Oprah Winfrey’s book club is reading a new book that reinterprets a familiar classic, David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. However, while the famous novel by Dickens was set in England during the Victorian era, the new book is set in modern-day America. The new novel, Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingslover, provides readers with a modern take on the classic.
The author of the new book may be one that you know. Kingslover has written several well-known books. Her works include Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and The Poisonwood Bible, a previous pick in Oprah’s Book Club. Many of her stories center around relationships that people have with one another and their environments, while addressing topics such as social justice. Demon Copperhead is no different.
‘Demon Copperhead’ Is A Coming Of Age Tale
A story of life in southern Appalachia Virginia, Demon Copperhead is the nickname of the main character, Damon Fields. He is born to a single mother in the late 1980s and lives in poverty. As a child, he is given the nickname “Demon” because of his so-called attitude problem. “Copperhead” comes from the color of his hair.
The novel follows Demon’s journey of childhood in the rural south. Demon enters foster care due to his mother’s drug overdose and then becomes addicted to opioids himself after suffering a knee injury while playing football. However, the main character’s saving grace is his love for superheroes and his blossoming talent for drawing his own comics.
Reimagining ‘David Copperfield’ In 21st Century America
Kingslover’s book surprisingly draws on David Copperfield, an interesting and brilliant choice by the best-selling author. From the first line of the book, Kingslover acknowledges Dickens’ book while informing the reader that Demon Copperhead is a story for a new generation.
As the main character begins to recount his childhood, the novel opens with this line from Demon: “First, I got myself born.” For readers familiar with David Copperfield, they’ll recognize the connection, as well as the differences, at play in the opening lines of Dickens’ famous work: “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”
Demon Copperhead is a coming of age tale that deals with many hardships Americans face today. The story addresses themes of child labor, addiction, poverty, love, and tragedies. However, throughout the book, Kingslover presents Demon in such a way that you’ll be cheering him on, even as he experiences loss after loss.