Citizen Review: The Lacuna

We continue our occasional series of customer reviews with the latest from novelist Barbara Kingsolver.

The Lacuna
The United States has some ‘splainin’ to do. Kingsolver’s newest novel, The Lacuna, shines light on some of the darkest episodes in American and Mexican history, including the brutal suppression of the 1932 bonus army protests, Leon Trotsky’s murder in 1940, and the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s. The novel begins with Harrison Shepherd’s tumultuous childhood, spent shuffling between his Mexican mother and American father. A gift of a diving mask allows him to exchange the ugliness of life on land for the beauty and mystery of life underwater, where he discovers his first “lacuna” or “gap” in the form of a cave accessible only when the tide is just right. A chance encounter with Frida Kahlo shapes the rest of his life, spent mostly as a writer in North Carolina. We get a glimpse of the difficulties he faces as a young gay man pre-Stonewall. The cruelties of the McCarthy era are portrayed without ambiguity. Kingsolver’s deft, compelling prose backs us into a corner with Shepherd until we can see no way out. And then the lacuna beckons.
Nancy Seger is a social worker who lives in south Minneapolis. She bagged twenty-two (22!) bags of leaves this fall. She has also recently re-discovered a deep love of falafel.

PS: Barbara Kingsolver was on Minnesota Public Radio recently. You can hear the hour-long interview here.