We don't think of ourselves as having extended families. We look at you guys and think you have contracted families.
- Annawake Fourkiller in Pigs in Heaven
"Women on their own run in Alice's family." So thinks Alice Greer, sixty-one years old, as she is about to leave her second husband, Harland; and the novel appears to offer no argument against this. She, her daughter Taylor, and Taylor's informally adopted daughter, Turtle, all seem fated to lives uncomplicated by relationships with men. But simplicity is gone forever when Taylor and Turtle (who is Cherokee) appear on TV by a coincidence of fate, and come to the attention of Annawake Fourkiller, a lawyer for the Cherokee nation. Taylor finds herself in a conflict between her own and what she thinks of as Turtle's best interests, and those of the tribe. Citing the Indian Welfare Act, which states that all adoptions of Native American children must be authorized by their tribes, Annawake detrmines to try to invalidate Turtle's adoption. Meanwhile, fearing that she will lose her daughter, Taylor takes Turtle and flees Arizona, leaving behind her devoted boyfriend, Jax. Along the way to resolution of this seemingly irresolvable conflict, many lives are changed.
-1993 Los Angeles Book Award for Fiction
-1994 Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association Award
Kingsolver on Pigs in Heaven:
"Every book I write begins with a question. With Pigs in Heaven the question had to do with ideas of community and individualism, and how we can integrate those very different -- sometimes even antagonistic--senses of value. Living in the West, I've seen many real-life cases of Native American kids who've been taken outside their tribes to be raised by non-native parents, and whose tribes later want them brought back. The way these cases are played out in the media is very telling. The mainstream media focus on the adoptive mother and child; that's a holy icon, literally, in our culture. The news stories ask, how can it be in the best interest of this child to lose its children? When you think about it, those questions are coming from very different assumptions about what is most important in this world. What's best for the individual? What's best for the group? Those questions seem to pass each other in the air. I began to wonder if there was any point of intersection in that dialogue. I decided to try to write a story that would compel you to think, and laugh, and really love both sides of that particular fight.
Pigs in Heaven