Prestige and Prejudice in Publishing Prizes: The Man Booker Longlist

The Man Booker Longlist 2017 was announced on 26 July and book bloggers, vloggers and reviewers alike have raised the debate again of whether these awards really matter. Being the unique snowflake that I am, here is my tuppence-worth on the subject (I’m British, we say tuppence, not two cents).

For those of you outside the book-nerd sphere, it’s like a really niche version of the Oscar’s but for publishing.

First of all, the books:

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My initial response was surprise at the fact that I had heard of nine of the thirteen books before. This never happens to me; I’m usually left feeling out of the publishing loop when I’m faced with the usual list of obscure authors and titles. Even more exciting is that of those nine, I wanted to read five of them anyway, which were The Underground Railroad, Swing Time, Autumn, Exit West, and 4 3 2 1. Now that I’ve had a look at the blurbs, I’m considering picking up The Ministry of Utmost Happiness and Home Fire.

Why is this surprising? Because ever since I became aware of the Man Booker Prize, it’s felt too high-brow, too “literary” and just outright unreachable for me. The books are traditionally presented as tomes of great merit, only for the most intelligent readers. I’ve been convinced that I just won’t “get” what they’re trying to say or do and therefore have shied away from trying out the titles that are new to me.

This is irrational, obviously. Why, of all things, should I fear a list of books? Maybe it’s just the aura of prestige that surrounds the prize. I have a mental image of the judges discussing the list in hushed tones in an old-fashioned parlour room with leather armchairs, a fireplace and portraits of lords and ladies. In reality, their decisions are probably made within the depths of Gmail.

Literary prizes in general have only come to my attention in the past few years, from the Pulitzer to the Women’s Prize for Fiction, of which I’ve reviewed the 2017 winner. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those people who reads their longlists every year without fail, just because they’re in the running for a prestigious prize. However, it’s been interesting to be part of the conversation about why these books in particular are considered the best in publishing over the last twelve months.

For instance, some authors seem to crop up time and time again on the Man Booker lists, like Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, Mohsin Hamid and Sebastian Barry. Does the fact they’ve been on it before make their chances of being considered in the future more likely? Are debut authors less likely to make their way onto the list? By including more familiar names, does it make the prize appear more authoritative, because if they’re already successful writers, they will surely produce the best books? Like with most things, I haven’t got a clue, but the marketability of certain names could influence the way the lists are chosen.

We can’t ignore that literature is inherently subjective and every reading experience will differ. So how can we judge thirteen books that are so different from one another in everything from subject to narrative style?

And then, the big question in entertainment: does it promote diversity of gender, race and sexuality, in both the authors and the characters? Is this something that should come into our judgement, or should we look at the books in isolation, regardless of context and representation? Diversity is highly topical, especially in publishing, right now and I can’t help but wonder how this impacts long-running prizes like the Man Booker.

I think that the Man Booker Prize has influenced what my TBR is looking like, so perhaps what matters most is that it is promoting literature to the public that they may not have come across before or weren’t sure about reading. I’m not going to read them all because a few of them sound like the furthest thing from my taste, but I’ll be intrigued to see who wins. I’ll be even more intrigued to see the subsequent analysis of why they won, because you can guarantee that someone will be unhappy about it. This is where diversity comes back to the forefront; if they are deemed representative of one group, they’ll be criticised for excluding another. Take Days Without End, a story that explores a gay relationship. I haven’t read it, but what if it doesn’t talk about women, or non-white people? Does that make it less worthy of winning?

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Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, which I read and reviewed in July, discusses diversity in film awards, but it’s applicable to literature too. She says that as soon as something is highlighted as “diverse”, it suddenly carries a huge burden as it is seen as representative of all diversity. What this means is that if the story, the director or the cast are outside of Hollywood’s standard narrative (not white, not male, not straight etc.), it becomes the flag-bearer for who they are representing. If it fails, then it sets a precedent that anything like it will also fail, and the industry refuses to invest in more “experimental” films that look at diversity. It’s a lot of pressure for a two-hour film, or a 300 page paperback.

Think of Wonder Woman. Thankfully, it blew the box office numbers out of the water but if it had been a flop, the response would be that people just don’t want female superheroes at all.

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One movie was responsible for whether or not more women would be written into roles like that. I’m not explaining it very well, so I strongly recommend picking up her essay collection. She’s much more succinct and actually makes sense.

All in all, a film, TV show or book can’t be everything for everyone. It’s only one voice, telling one story at a single point in time. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s amazing TED talk, ‘The Danger of a Single Story’ is a must-watch, as I know that I have made a hash-job of this.

I’m excited that the the longlist this year has such a wide range of voices. My eyes have been opened to new authors and new perspectives. Of course, I love reading diversely so I will appreciate and applaud diversity if I see it in the longlisted works. What I have to make sure of, is that I don’t think it’s good literature just because of the representativeness, but in the book’s own right.

Do you take notice of literary prizes? And what should a book have to be a winner?

Best wishes,

Siobhán

Review | July Wrap Up

Read a lot on feminism and death this month. Nothing quite like some light, easy ‘beach reads’, hey?

Side note: I think I may need to do my August wrap-up in two parts because I seem to be powering through my reading pile at the moment. Also, is anyone else terrified that we’re already into the eighth month of 2017?

Look At Me | Jennifer Egan

514 pages | Constable and Robinson | 2.75 stars

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One sentence summary: After a car accident, model Charlotte Swenson has to undergo facial surgery which results in an entirely new identity for her.

I got a hybrid of Glamorama/The Circle vibes from this one. The idea of image being everything as well as being constantly monitored… These are all topics I’ve been absorbed in when I’ve been reading before. However,Egan didn’t do anything particularly new with it. It was a great commentary, but one I’ve heard before. An entertaining, engaging reading experience though. I definitely want to pick up more of her work – A Visit from the Goon Squad maybe?

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Being Mortal | Atul Gawande

304 pages | Wellcome Books | 4 stars

One sentence summary: A surgeon wonders about how we die, the limitations of medicines, and also its failures.

Following on from When Breath Becomes Air, I was delighted to find this for £2.49 in a charity shop after almost buying it full price in Waterstones about a day before. I have become really intrigued in the medical and philosophical intersections when it comes to what gives life – and death – meaning. Atul Gawande did not disappoint and I have underlined so many quotes, particularly in the sections about how deplorably we treat the elderly. The minor criticism I have is that although he was making very good points, he mentioned them at the end of every chapter without much development, so it began to feel repetitive. I wrote a (somewhat depressing) post recently that was pretty much based upon what I got from this book.

We Need To Talk About Kevin | Lionel SchriverWe-Need-to-Talk-About-Kevin1

468 pages | Serpent’s Tail | 3 stars

One sentence summary: A woman recounts how her son went on a shooting spree at the age of fifteen.

It’s been criticised for being over-written and yeah, I can see that. Everything is analysed in minute detail, which slows the pace right down. I liked this though; I thought it was disconcerting for Eva to be considering the smallest, most inconsequential things with the same intensity as the horrific acts of the shooting.

51oUoRV4baL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_No Matter The Wreckage | Sarah Kay 

133 pages | Write Bloody Publishing | 4 stars, maybe 4.5

One sentence summary: A poetry collection about family, love, travel and everything in between.

I love watching videos of Sarah Kay performing her poems. She has a way of making words that are already beautiful on the page, even more magical. I don’t care if I’m gushing, I’m an unapologetic fangirl. Her language is gorgeous but not overdone or suffocating. A lot of poets seem to love the enter/tab key, but her structure felt like it had purpose. Read them aloud. Poems are meant to live outside of their ink.

Us | David Nicholls 41q3EXhejkL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_

396 pages | Hodder | 3.5 stars

One sentence summary: A man tries to put his family back together by organising one last travel adventure.

You know when you enjoy the actual process of reading a book? It’s not because it’s well-crafted or poignant or your eyes are opened to another world, but just enjoying each page in that moment? This book did exactly that for me. David Nicholls writes with clarity and constructs such realistic plot, dialogue and narrative that this was just a pleasure to sit down with and get absorbed by. It also helps that he was looking at how the idea of travel being hugely redemptive and life-changing is pretty inaccurate, because it’s similar to something I’m currently working on. Which means this definitely counts as research, right?

41g5DNEjxrL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_The Gender Games: The Problem with Men and Women, from Someone Who Has Been Both | Juno Dawson 

368 pages | Two Roads | ? stars

One sentence summary: Based on Juno’s experiences in society’s ideas of man and woman, this looks at gender and how that negatively affects everyone.

I feel like I should have fallen head over heels for this book but there was something missing. It was really interesting to hear firsthand what it is really like, mentally and physically, to have transitioned from male to female. Maybe it was the fact that Juno writes like she’s chatting to you at a bar rather than writing a study of gender. Although it makes it accessible, it’s just a narrative style that personally doesn’t work for me. Regardless of that, it has made me reconsider the way I talk about people, particularly with pronoun use and stereotyping roles.

Bad Feminist: Essays | Roxane Gay Z_feminist

320 pages | Corsair | 4 stars

One sentence summary: Essays on race and gender in all spheres of life – politics, film, literature, social media…

Another book about gender, I know. This one felt more up my street in terms of narrative voice and I have underlined so much from each essay. Roxane Gay is articulate in her arguments and examines intersectionality better than any other writer I’ve encountered so far. Of course I don’t agree with everything she says but that’s kind of the point: we’re all bad feminists, but as long as we’re trying our best, then that’s okay.

Currently reading: 

Exit West | Mohsin Hamid
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat | Oliver Sacks

What was your favourite book you read in July?

Best wishes,

Siobhán

June Reading Wrap-Up

June was a good reading month for me. I’ve been lucky that some of the books I’ve been picking up lately have been exactly the right thing at the right time. I definitely don’t have the time to go into them all fully in a blog post, but if you follow me on Goodreads, I update it pretty much every day with my initial thoughts and ratings. On top of that, I’ve finished my 2017 reading challenge of forty books already – don’t ask how!

This month I read:

The Blazing World | Siri Hustvedt 

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384 pages | Sceptre Books | 3 stars

 

One sentence summary: An artist conducts an experiment by concealing her female identity in three pieces of art under male names.

An interesting commentary on gender discrimination in the art world and I loved how we never fully knew the truth as it was narrated from a variety of perspectives piecing together their parts of the story.

 

The Mirror World of Melody Black | Gavin Extence

294 pages | Hodder & Stoughton | 3 stars

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One sentence summary: An account of a woman’s mental illness growing increasingly worse.

I preferred his first novel, The Universe Versus Alex Woods, but the author definitely captures the darkness of depression whilst also managing to mix in some black humour; he doesn’t shy away from anything but he isn’t gratuitous or romantic about mental illness.

 

 

On The Road | Jack Kerouackerouac

281 pages | Penguin | 2 stars

One sentence summary: Sal Paradise travels across America during the height of 1950s Beat generation with his idol, Dean Moriarty.

I surely must have missed something because I cannot understand why this is some people’s favourite book. I usually like flawed characters because they can be well-rounded and realistic, but Sal was just irritating.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe | Benjamin Alire Sáenz

359 pages | Simon Schuster | 3.5 stars

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One sentence summary: Ari and Dante form a friendship one summer that is challenged and strengthened as they come of age.

I haven’t read YA in a while, and I haven’t read good YA in even longer, but this book just nails it with two incredibly well-written characters, an engaging plot and the right balance of hope and angst.

 

 

The Edible Woman | Margaret Atwoodatwood

354 pages | Virago | 4 stars

One sentence summary: You can’t summarise this book properly at all, because “a woman who awaits marriage develops an inability to eat” doesn’t even scrape the surface.

This reminded me a little of The Vegetarian by Han Kang in its clever depiction of the relationship between food and the mind. I love Atwood’s writing and I will definitely be returning this because I feel that with each read, I’ll notice another layer to this novel.

On Writing | Stephen King

384 pages | Hodder & Stoughton | 2 stars

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One sentence summary: A memoir and writing craft guide in one, describing Stephen King’s life experiences with childhood, family and publishing.

I’ve never read any of his work before but people kept recommending this book for the writing craft sections, but it just felt like he was stating the obvious. The memoir was definitely 2/3 of the book to 1/3 of advice.

 

 

No Is Not Enough | Naomi Klein naomiklein

pages | Allen Lane | 4 stars

One sentence summary: How shock political tactics have been and will be used to push through radical policies.

This was impressively coherent, contemporary and concise in the way it addressed very immediate issues like Trump and Brexit. What I liked most was that it wasn’t just an analysis of our political situation, but also offered solutions which I found refreshing in a book like this.

Nina Is Not Ok | Shappi Khorsandi

352 pages | Ebury Press | 3.75 stars

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One sentence summary: 17-year-old Nina blacks out one Saturday night and her life spirals out of control as alcohol takes over.

I liked this more than I thought I would. I expected it would be an easy read but it addresses big issues like alcoholism, sexuality and rape with honesty and tact.

 

 

 

When Breath Becomes Air | Paul Kalanithi breathair

225 pages | Vintage | 4.5 stars

One sentence summary: A neurosurgeon documents his thoughts on mortality, and what it’s like to go from doctor to patient when he is diagnosed with lung cancer.

My heart shattered with every page. Paul Kalanithi is a scientist, a poet and a philosopher. I was ready to start it again as soon as I finished it on my lunch break, although I was at work and I got a bit emotional.

 

I’m currently reading The Night Brother by Rosie Garland but I know I won’t finish it before the end of June. It’s a new release that came out this month and has a distinctly Gothic, mystical atmosphere thus far so I’m excited to see how it pans out.

What did you read this month?

Best wishes,

Siobhán

Review | Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction WINNER

The Power by Naomi Alderman was announced as the overall winner for the 2017 prize tonight and luckily for me, it’s the only one from the shortlist that I actually read. Whoops.

I was watching Lauren Whitehead’s live Instagram feed when it was announced and everyone seemed really surprised this one won over Madeleine Thien’s Do Not Say We Have Nothing or Ayòbámi Adébáyò’s Stay With Me, which suggests to me that I at least need to give these two a read at some point. Despite not being able to review it in comparison to the rest of the shortlist, The Power is undoubtedly a book I would recommend, regardless of whether it had won or not. (The other three were First Love by Gwendoline RileyThe Sport of Kings by C. E. Morgan, and The Dark Circle by Linda Grant)

The basic premise is a novel set in the future and presented like a history. Young girls start to involuntarily unleash an ancient electrical power, making them physically stronger than men. What ensues is a complete 180 on how society is structured and an examination of what would happen if women had (quite literally) the power in the world.

Starting with the only real issue I had with it was that some of the scenes were described in graphic detail. I’m not sure if it’s just my personal reaction but I did squirm a few times and feel pretty uncomfortable. However, with a story like this, that’s probably what the author wanted – I mean, it’s not supposed to be a fluffy, comforting read.9780670919963

It’s been compared to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and I guess I can see why in how it explores feminism through dystopia. The idea of physicality determining who controls society is an interesting suggestion; it implies that the reason we live in a patriarchy harks back to animalistic qualities such as strength rather than abstract, ‘civilised’ notions like money or education. I’m not sure if I agree with that being the only factor but it certainly made me consider exactly what defines power dynamics in modern day life.

You make think this seems like an awful lot to cover in just one novel and I’d agree with you there. The pacing was fast and we’re only offered snippets of the characters’ lives over a long period of time which I know a lot of reviewers have criticised. I actually thought this was incredibly clever of Alderman, as it meant she was able to cover the effects of the phenomenon in both individual communities and globally. Different societies react in different ways, from trying to tame the power in schools to a complete political breakdown. Once women are given a tool to fight with, the way they respond based upon their various life experiences was fascinating, and I don’t think the novel could have achieved that scope without shifting between narratives. The fact that I was thrown from perspective to perspective actually added to the escalating nature of the power, and flung me straight into the action. It was a smart stylistic device rather than a fault in pacing for me.

If you love feminism and/or speculative fiction, then why haven’t you picked this up already?! It’s a great one to fly through and it’ll keep you on your toes, because I was absorbed from page one to the final chapter.

Have you read any of the Baileys Shortlist? Who do you think should have won?

Best wishes,

Siobhán

May Reading Wrap-Up

Now that I’ve finished second year, I can finally read what I want without feeling guilty about neglecting my required module texts – yay! Instead of tackling the growing pile of unread books on my shelves, I bought four new ones and read them this month. Oops.

Finally, a cheeky promo – feel free to add me as a friend on Goodreads as I am constantly updating what I’m currently reading there.

How To Be Both | Ali Smith

372 pages | Penguin | Rating: 3 stars

25371939Summary: An experimental novel of two perspectives: an artist in the 1460s, and a child of a child of the 1960s. The narratives unknowingly reflect and influence one another in this novel about the relationship between the past and present.

That is probably the crudest description I have ever given of a book, and that’s because it’s impossible to summarise just what it is that Ali Smith has given us. It defies categorisation of any kind; from gender to narrative style to characterisation, everything is fluid. This is not a book that you can skim over in one sitting. Instead, take the time to absorb every word as it is clear that the author wrote each one deliberately. Every sentence has weight and meaning, and nothing is there to fill the gaps. What we are left with is a work that makes you do just that: work. Some people will love it, some people won’t even be able to finish the first part.

 

Homegoing | Yaa Gyasi

320 pages | Viking | Rating: 3 stars

51ChYVhSoDL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Summary: A novel which spans generations and an ocean, beginning with Effia and Esi on the Gold Coast of Africa. It follows their descendants navigating three continents, with each chapter focusing on a different character’s story to tell the narrative of the slave trade and its lasting impact.

This book had a lot of hype and I think it ruined it for me. I expected something earth-shattering and heart-breaking that stuck with me after I’d read the final page but in reality, I can barely remember the individual stories. Maybe this is because it jumped so quickly from character to character that I didn’t have time to really connect with them? I found myself having to refer to the family tree at the front of the book every time I started a new chapter because I couldn’t remember what had happened or who was who’s descendant. What I got from Homegoing wasn’t a close relationship with individuals but an overall impression of how the slave trade’s legacy is still present in modern society. It was a great study of underlying prejudices in society in general, but if you asked me to remember the exact narrative, I’d be pretty stuck.

 

Not That Kind of Girl | Lena Dunham

265 pages | Fourth Estate | Rating: 3.5 stars

81ZqOFyzSjLSummary: A collection of essays and stories from Lena Dunham’s life so far, covering everything from the TV industry to in-depth recounts of her sex life to dealing with mental health.

People have perfectly valid reasons to dislike Lena Dunham. She’s very outspoken and her feminism is viewed feels very exclusively white and middle-class. I picked this up after binge-watching her TV series Girls and falling in love with how brutally honest she can be. The way I read this was that she was writing from her position about her situation, and not trying to speak for anyone else. In that sense, it was like I had sat down with her for a drink and she was telling me stories that most people wouldn’t dream of ever admitting. I laughed in public when I was reading this book, which earned me some funny looks. Upon finishing this, I felt like all the things I consider to be my weird quirks are actually probably normal. I reckon she’d be an incredibly interesting individual to meet in person (can someone arrange this or?).

 

The Circle | Dave Eggers

528 pages | Penguin | Rating 2.75 stars

9780385351409_p0_v3_s1200x630Summary: Mae is hired by the Circle, the world’s largest internet company, which promotes transparency and connectivity. However, the further she delves into the world of the Circle, she discovers there is more to it than meets the eye.

There’s a movie adaptation of this coming out starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, which is what brought it to my attention in the first place. The concept of connecting all aspects of our lives through this one medium, the Circle, isn’t far from the way we use our online profiles now, so it felt scarily relevant. However, Dave Eggers really dragged it out to fill approximately 500 pages. It seriously did not need to be that long as I’d worked out where this was going about 200 pages in. I think it would have had more impact if it had been a short, sharp narrative, but then again the slow-building narrative does seem more reflective of the way the Circle works… Maybe I’m undecided on that point still. The characters were flat, especially Mae. Oh my god, I wanted to knock her out of her kayak and leave her in the sea so many times. The concept was clever and highly relevant, but the execution just felt a bit lacking.

 

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman 

499 pages | Penguin | 3.75 stars41jWdXkLySL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_

A look at how we think, judge and make decisions, as well as advice on when to trust our intuitions and when to check our mental processes.

That’s probably the most painfully brief summary in the history of book reviews. The introduction alone is so intelligent and filled to the brim with interesting ideas, evidence and evaluations, so it is impossible to condense the contents into a crude sentence or two. Kahneman is clearly very accomplished and highly intellectual, so don’t expect a book with incredible prose; it is as scientific in style as it is in subject. It was also a slow read for me as it is so dense and my brain needed a bit of a break after every section. However, once I wrapped my head around the statistics (I am not mathematically inclined whatsoever), it became clear just how applicable his studies are, from every day life to the stock market to politics. This one is hard work but worth it in the end.

Have you read any of these books and what did you think of them? Did you read anything good this month? Recommend me some more titles to add to my Amazon wish list!

Best wishes,

Siobhán

 

Side note: the way I rate means that I rarely give 5 stars unless it was mind-blowing and potentially making its way onto my list of all-time favourites. 
4 stars = amazing book that has minor flaws or is just missing something, even if I don’t know what that something is. 
3 stars = above average, really enjoyed it but I had a few problems with it. 
2 stars = some redeeming qualities but just not doing it for me. 
1 star = complete and utter waste of my time, the publisher’s time, the author’s time…

Review | The Handmaid’s Tale Episode 1

Confession time: I haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. 

This is obviously nowhere near as shocking as if I had announced I am pregnant with quintuplets or that I don’t know who Beyonce is, but it feels like a personal failure that I haven’t picked this book up yet. I’ve even read the likes of The Power by Naomi Alderman and Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill which have both been compared to Atwood’s novel.

Furthermore, I’ve committed the ultimate reader sin of watching the TV show before reading the book. And I would be ashamed except the first episode of Hulu’s adaptation (shown on Channel 4 here in the UK) was so good.

Before watching it, I had a fairly solid idea of the premise from the amount of times I had come across the book and its blurb. Just a quick heads up that this will be a pretty spoiler-filled review of the first episode, but not of the whole story because I don’t know it myself yet. Here are just a few of my thoughts – I had to condense my original notes quite a lot as there was so much to talk about!

So, we’re thrown straight into the action with shaky camera, sirens and a sense of panic, although it isn’t revealed what about. I think that dystopians always work best this way, rather than explaining the history before entering the narrative. It forces you to adjust and puts the viewer/reader in a tentative state of temporary ignorance. The flashbacks worked well to drip-feed little bits of the past and provide clarity without an information dump, although they began to feel too frequent as the episode went on. Personally, that’s how I like to experience these future worlds – with the same sense of unease and uncertainty as the main character. The constant switching of the two timelines of past and present threw me a little as I couldn’t become fully immersed in either timeframe. That’s a very small fault I found with the storytelling though.

I first encountered Elisabeth Moss as Peggy Olson in Mad Men, who I loved, and she proves her acting abilities and versatility as Offred. Her narration works incredibly well – she’s funny and sarcastic in her thoughts, whilst her speech is brief and submissive:
Ofglen: Offred? Are you okay?
Offred: Yes. (pious little shit) Very well, thank you.
Her quick-witted, biting internal dialogue instantly made me love her character. 

The handmaids’ outfits were somewhat disconcerting in contrast to the modern setting of the supermarket and surrounded by the advanced technology of machine guns.

What this episode really succeeded in was subtlety. We didn’t need Offred to tell us that being gay was considered a crime when we saw the hanged men. We didn’t need to be told that women were denied access to simple education because there were pictures instead of words on products and signs. I don’t like being spoon-fed dystopian societies, but instead prefer to discover them for myself, as it just further underlines what has become the norm for the characters.

Religion was an interesting factor. They’re told that ‘fertility is a gift directly from God’, and ‘praise be’ is an automatic response. I’ll be intrigued to see how this plays out in the rest of the series. I couldn’t help recoiling when the religious readings played over the scene when Offred is used for sex; the juxtaposition was jarring at the very least. And so creepy.

When they pointed their fingers and chanted at the poor girl in the middle that it was ‘her fault’… It just reminded me of a physical representation of online slut-shaming, when comments section are flooded with similar words and women are blamed for their bodies.

It feels like I’ve only skimmed the surface of what this episode had to offer, let alone the whole series. I am even more inclined to read the book now as I can only imagine that, as the original text, Margaret Atwood’s work has a much more fleshed-out, in-depth explanation of Offred’s world. That’s the biggest aspect that has got me hooked: I am desperate to find out more about how this society came into being. The links that are frighteningly close to our culture, like the slut-shaming comparison, make me feel like I have so much more to learn from this story. On a final note, I nearly cheered when Samira Wiley came on screen and the whole show just became even better due to her mere presence. I have an embarrassingly huge crush on her ever since seeing her in Orange Is The New Black.

Have you watched the first episode yet? Or have you actually read the book? What do you think of the adaptation? 

Best wishes,

Siobhán