Splitting the World Open: An International Roundtable of Dangerous Women WritersSunday, May 9 | 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
In 1968, poet Muriel Rukeyser famously wrote, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” More than half a century later, women themselves feel split into a million pieces. This past year has been especially challenging for women, typically society’s primary caretakers. Indeed, mothers have been carrying an especially heavy load. Speaking one’s truth is hard when you’re totally exhausted.
So what better Mother’s Day gift for women (and all who love them) to spend an hour, free of charge, with three brilliant female authors, writing from and about multiple corners of the globe—India, the Middle East, North Africa, South America, the United States—with woman-focused stories? And these aren’t just any stories: the work of all three novelists was shortlisted for the Booker Prize or the Booker International Prize, the most prestigious literary awards in the world.
In Burnt Sugar, Dubai-based Indian author Avni Doshi explores the intimate dynamics of mother-daughter conflict and postpartum depression with an ambivalence and caustic wit that ruffled some feathers. It’s that fearless artistry that landed her on the 2020 Booker Prize shortlist with Ethiopian-American novelist Maaza Mengiste, whose novel The Shadow King (“a masterpiece,” said the Washington Post) features a female soldier fighting fascism during Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia. The story is inspired by the author’s great-grandmother, one of those women who, in Mengiste’s words, “stepped forward out of the shadows and made themselves known.” Chilean author Alia Trabucco Zerán, trained as a human rights lawyer before turning to literary work, wrote The Remainder, a finalist for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, to delve into the legacy of Chile’s military dictatorship. Her new novel, Las Homicidas, to appear in English translation in 2021, explores an arguably even more dangerous topic: how rage against injustice can be so profound that it drives some women to kill, and how that rage, as with the frustrated anger of any oppressed group, is often minimized and deflected.
This conversation offers a Mother’s Day like no other! The event is co-presented by Words Without Borders and moderated by Karen Phillips, its executive director. Words Without Borders expands cultural understanding through the translation, publication, and promotion of the finest contemporary international literature.
Watch the full episode
This event is also part of the Festival’s Women Lit series