- Publication Date: October 18, 2022
- Print Length: 560 pages
- Winner of 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
THE EMPIRE OF PAIN: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE SACKLER DYNASTY
- Publication Date: April 13, 2021
- Print Length: 625 pages
- Best Book of 2021; The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe
Modeled after David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, Kingsolver tells a coming-of-age story of Demon Copperhead, a teenage orphan who struggles to survive in an Appalachia that has been devastated by opioid addiction.
While Kingsolver humanizes the suffering caused by the opioid epidemic, Patrick Radden Keefe’s book, The Empire of Pain, reveals how the Sackler family plotted to promote, market, and distribute oxycontin, as a non-addictive antidote to pain. As part of his research into the origins of America’s opioid epidemic, Keefe identifies the short-sighted policy decisions and greed that allowed oxycontin to become so widely abused, particularly in Appalachia.
In Kingsolver’s account, opioid addiction is just one of the hardships children in Appalachia’s poor, rural communities face as the systems designed to help them fail to do so. For his part, Keefe highlights the ways in which the FDA and the American justice system were slow to respond to the widespread problems of opioid addiction until the problem became a full-blown epidemic in which nearly 500,000 Americans have died.
Kois, Dan, “Barbara Kingsolver was Writing Social Justice Novels Before they were Cool.” Slate, October 17, 2022. https://slate.com/culture/2022/10/barbara-kingsolver-interview-demon-copperhead-appalachia-identity-politics.html
Young, Molly, “In Barbara Kingsolver’s New Novel, an Appalachian David Copperfield.” The New York Times, October 16, 2022. Book Review: “Demon Copperhead,” by Barbara Kingsolver – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Charles, Ron, “Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Demon Copperhead’ may be the Best Novel of 2022.” The Washington Post, October 25, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/2022/10/25/barbara-kingsolver-demon-copperhead-review/
Carreyrou, John, “Patrick Radden Keefe Lays Bare a Drug Crisis Fueled by Family Greed.” The New York Times, April 13, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/13/books/review/empire-of-pain-sackler-dynasty-patrick-radden-keefe.html