literature & poetry
talks & debates

Barbara Kingsolver in Conversation

Barbara Kingsolver discusses her much-anticipated new novel Unsheltered and beyond in an in conversation with journalist and broadcaster Samira Ahmed.

A keen observer of politics and contemporary culture, Kingsolver tackles the uncertainty of the present with her latest novel, Unsheltered.

The book follows the modern-day story of Willa Knox, a middle-aged woman racked by career and family crises, with nothing to show for her life’s work and dedication except unpaid bills and a dilapidated house in Vineland, New Jersey.

But when Willa delves into the history of her home and her community, she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s: Thatcher Greenwood, science teacher and fervent advocate of the work of Charles Darwin, who encounters resistance in the small town of Vineland as it becomes clear that influential locals have no desire for a new world order.

A testament to both the resilience and persistent myopia of the human condition, Unsheltered explores the foundations we build in life, spanning time and place, to give us all a clearer look at those around us and perhaps ourselves. A work that explores the theme of inheritance – whether social, economic or ecological – it recalls George Eliot in its blend of warmth and wisdom, fearlessness and political acuity: a novel that speaks truly to our times.

Kingsolver’s previous fourteen works of non-fiction and fiction, including The Poisonwood Bible, have been translated into dozens of languages and earned a devoted readership. She won the Orange Prize for The Lacuna and her novel Flight Behaviour was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

In 2000, she was awarded the National Humanities Medal, the United States’ highest honour for service through the arts. Before she made her living as a writer, Kingsolver earned degrees in biology and worked as a scientist. She now lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Southbank Centre is proud to present one of the most celebrated and essential voices of our time in this UK exclusive event.

Samira Ahmed is an award winning journalist and broadcaster. She presents Front Row on Radio 4 and Newswatch on BBC1 and is a visiting professor of journalism at Kingston University. Ahmed has been a reporter on Newsnight, the Today Programme, covered the OJ Simpson civil trial as the BBC's Los Angeles correspondent and won the Stonewall Broadcast of the year award while a presenter and reporter at Channel 4 News.

Dates & times

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Royal Festival Hall


£25 - £45
Booking fee: £3.50 (Members £0.00)
£25, £35, £45


25% off (limited availability)
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need to know

Age recommendation
For ages 16+.

Hardback copies of Barbara Kingsolver’s new book Unsheltered are available for £20 when you buy a ticket to the talk, to be collected at the event.

Access information
This event is British Sign Language interpreted (BSL) and Speech-to-Text transcribed (STT). To join our free Access Scheme and book tickets for these services, call our Ticket Office on 020 3879 9555 or email
Find out more about our Access Scheme