Award-winning Kingsolver ready to start new novel

Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:27am EDT
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By Sharon Lindores

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Barbara Kingsolver, winner of the Orange Prize for fiction, is back in the U.K. one month after scooping up the prestigious prize awarded to the best novel of the year written in English by a woman.

"I was more surprised to win than anyone," she said of the prize. "I never really expect to be successful." Kingsolver nearly threw out the first novel she wrote more than 20 years ago, but on a whim she decided to send it to an agent and was amazed when "The Bean Trees" was published.

"It truly could have gone either way," she said, adding that no one knew she was writing a book in the closet at night while pregnant with her first daughter.

Since that time she hasn't stopped writing. The author of 13 books including six novels, poetry, short stories, non-fiction and essays, Kingsolver has been lauded as one of the most important writers of the 20th Century by Writers Digest, as well as being a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

But she never wanted to be famous. And the Orange Prize is the first major prize she's won.

"The Lacuna," the book which launched her on her current trajectory, is about Harrison Shepherd, a man torn between Mexico and the United States and unwittingly caught up in the worlds of art and politics.

Shepherd's life becomes entwined with the famous muralist Diego Rivera, his wife Frida Kahlo and exiled Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky.

Speaking at the London Literature Festival at the weekend, Kingsolver, 55, joked that writing about communism in the United States was akin to declaring "I'm a leper."   Continued...