My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Conjuring Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, BEFORE SHE SLEEPS: A Novel (Delphinium Books/distributed by HarperCollins; August 7, 2018) by internationally renowned author Bina Shah, takes the parable of women selected for breeding to a terrifying new level. In this dystopian thriller, women in the Middle East and South Asia have had their numbers drastically reduced by war, gender selection and disease making the ratio of women to men alarmingly low. The consequence is that women must take multiple husbands in order to produce more female children.
But not all women agree to submit. A female collective in Green City live in a dark underworld known as the Panah, emerging only at night to provide a commodity that nobody can buy: intimate, non-sexual companionship. But not even the most influential men of Green City can shield the women of the Panah from discovery and the dangers of ruthless punishment.
BEFORE SHE SLEEPS, written by one of Pakistan’s most talented writers, takes the patriarchal practices of female seclusion and veiling, gender selection and control over women’s bodies, and amplifies and distorts them in a truly terrifying way to envision a world of post-religious authoritarianism over women’s lives.
BINA SHAH is an author of English fiction and a journalist living in Karachi, Pakistan. She is the author of four novels and two collections of short stories includingSlum Child, which was a bestseller in Italy. A regular contributor to the International New York Times, she is a provocative and bold commentator for the international press on Pakistan’s society, culture and women’s rights. Her most recent novel, A Season for Martyrs, originally published by Delphinium in 2014, was published in France and India in 2016. She is a graduate of Wellesley College, the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an alumna of the International Writers Program at the University of Iowa.
BEFORE SHE SLEEPS
By Bina Shah
Delphinium Books/distributed by Harper Collins; August 7, 2018
$25 US/$30 CAN; 256 pages
#FirstLine ~ Sabine: I make it a rule to always leave the Client's house in the darkest part of the morning, the half hour before dawn, when the night's at its thickest and the Agency Officers are at their slowest.
I enjoyed this powerful novel that takes you out of your comfort zone and propels you into a thoughtful and thought provoking story that draws on themes that will resonates with readers. You cannot help but be drawn into this new world, this new reality. This novel turns you upside down and causes you to think, really think, about what you would do if this situation would occur in today's time. You cannot help but be moved to have strong thoughts about the themes in this story. A great book for book clubs and one you will want to talk to others about.