‘The Poisonwood Bible’ by Barbara Kingsolver

The first thing I noticed about this book is the author. Kingsolver. Quite a name, uh?

Anyway, this is a review about the book, not Barbara’s family name.

‘The Poisonwood Bible’ is an epic story about a missionary Baptist family that leaves their cozy house in Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) to live in Kilanga, the tiniest village in Congo.

It’s a clash between Pastor Price and Africa in itself. While his wife and daughters struggle to come to terms with the new way of life, Nathan Price carries on his duty and his mission in the name of God and Jesus, trying to strip the savages naked of their false idols and dress them in the shining armor of God.

Well, as you may guess, old traditions are hard to kill and African traditions are maybe the oldest one you can find.

Throughout the book, the preacher’s wife Orleanna and their four daughters – Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May – report us how he tried to baptize the children in the Kwiko River, which is known to be infested by crocodiles; how he tried to grow a garden the western way, in a place subjected to floods and empty of pollinators; how he refused the help of Anatole, his translator, ending up yelling to the crowd that Jesus is bängala.

Little did he know that Kikongo, the language spoken in Kilanga, is a language easy to mistake for those who don’t understand it. This way, he kept on yelling that Jesus is Poisonwood, something that gives you swollen and itchy rushes wherever it touches you.

Set in the Sixties, of course this can’t only be a novel about a single family. This novel is about an entire nation, the Congo, the suffers it own wealth. The diamonds that could make it rich are those that bring it to destruction, as Lumumba is dragged into dust by the CIA and Mobutu creates his own dictatorship, with the blessing of Uncle Sam.

It’s a book about the faults of our fathers. It’s fiction, but it’s not.

With this book, Barbara brought me to places I had never seen so closely and has touched my heart in many ways.

No wonder has already become a classic. A book like this should be taught in schools (which it is, apparently. Good).

So, pop at your favourite bookshop and ask for a copy of ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ by Barbara Kingsolver.

If you want to know more about it, this is her own official and very special website: Barbara Kingsolver


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