Kingsolver’s nonfiction book, Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983 (1989), examines the leadership role played by women during the Phelps Dodge Copper Company labor dispute. The small towns described resemble Grace, and the women are the prototypes of the Stitch and Bitch Club in Animal Dreams.
The Bean Trees (1988), Kingsolver’s first novel, follows Taylor Greer as she sets off from her native Kentucky to find a better, more rewarding life in Tucson, Arizona.
The Poisonwood Bible (1998) is Kingsolver’s fourth novel and a runaway bestseller. Set in 1959 at a time of political upheaval in what was then the Belgian Congo, it follows the story of Baptist minister Nathan Price as he arrives with his family in a remote village to preach the gospel.
Waste Land: Meditations on a Ravaged Landscape (1997), by David T. Hanson, is a startling collection of aerial-view photographs of landscapes in America contaminated by industrial pollution.
Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992 (2000), by William M. Leogrande, gives a very detailed account of U.S. foreign policy toward Nicaragua (as well as El Salvador) during the time period covered in Animal Dreams.
Tracks (1988), by Louise Erdrich, recreates the tensions between white and Native American culture in North Dakota from 1912-1924. Kingsolver names Erdrich as one of her favorite writers.
Another of Kingsolver’s favorite writers is Leslie Marmon Silko. In the vast Almanac of the Dead (1991), Silko focuses on the struggles of the native populations of the American southwest to reclaim the land that the Europeans have appropriated.
“Careful What You Let in the Door,” Kingsolver’s essay in her collection High Tide in Tucson (1995), discusses her justification for sometimes including violence in her novels, and includes reference to the kidnapping and murder of Hallie in Animal Dreams.