“This is a real blockbuster of a novel with stunning energy, enormous humor, wit and sheer narrative drive. It’s a retelling of Dickens’s David Copperfield, from the title onwards. In fact, it follows Dickens’s plot fairly closely but Kingsolver moves the action to poor, rural Virginia, to the lives of country dwellers who in American culture have always been dismissed as hillbillies. In a way, it’s a great celebration and reclamation of that so-called hillbilly identity.
But it’s more than that because as the young hero Damon (or Demon) grows up, he becomes embroiled in one of the greatest social crises of contemporary America, which is opioid addiction. It becomes an issue-driven book, but the great disaster of mass addiction in his rural community never overwhelms his voice. It never dampens the wit and the sheer exuberance of the storytelling. In the end, it’s a book about some very, very dark social processes, but at the same time it’s still absolutely uplifting, exhilarating and enjoyable.”
Best Political Novels of 2023, recommended by Boyd Tonkin