Award-winning American Author and Activist Barbara Kingsolver to Receive Duke LEAF Award

March 31, 2011

Tim Lucas, 919-613-8084,

DURHAM, N.C. -- Critically acclaimed American author Barbara Kingsolver will be the 2011 recipient of The Duke LEAF Award for Lifetime Environmental Achievement in the Fine Arts. Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment will present the award to Kingsolver on April 9 on Duke’s campus.

Kingsolver is the author of seven works of fiction as well as books of poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction. Her bestsellers include The Lacuna, The Poisonwood Bible, Animal Dreams, and The Bean Trees, and the nonfiction narrative Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.

The award was established in 2009 to honor artists whose works have lifted the human spirit by conveying our profound spiritual and material connection to the Earth, thereby inspiring others to help forge a more sustainable life for all. Actor Robert Redford received the inaugural award.

The ceremony, beginning at 2 p.m. in Page Auditorium on the Duke campus, will include a reading by Kingsolver from her recent work.

The event is free with limited seating for the general public, but tickets are required and will be distributed through the Duke Box Office.  Information will be available on

“Barbara Kingsolver’s work occupies a unique and important place in the world of literature,” says Nicholas School Dean William L. Chameides. “Her ability to interweave themes of human struggle and the search for meaning with the larger, timeless drama of life and death in the natural world, remind us that we are but one facet of a complex, and extraordinary planetary system, a system whose trajectory will ultimately determine our own fate and thus one which we must value and steward.”

It was in recognition of this, Chameides says, and for Kingsolver’s significant non-fiction contributions with environmental themes, that the executive committee of the school’s Board of Visitors selected her for the LEAF award. The committee also cited Kingsolver for her strong long-term support and advocacy for the environment.

Kingsolver’s husband and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle co-author, Steven L. Hopp, who teaches environmental studies at Emory and Henry College, will accompany her to Durham and give a talk to members of the Duke community. Hopp will discuss “Farm to Fork: the benefits of sustainable eating” with Laura Hall, owner, entrepreneur and creator of The Refectory Cafe, Duke’s first Green café, at 2 p.m. Friday, April 8, at The Refectory in Duke Divinity School.

An ornithologist, Hopp conducts research in bioacoustics and the natural history of vireos. He is a self-proclaimed locavore and owner of The Harvest Table Restaurant in Meadowview, Va. He and daughter, Camille Kingsolver, who graduated from Duke in 2009, collaborated with Barbara Kingsolver to write Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which chronicles the year the family (including daughter Lily) vowed to buy food grown only in their southern Appalachian neighborhood, grow it or do without.

Barbara Kingsolver grew up in rural Kentucky. She earned degrees in biology from DePauw University and the University of Arizona, and has worked as a freelance writer and author since 1985.

Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages, and have been adopted into the core literature curriculum in high schools and colleges throughout the nation.  In 1998 she established the Bellwether Prize for fiction.  She was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts, in 2000.

Kingsolver was named one the most important writers of the 20th Century by Writers Digest. Critical acclaim for her books includes multiple awards from the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association, among many others. Her most recent work, The Lacuna, is winner of The Orange Prize for Fiction. The Poisonwood Bible was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the Orange Prize, and won the national book award of South Africa, before being named an Oprah Book Club selection. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle won numerous prizes including the James Beard award.

No stranger to Duke, Kingsolver was the 2008 Commencement speaker, receiving an honorary doctorate, and was a keynote for the North Carolina Festival of the Book held at Duke in 2006.