Homeland: And Other Stories

Homeland: And Other Stories

by Barbara Kingsolver


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With the same wit and sensitivity that have come to characterize her highly praised and beloved novels, Barbara Kingsolver gives us a rich and emotionally resonant collection of twelve stories. Spreading her memorable characters over landscapes ranging from Northern California to the hills of eastern Kentucky and the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, Kingsolver tells stories of hope, momentary joy, and powerful endurance. In every setting, Kingsolver's distinctive voice— at times comic, but often heartrending—rings true as she explores the twin themes of family ties and the life choices one must ultimately make alone.

Homeland and Other Stories creates a world of love and possibility that readers will want to take as their own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062277749
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/07/2013
Series: P.S. Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 182,759
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Barbara Kingsolver is the author of nine bestselling works of fiction, including the novels, Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, and The Bean Trees, as well as books of poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction. Her work of narrative nonfiction is the enormously influential bestseller Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Kingsolver’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned literary awards and a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts, as well as the prestigious Dayton Literary Peace Prize for her body of work. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Date of Birth:

April 8, 1955

Place of Birth:

Annapolis, Maryland


B.A., DePauw University, 1977; M.S., University of Arizona, 1981

Read an Excerpt

Chaptet One


My great-grandmother belonged to the Bird Clan. one of the fugitive bands of Cherokee who resisted he year that General Winfield Scott was in charge of prodding the forest people from their beds and removing them westward. Those few who escaped his notice moved like wildcat families through the Carolina mountains, leaving the ferns unbroken where they passed, eating wild grapes and chestnuts, drinking when they found streams. The ones who could not travel, the aged and the infirm and the very young, were hidden in deep cane thickets where they would remain undiscovered until they were bones. When the people's hearts could not bear any more, they laid their deerskin packs on the ground and settled again.

General Scott had moved on to other endeavors by this time, and he allowed them to thrive or perish as they would. They built clay houses with thin, bent poles for spines, and in autumn they went down to the streams where the sycamore trees had let their year's work fall, the water steeped brown as leaf tea, and the people cleansed themselves of the sins of the scattered-bone time. They called their refugee years The Time When We Were Not, and they were for given, because they had carried the truth of themselves in a sheltered place inside the flesh, exactly the way a fruit that has gone soft still carries inside itself the clean, hard stone of its future...

Homeland and Other Stories. Copyright © by Barbara Kingsolver. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary:

"Remember that story," she often commanded at the end, and I would be stunned with guilt because my mind had wandered onto crickets and pencil erasers and Black Beauty.

"I might not remember," I told her. "It's too hard."

Great Mam allowed that I might think I had forgotten. "But you haven't. You keep it stored away," she said. "If it's important, your heart remembers."

I had known that hearts could break and sometimes even be attacked, with disastrous result, but I had not heard of hearts remembering. I was eleven years old. I did not trust any of my internal parts with the capacity of memory.

-Gloria St. Clair in Homeland

In these twelve tender and humorous stories, Kingsolver creates a series of memorable characters, mostly women who are barely scraping by, but whose inner lives are rich and deep as they struggle to make sense of their lives. In the midst of poverty, abandonment, or loss, these women are determined to articulate for themselves what it means to be who they are, and in so doing, assert the significance of their lives. The more remarkable of these tales evoke the legendary and visionary qualities of myth. Among these is the title story, a story Russell Banks called "pure poetry," written in a language so exquisite that "no synopsis can do it justice." In it, the narrator describes a childhood memory of her family's trip to her grandmother's homeland, Cherokee, Tennessee, so that Great Mam could see it before she died. What they see are ugly, depressing results of theviolent destruction of the Cherokee past; against these losses, the grandmother's storytelling becomes a form of genuine cultural preservation. In "Rose-Johnny" a ten-year-old girl confronts the sexual and racial complexities of the South in the figure of a strange woman. Another story, "Why I am a Danger to the Public," is about the sharp-tongued Vicki Morales, a crane operator in a New Mexico mining town, who, at great risk, leads a wildcat strike. At once realistic and idealistic, these stories suggest that humans are both poignantly fragile, but also, luckily, resilient.

-1990 American Library Association Best Books of the Year

Kingsolver on the Characters in her Fiction
"I write about people who may not automatically command respect because of their positions in life. They aren't people who are normally thought to be the stuff of literature. They're not heroes. They're the single mom who lives next door to you and runs over to ask if you'll watch her baby while she takes her cat to the vet because it just swallowed mothballs. They're two women in a kitchen, not the three muskateers. Beginning with the understanding that they are not automatically invested with greatness, I want them to tell their own stories, in their own words. I want your sympathy -- I want you to listen to these people and to believe them and to understand the value of their lives. That's why I rely so heavily on the first-person narrative. Even if hese characters don't have flashy vocabularies, they still have poetic thoughts. And there's no way you, the reader, will ever know that unless I let you inside their minds."

For additional copies, contact your local bookseller.

Topics for Discussion:
1.A number of these stories deal with mother-daugther relationships. What are some of the very different kind of mother-daughter bonds that occur in various stories (both positive and negative)? What different themes are explored in these relationships?

2. One theme of these tales is the deliberate destruction of the past, on a personal level and a cultural level. How does this annihilation of the past affect specific characters in the present? What do these stories suggest about what is happening in the world?

3. Why do you think the story "Homeland" might have been chosen to be the title story in this collection? Would you have chosen a different one, on the basis of its strength or theme that unifies the collection?

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Homeland and Other Stories 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this collection of short stories. I wished each one would've kept going into a full-length book! The only two I didn't care for were Bereaved Apartments and Jump-up Day. I didn't understand the point of them. But the rest were superb! You can't miss with Barbara Kingsolver. She is one of my all-time favorite authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
enjoyed the book, easy read. Barbara has written another book that takes the reader to other places. Would recommend it without reservations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lovers whose relationship nearly founders when a new environment changes both partners in ways neither expects. A woman working in a 'man's job' (mining) who suffers the consequences of a strike in ways no man possibly could. A seemingly pleasant neighbor who abuses an elderly lady's trust, but doesn't see his own actions in that light. In each of these 12 short stories, Barbara Kingsolver draws her characters clearly and says something worth remembering about life, love, and human nature. Not every writer can handle this format and the novel equally well, but Kingsolver's touch is as deft here as in her much longer works. Especially good reading for those nights when you don't want (or can't afford) to be kept up by a book you can't put down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Homeland and Other Stories' showcases Barbara Kingsolver's remarkable ear for heartland speech as well as her talent for painting the every day struggles of people through exquisite but understated detail. Kingsolver never falls into melodrama nor does she show disrespect for her characters. This is a beautiful and powerful collection.
barefeet4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as good as her novels but, like her longer works believable stories about real people. In some ways these stories remind me of Steinbeck's short stories.
rachelprz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
some wonderful stories inside this book. very strong mother theme.
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