Prizewinning and Thought Provoking

by | Mar 2024

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Last fall, one of my book clubs read Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver; it won one of two Pulitzer Prizes given for fiction in 2023.

Damon Fields is born in Lee County, Virginia, in a trailer in the 1990s. His mother is 18 years old, a drug addict and a foster care dropout. While his mom is in rehab, their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Peggot, look after Damon as does the first of his many social workers. The Peggots also parent a baby grandson, Matt, whose mother is in prison.

Damon has his father’s wiry copper colored hair, dark skin and green eyes. It does not take long for Damon to become Demon Copperhead. His red hair and the snakes one learns to identify in the South make the nickname perfect for him in the eyes of people who live in Lee County. Matt soon becomes Maggot. Demon and Maggot come of age as the opioid epidemic rages through Appalachia and, eventually, the rest of the United States.

This compulsively readable novel is narrated by Demon. Like the England of Dickens’s David Copperfield, the worst of America’s problems beset Lee County.

Maureen Millea Smith is a retired librarian and Minnesota Book Award winning novelist.


Recent Stories

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This