“I could never work out whether we were to view religion as a life-insurance policy or a life sentence.”
Book? . . . The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver
What kind? . . . Novel
Be more specific . . . Literary fiction, realism with some mystical elements, social issues, historical family saga
About what? . . . American Baptist preacher and his wife and daughters go to the Belgian Congo in 1959 to do missionary work in the “heart of darkness”, the dense interior jungle of central Africa. Their experiences highlight the political and cultural conflicts that began with European colonization centuries earlier and continue to plague Africa today.
Significance? . . . A beautifully constructed historical family saga, about a subject that most readers know too little about (me included). Characters are developed brilliantly. Apt and memorable metaphors. A vivid exposé against colonialism in general and evangelical religion in particular, this is a story that had to be written. Fortunately, it was written by an author with depth, eloquence and heart.
So should I read it or what? . . . Sure it’s fairly long, but, weaving history, politics and family turmoil into a cohesive story, I believe it is the best historical family saga I have read.
You got anything else to add? . . . Kingsolver’s book The Bean Trees is a very good novel, worth reading if you want something shorter, simpler and lighter than her masterpiece The Poisonwood Bible.