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Feb 3, 2004

The Poisonwood Bible 

I thought Barbara Kingsolver lived or did live for a considerable while in Congo to have written this novel, set in Congo, with such precision. I was amazed to find out, she did not, I have to salute her imagination.

One of the best written novels I have read in a while, Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible follows the lives of 4 sisters, three of them teenagers who are uprooted from their all-is-well-with-the-world-and-coming-out-parties life and is transplanted into the raw wilderness and the wild energy of Belgian Congo of the sixties. The reason they and their parents move to Congo is because the head of the family,Rev.Nathan Price, who is a Baptist preacher takes upon his shoulders to deliver all heathen Congolese people from evil and make them everyone of them, true Christians. The chapters of the novel are fashioned as narrations made by each girl as they struggle and acclimatize their way through Africa and their lives.

The novel also opens a small but true window on the specter of American leadership extending their strong arm to control the rest of the world. You thought Iraq was something new(well atleast there were some rotten parts to it, like the Presidential family), well Kingsolver got news for you. Patrice Lumumba, Belgian Congo's first democratically elected leader after its independence in 1960, who won with an overwhelming majority, was overthrown, later murdered and an US backed puppet dictator installed as President with the blessings of the illustrious Ike. All of this happened within a few months of country's independence from Belgium. Thanks to Congo's diamonds, gold and other precious natural resources. The novel follows the Price family through these turbulent times, how each of them carve out their own ways within the smouldering soul of Africa to emerge with their own voices and indebted to the great dark continent.