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Extended Audio Sample The Lacuna: A Novel, by Barbara Kingsolver Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (26,888 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Barbara Kingsolver Narrator: Barbara Kingsolver Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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From the Mexico City of Frida Kahlo to the America of J. Edgar Hoover, The Lacuna tells the poignant story of a man pulled between two nations.

Born in the United States, but reared in Mexico, Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from housekeepers and, one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed muralist Diego Rivera. When he goes to work for Rivera, his wife, exotic artist Kahlo, and exiled leader Lev Trotsky, Shepherd inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution.

Meanwhile, the United States has embraced the internationalist goodwill of World War II. Back in the land of his birth, Shepherd seeks to remake himself in America’s hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. But political winds continue to toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on the unspeakable breach—the lacuna—between truth and public presumption.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Breathtaking…dazzling…The Lacuna can be enjoyed sheerly for the music of its passages on nature, archaeology, food and friendship; or for its portraits of real and invented people; or for its harmonious choir of voices. But the fuller value of Kingsolver’s novel lies in its call to conscience and connection. She has mined Shepherd’s richly imagined history to create a tableau vivant of epochs and people that time has transformed almost past recognition. Yet it’s a tableau vivant whose story line resonates in the present day, albeit with different players. Through Shepherd’s resurrected notebooks, Kingsolver gives voice to truths whose teller could express them only in silence.”

    New York Times

  • “Compelling…Kingsolver’s descriptions of life in Mexico City burst with sensory detail—thick sweet breads, vividly painted walls, the lovely white feet of an unattainable love.”

    New Yorker

  • “This rich novel is certainly bigger than its politics. It resurrects several dramatic events of the early twentieth century that have fallen out of public consciousness, brings alive the forgotten details of everyday life in the 1940s, and illustrates how attitudes and prejudices are shaped by political opportunism and the rapacious media. But despite this large, colorful canvas, ultimately The Lacuna is a tender story about a thoughtful man who just wanted to enjoy that basic American right: the right to be left alone.”

    Washington Post

  • “Ambitious…achieves a rare dramatic power that reaches its emotional peak when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee…[Kingsolver] masterfully resurrects a dark period in American history with the assured hand of a true literary artist.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • Shortlisted for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
  • Selected for the November 2009 Indie Next List
  • A 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
  • One of the 2009 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Eric | 2/19/2014

    " Everything about this book -- Kingsolver and her reputation, the 500+ page weightiness of the novel, the epic scope of the narrative and the vast research involved, etc. -- suggests the "great American novel." For whatever reason, though, The Lacuna didn't capture my imagination as I thought it would, and I ended up feeling my interest in the novel was as discontinuous as its narrative form (and typically I'm a sucker for the epistolary/diary-like format that predominates in this one). It may be because my attention wavered too much over a rather protracted reading period, or it may be that in Kingsolver's historical fiction the former term seems to dominate the latter so much that I never quite warmed to Harrison Shepherd the way I should have in a novel with this kind of density. Still, the scenes in Mexico resonate and the novel's preoccupations communicate interestingly with our post-9/11 political landscape and our current immigration debates, and I sense that if I read the novel again in other circumstances it all might come up differently. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Alisa Miller | 2/11/2014

    " This is pure Barbara Kingsolver. She manages to merge society, nature, and history in such a way that while getting lost in the plot, the reader suddenly remembers that some of the characters actually existed in real life. A joyous ride through the Mexican countryside--and beyond. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Marsha | 2/3/2014

    " Wow! I'm only giving it 4 stars because it was difficult to read, but it should get 5 stars for being thought-provoking. Makes me feel naive to have thought the world is in more of a mess than ever today. It's always been in a mess. Is it destined to stay that way? I hope not. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Pat Holliday | 2/3/2014

    " I loved it. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver opened new doors for me. "

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