There are many things to admire about Barbara Kingsolver’s work. She has written some novels that I think about all the time, even years after first reading them. Her people and their stories crawl into my head and make a permanent home for themselves there, settling in between Aunt Helen’s overgrown garden at sunrise in the hottest days of summer and the sound of chalk squeaking in Sister Peter Joseph’s fourth grade classroom. What more could any author ask for?
Then today I came across this quote about writing, and now I know that she is indeed the wise woman I suspected she must be on the basis of her fiction. Because it all comes down to this.
“A novel can educate to some extent, but first a novel has to entertain. That’s the contract with the reader: you give me ten hours and I’ll give you a reason to turn every page. I have a commitment to accessibility. I believe in plot. I want an English professor to understand the symbolism while at the same time I want the people I grew up with — — who may not often read anything but the Sears catalog — — to read my books.”