Peach by Emma Glass review – turning anguish into art

Pain is a snare for women. If we don’t name the ways in which we are hurt – through male violence, harassment, rape – then we end up protecting those who hurt us. If we do, we risk becoming “wound dwellers”, as essayist Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams , was labelled by a boyfriend: accused of luxuriating in our injuries, defining ourselves by them. Worse, there’s a tradition of using the fact of female pain as proof that women deserve to suffer. Genesis tells us Eve’s labour pangs are a punishment for her temptation of Adam; today, if a woman says she was assaulted, many will insist that it only happened because she’s a slut. In the backwards logic of a just-so story, our pain isn’t a testament to our experiences, but to a corruption we must be punished for. Even so, women keep going back to the subject of pain, trying to find a way around the trap. Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing forged a language of woundedness that was fractured, distinctive and brutalising. Han Kang, in Deborah Smith’s translation, brought a gothic extremity to the subject in The Vegetarian . In both […]

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