Women's Worlds Book Club: The First Wife, by Paulina Chiziane (Mozambique)
Penn Book Center Reading Group, 2018
2017 changed the conversation for women. From the Women's March to #MeToo and everything beyond and in between, popular culture is coming to a reckoning and women's voices are raised louder and stronger than ever. In an era of growing political nationalism, we want to turn our ears to the words and voices of women beyond our land and language. From the Caribbean to South Africa to Northern Europe, here are women's voices that reverberate in and beyond our urgent moment.
All texts are from Archipelago Books, a not-for-profit literary press devoted to promoting cross-cultural exchange through innovative classics and contemporary international literature in translation.
All meetings will be on the third Saturday of the month at 3 pm. Coffee and snacks will be provided.
About The First Wife and Paulina Chiziane:
After twenty years of marriage, Rami discovers that her husband has been living a double—or rather, a quintuple—life. Tony, a senior police officer in Maputo, has apparently been supporting four other households for many years. Rami remains calm in the face of her husband’s duplicity, and plots to make an honest man out of Tony. After he is forced to marry the four other women—as well as an additional lover—through polygamist custom, the rival lovers join together to declare their voices and demand their rights. In this humorous and feverishly scathing critique, Mozambique’s first published female novelist explores her country’s tradition and culture, values and hypocrisy, and its subjection of women.
PAULINA CHIZIANE was born in 1955 in an area of Mozambique in which communication with the white colonizers was forbidden. In her mid-twenties she devoted herself to writing and became the first Mozambican woman with a published novel. When handed this title, however, she says she is not a novelist; “I am a storyteller…I take my inspiration from tales around the campfire, my first art school.” Her works explore themes of race, polygamy, colonization, and cultural change in her country.
Women's Worlds Year-Long Program
Dance on the Volcano, Marie Vieux-Chauvet (Haiti, French)
Love, Hanne Ørstavik (Norway, Norwegian)
Absolute Solitude: Poems, Dulce María Loynaz (Cuba, Spanish)
Moscow in the Plague Year: Poems, Marina Tsvetaeva (Russia, Russian)
Incest, Christine Angot (France, French)
The First Wife, Paulina Chiziane (Mozambique, Portuguese)
Pearls on a Branch, ed. Najla Khoury (Lebanon, Arabic)
The Expedition to the Baobab Tree, Wilma Stockström (South Africa, Afrikaans)
Dreams and Stones, Magdalena Tulli (Poland, Polish)
Cockroaches, Scholastique Mukasonga (Rwanda, French)
Angel of Oblivion, Maja Haderlap (Slovenia, German)
To Mervas, Elisabeth Rynell (Sweden, Swedish)