Barbara Kingsolver — the celebrated author and poet who lives in Washington County — won one of two 2023 Pulitzer Prizes awarded for fiction for her popular novel “Demon Copperhead.”
The awards were announced Monday.
“Demon Copperhead” was described in the news release announcing the awards as a “masterful recasting of David Copperfield, narrated by an Appalachian boy whose wise, unwavering voice relates his encounters with poverty, addiction, institutional failures and moral collapse — and his efforts to conquer them.”
Kingsolver, 68, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. But on her Facebook page, she said of the award: “Wow. Thanks so much for reading, believing, loving our place and our people. I’m overwhelmed, I won’t lie — this just doesn’t happen, does it? It’s the first Appalachian novel to win this prize since 1958. I’m so happy for Demon.”
The second award for fiction went to “Trust” by Hernan Diaz, a book about family, wealth and deceit set in 1920s New York. According to the Associated Press, it’s the first time the Pulitzers have awarded two fiction books in the category’s 105-year history.
Each award carries a $15,000 prize.
“Demon Copperhead” was chosen by Oprah Winfrey last fall for her book club and was named by The Washington Post as a top release of 2022.
It’s the first Pulitzer for Kingsolver, although her book “The Poisonwood Bible” was a finalist in 1999. Other popular novels she has written include “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” “Prodigal Summer,” “Animal Dreams,” “Unsheltered,” “Flight Behavior, “Pigs in Heaven” and her initial novel, “The Bean Trees.”
She has won a host of other awards, including being named one of the most important writers of the 20th century by Writers Digest. In 2000, she received the National Humanities Medal, this country’s highest honor for service through the arts. She also won Britain’s Orange Prize for Fiction, the James Beard Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for her body of work.
Kingsolver was born in 1955 and grew up in rural Kentucky. She earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona, and has worked as a freelance writer and author since 1985.
She has two daughters. She and her husband, Steven Hopp, who teaches environmental studies, live on a farm where they raise a large vegetable garden and Icelandic sheep, according to her website.