this is my third or so read of this book, so, not a first impression…
this is a maybe uncategorizable novel–it has SF elements, certainly (civilization on a distant planet), dystopian ones (a society in which women are veiled, largely uneducated, pretty much property although not called slaves), feminist ones in droves, and social commentary up the wazoo. so what is it?
i don’t know, but it’s unique, and it’s heartbreaking, and it will remain on my shelves forever.
as i read through this time, i kept up a running argument in my head with a young man of my acquaintance who resists fiercely the observations of feminism. that would never happen here, he says in my head. not possible, the legal system would never permit it, and so on. but many of these things have happened here, do happen here, will happen here.
tales like this and The Handmaid’s Tale are often dismissed as a form of literary hysteria–a collective female nightmare erupting into print. but women who pay attention will hear Irustani whispers in the daily news, in learned screeds, in voices both international and local. the issues the book covers, despite the Irustani setting, are endemic wherever there are humans.
some day i hope that this book will truly be an artifact, an anachronism.
i’m not holding my breath that it will happen in my lifetime.