Skip to Content

Past, Present, and Future: Barbara Kingsolver on Demon Copperhead and Silas House on Lark Ascending

October 18, 2022

The Center for Fiction was thrilled to welcome two acclaimed creative powerhouses, Barbara Kingsolver and Silas House, for a discussion about the past, present, and future of social inequity, complex family ties, and the significance of story. Kingsolver’s heart-wrenching new novel, Demon Copperhead, is an extraordinary reimagining of David Copperfield set in the mountains of Southwest Virginia at the onset of the opioid epidemic. In 1850, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children—issues just as relevant today. Tapping into Dickens’s rage and compassion, Kingsolver paints a rich portrait of contemporary Appalachian life and speaks for a new generation of lost boys in a beautiful, historically cursed place. Silas House looks to the near future in his riveting story of survival and hope, Lark Ascending. As fires devastate most of the United States, a young man is forced to flee the United States and seek refuge across the Atlantic to Ireland, the last country not yet overrun by extremists and rumored to be accepting American refugees.

In Conversation

  • Barbara Kingslover

    Barbara Kingsolver

    Barbara Kingsolver

    Barbara Kingsolver is the author of ten bestselling works of fiction, including the novels Unsheltered, Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, and The Bean Trees, as well as books of poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction. Her work of narrative nonfiction is the influential bestseller Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Kingsolver’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned literary awards and a devoted readership at home and abroad. She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts, as well as the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the body of her work. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

    Photo Credit: Evan Kafka

  • Silas House (c) C Williams - Eliana Cohen-Orth

    Silas House

    Silas House

    Silas House is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, one book of creative nonfiction, and three plays. His writing has appeared in the Atlantic, the Advocate, Time, Garden and Gun, the New York Times, and elsewhere. A former commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered, House is also an executive producer and one of the subjects of the Hulu film Hillbilly, the winner of the Media Award from the Foreign Press Association and other honors. He is the winner of The Nautilus Award, the Storylines Prize from the NAV/New York Public Library, the Appalachian Book of the Year, an E.B. White Honor, and many other awards.

    Photo Credit: C Williams