The Farm by Joanne Ramos

book spine on side of sofa, the farm by joanne ramos

a nutshell: an eerie depiction of hypercapitalism & bodily colonisation, this novel follows a Filipina immigrant to the US who commits to being a ‘Host’ at Golden Oaks – a venture sort of like the Uber of pregnancies, where immigrants are paid to get a foetus from A (insemination) to B (birth) for the convenience of rich clients

a line: “But how many Good, Obedient Anyones truly make it in the world?”

an image: Ramos often conjures up an acutely oppressive atmosphere in her portrayal of life at the ‘Farm’, particularly in one scene where she describes humble bloated bodies, a crushing sky above, and the possibility of unnoticed shards of glass below (after a bottle is smashed)

a thought: this book was suggested by Cara Teo Ong, aka thebookingchild, who got in touch with the idea of a ‘buddy read’; after we had both read the novel, we shared our thoughts – take a look at Cara’s recap of our conversation here & read her own review here!

a fact: yesterday I stumbled across a news article (through my work in women’s rights) about 32 Cambodian women who received suspended jail terms for carrying the babies of Chinese clients – this is no ‘dystopia’, this is now

want to read The Farm? visit here

Sarab by Raja Alem (tr. Leri Price)

veiled woman on front cover of Sarab book with white and black scarf

a nutshell: this sweeping novel follows a woman whose familial devotion leads her to participate in the 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, ultimately transporting her far from the Saudi desert where she grew up

a line: “Is it a duty in life to kill those who aren’t an exact copy of ourselves?”

an image: at one moment, a character opens the door to an apartment immersed in darkness where he could’ve cut the curtains of depression with a knife (PTSD is an ongoing theme)

a thought: I was intrigued by Alem’s tacit condemnation of gender stereotypes – how she portrays & subverts expectations of how a man or a woman should behave, e.g. probing a protagonist’s initial shock at a man in tears or traditional disgust at women’s menstruation – the latter is an issue that recurs throughout the novel

a fact: I began the book with virtually zero knowledge of this event in 1979 and learned more about it here; interestingly it seems the House of Saud’s response was essentially: ‘the solution to the religious upheaval was simple: more religion’

want to read Sarab? visit here

My Walk to Equality: Essays, Stories & Poetry by Papua New Guinean Women – ed. Rashmii Amoah Bell

a nutshell: this eclectic anthology gives voice to diverse women from all corners of Papua New Guinean society, gathering their compelling thoughts and moving experiences under four themes: relationships, self-awareness, challenging gender roles, and legacy

a line: “The skies open up and let down a shower. It drowns out the sound giving the drummer more power . . . My sister, my sister did you feel the drum beat?” (an excerpt from Vanessa Gordon’s devastating poem ‘Drumbeat’)

an image: having grown up in a culture of misogyny and colourism, photographer Tania Basiou captures truly beautiful images following her decision that through her lens there’d be body positivity, femininity, empowerment and a celebration not only of being a woman, but also a Papua New Guinean woman

a thought: the intrinsic value of story-telling is highlighted by Theresa Meki, who recounts one of the tumbuna (old legend) stories that her mother, a Kafe woman from the Eastern Highlands, would tell her children to impart an understanding of justice and why one must respect women

a fact: this book’s publication was spurred on by the fact that Bell was the only women on the panel ‘PNG: A State of Writing’ at the 2016 Brisbane Writers Festival

 

want to read My Walk to Equality? visit here*

*Sorry for the Amazon link – it’s the only place I could access the book; please let me know if you find alternatives!