4/5 stars overall. Beautifully written and engaging.
Recommended to me by my friend and mentor Dr. Cindy LaCom, this book takes you on a journey to places I personally have never set foot or experienced. In a remote community around the Himalayas, Moso women in some ways, have more/different power than other women in the rest of the world. The household is sort of structured around women and they can take multiple lovers without the gaze of a judgmental other. They are self-sufficient within their large families. Marriage is not expected or encouraged and women’s lovers come to them at night and do not live with them. In this way, families are kept in tact and marriage does not “create” new ones. However, since this community is so very remote, sometimes people want to leave to have other experiences. Even though these instances are rare, that is the path of the main character, Namu.
I experienced this work in almost a dreamlike fashion and was able to find it very relatable even though my experiences are vastly different than what is described in this book. I can still relate to feeling prideful and not wanting to admit mistakes to my mother as well as the confusion attached to experiencing death/loss at a young age. The strength of the women described in this book are beyond comparison. It is truly awe-inspiring. The glimpse the reader gets of Namu’s mindset is so powerful. You see her inner struggle and turmoil relating to trying to juggle vastly different worlds and parts of herself (desires, traits, etc).
The Moso aren’t exactly matriarchal or even matrilineal. Women in a lot of ways are still unequal in my opinion. It seemed as though they could not pursue academics, or if they did, that was out of the ordinary. Additionally, while they did not appear to be shamed for being sexually active, I was disappointed to learn that talking about menstrual blood was shameful… even showing it to animals (yaks being sacred, etc). This bothered me but at the same time I suppose didn’t surprise me. I felt a sort of universal connection with women I have never met and a collective feeling of understood oppression in some ways. A custom of the Yi people was described in which a bride runs away for days from her new husband and tries to make it to her father’s house. If she makes it to her father’s house she is respected, but if she is found by the men chasing her she will be carried back to her husband. This angers me as it seems deeply objectifying.
The quote below I found very powerful:
But even catastrophes cannot last forever. Once the crops are devastated, the locusts move on.
Can this thing steal our souls? – Latsoma