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Faces of DePauw

Addressing Social Issues Through Art "Important" to Barbara Kingsolver '77

Addressing Social Issues Through Art "Important" to Barbara Kingsolver '77

February 7, 2007

Barbara Kingsolver 2005.jpgFebruary 7, 2007, Greencastle, Ind. - Barbara Kingsolver, the acclaimed novelist and 1977 graduate of DePauw University, "said that she established the Bellwether Prize because the United States lags behind other countries in addressing social issues through art," reports the Press-Enterprise of Southern California. "She believes one of the most important things an artist can do is to participate in cultural values, examine social justice and strive for a visionary role in the world."

The article which cites Kingsolver focuses on Gayle Brandeis, whose novel, The Book of Dead Birds, won Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social Change.

A commitment to addressing social issues "is obviously one of the things our panel of judges valued about Gayle's first novel, [Fruitflesh]" Kingsolver tells the newspaper. "Her second [The Book of Dead Birds] is even better." Brandeis' third book, Self Storage, was recently published by Ballantine, a division of Random House. 

The Press-Enterprise's Pat O'Brien writes, "Brandeis asked Kingsolver, an award-winning novelist and finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, for advice after she'd rewritten Self Storage a couple of times. 'What I brought to the table was purely craft,' Kingsolver said. Barbara Kingsolver Food Life.jpg'I was unsparing, and Gayle was wonderful. It involved rewriting the novel from Page 1. I'm so impressed with Gayle. I'm proud to have her as a peer. She has a little voice, but on paper her voice is immense.'"

The complete article is available at the newspaper's Web site (a subscription may be required).

A zoology major at DePauw, Barbara Kingsolver's books include the Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer, The Bean Trees, Small Wonder and Last Stand: America's Virgin Lands, a collaboration with National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths Belt. A recipient of the National Humanities Medal in 2000, she has also contributed to a number of other books, most recently Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape. She has a new book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, scheduled to be released in May.