considering the poor reception this book has had everywhere else, does it potentially discredit the Orange panel? It seems to have been ditched or forgotten in the main. I’m guessing it’s yet another compromise accolade.

  3. Liz June 10, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Well, I must admit, I did start Lacuna and then put it down after a few pages, thinking I would pick it up again if it won the Orange. So, I plan on doing just that…soon. After the announcement yesterday I ran to my library and checked out The Boy Next Door, which won the Orange for best debut novel. The author is Irene Sabatini. So far…I can’t put it down. Perhaps this will redeem the Orange panel for those skeptics out there?

  4. Mary Gilbert June 11, 2010 at 8:28 am

    The writing is only really `flowery’ in the first chapter and I quite enjoyed the descriptions of Mexico. However the novel is far too long to support such a feeble protagonist. Zelig -like he hovers on the edge of encounters with Frieda Kahlo, Trotsky and McCarthy. He’s such a cipher – discreet to the point of invisibility – that it ‘s hard to care. The sections which include the characters of Kahlo and Rivera and Trotsky’s death are more interesting but made me wish I was reading novels about them instead.

  5. Jenifer June 11, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Trevor- just followed you here from shannon hale’s blog. wanted to tell you that i appreciated your comments. i still don’t think ratings would hurt as much as you think they would. but, you made some good points!! thanks.

  6. Trevor June 11, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Thanks for following me, Jenifer :) . It is an interesting discussion.

    Anyone else who is interested in a debate about whether placing content ratings on books can check it out on Shannon Hale’s blog. I’m adamantly against such a thing for a variety of reasons.

Leave a Reply