Barbara Kingsolver’s work demonstrates that peace is not simply a matter of reconciliation and resolution; peace is a delicate self-sustaining condition contingent on mutual dependence among people, nations, cultures, and other living beings. Peace, she tells us, is a fragile web of interconnectedness easily harmed. Her books provide counsel on what happens when even a single filament of that web is damaged.

Kingsolver is not only a prolific writer of fiction, she is also a biologist who has addressed the natural world with the same personal commitment and literary excellence that she has given her narrative work. She has published 14 books and hundreds of articles and contributions to anthologies, including several scientific works; she began her writing career in 1977.

A significant voice in arts and letters as well as ecology, Kingsolver’s work has earned her 25 national and international awards, including the National Humanities Medal. The Poisonwood Bible was a finalist for both the Orange Prize for Fiction, and The Pulitzer Prize. Other work has earned the American Booksellers Book of the Year, the PEN / Faulkner Award, The James Beard Award, The National Book Prize of South Africa, the Edward Abbey EcoFiction Award, The Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the United National National Council of Women citation of accomplishment.

This year, her work earned the Duke Leaf Award for lifetime environmental achievement in the fine arts.

From The Bean Trees, and Homeland, published in 1988 and 1989, through her most recent novel, The Lacuna, Kingsolver has been writing about the complex relationships we develop, live with, and daily negotiate, transforming them into experiences that are simultaneously ordinary and significant.

A native of Kentucky, she has explored the hope, balance, and intricacy of human and environmental interactions that extend from Appalachia to The Congo, from the simplest ways to grow, gather, and prepare food to the complex biosocial outcomes of contemporary life today

In 1998, Ms. Kingsolver established the Bellweather Prize for fiction, a $25,000 award for an unpublished work of fiction.

- Winona Wendth
DLPP Board Member
Writer; Associate Professor
Atlantic Union College, Massachusetts

For a complete list of Barbara Kingsolver’s published works, see the Bibliography section of her website. Each of her books is described in more detail in the Books section, and critical acclaim is listed in the Honors and Awards section. For a more complete biography, see Barbara Reveals Herself.

2011 Richard C. Holbrooke
Distinguished Achievement Award

Click to see award video
Click to see video

(Click photo to see acceptance speech at awards dinner.)

Barbara Kingsolver

"I'm very moved by both the legacy and the aspirations of this prize. It will be an honor to stand in the heart of the country and celebrate peace."

                                    Barbara Kingsolver

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 in her adult 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 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 Belt (2002), Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (2007), The Lacuna (2009) and Flight Behavior (2012). She served as editor for Best American Short Stories 2001. Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages, and have been adopted into the core literature curriculum in high schools and colleges throughout the nation. She has contributed to more than fifty literary anthologies, and her reviews and articles have appeared in most major U.S. newspapers and magazines. (Click here to view complete bibliography.)

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 The Orange Prize for Fiction, 2010.

She has two daughters, Camille (born in 1987) and Lily (1996). Her husband, Steven Hopp, teaches environmental studies. Since June 2004, Barbara and her family have lived on a farm in southern Appalachia. Barbara believes her best work is accomplished through writing, raising her children, and being an active citizen of her own community. She is grateful for the good will and support of her readers.

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