Friday, June 04, 2010

The Poisonwood Bible

I just finished reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, which takes place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the time leading up to and following the political crisis - with Belgium, Congo Independence, and its desperate history under the name of Zaire. I really enjoy stories told from multiple perspectives and this one is told from the perspectives of Kingsolver's five main characters - the wife and four daughters of a misguided and staunchly dogmatic (is that redundant?) missionary.

I find Kinsolver's writing to be so thoughtful and poignant. I also find her characters to be believable even in such a foreign setting, as they grapple with their own weaknesses and day-to-day worries. I thought this was a fabulous book - a well-told story that created a picture of a world so remote and so different, yet filled with people we tend to encounter every day in any setting. I think the most dominant impression I'm left with is her message that you can learn something from everyone you meet.

I particularly enjoyed learning so much about the Congo, though after finishing this book, seeing that it was published in 1998 and knowing that war broke out in that same year in the Congo I feel, Herman Wouk-style, that Kingsolver needs to give us the second installment.

Just for fun, pictured on the left is an okapi. These animals came up in the novel and I have encountered many people who don't know what they are. They are closest in relation to the giraffe and are natives of Africa.