In her most accomplished novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on
an epic journey from the Mexico City of artists Diego Rivera and
Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar
Hoover. The Lacuna is a poignant story of a man pulled
between two nations as they invent their modern identities.
Born in the United States, reared in a series of provisional
households in Mexico-from a coastal island jungle to 1930s Mexico
City-Harrison Shepherd finds precarious shelter but no sense of
home on his thrilling odyssey. Life is whatever he learns from
housekeepers who put him to work in the kitchen, errands he runs in
the streets, and one fateful day, by mixing plaster for famed
Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. He discovers a passion for Aztec
history and meets the exotic, imperious artist Frida Kahlo, who
will become his lifelong friend. When he goes to work for Lev
Trotsky, an exiled political leader fighting for his life, Shepherd
inadvertently casts his lot with art and revolution, newspaper
headlines and howling gossip, and a risk of terrible violence.
Meanwhile, to the north, the United States will soon be caught
up in the internationalist goodwill of World War II. There in the
land of his birth, Shepherd believes he might remake himself in
America's hopeful image and claim a voice of his own. He finds
support from an unlikely kindred soul, his stenographer, Mrs.
Brown, who will be far more valuable to her employer than he could
ever know. Through darkening years, political winds continue to
toss him between north and south in a plot that turns many times on
the unspeakable breach-the lacuna-between truth and public
With deeply compelling characters, a vivid sense of place, and a
clear grasp of how history and public opinion can shape a life,
Barbara Kingsolver has created an unforgettable portrait of the
artist-and of art itself. The Lacuna is a rich and daring
work of literature, establishing its author as one of the most
provocative and important of her time.