Barbara Kingsolver is a very good storyteller, with the gift of putting herself in the shoes of another to tell it from their unique point of view. In Homeland, a collection of 12 stories, the ‘it’ is often very ordinary, quite small, usually a routine part of the life of an ordinary person. It’s Kingsolver’s craft that turns the event or issue at the heart of each story into the extraordinary, bringing to the fore the impact of the small on people’s lives. In this book there is the tragic, the comic, the wise and the weak, the tough, the kind –all of us and all those we know.
Kingsolver has the ability to write deeply in the voice of another, and then another, and then to be the narrator who so accurately reports it on behalf of yet another that makes this such a rich collection. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who had read The Poisonwood Bible –if you liked that then these stories will appeal.
Short stories are not as popular as they should be, especially in the UK –in fact this book was loaned to me by a friend who bought it thinking it was a novel and has yet to read it. Let’s raise the profile of the short story; they can be as satisfying as longer fiction, and in the case of Homeland, each one is a gem, and together they make a reading jewel.