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The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
by Meg Elison


Overview -

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016 and Philip K. Dick Award Winner

When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth's population--killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant--the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one.  Read more...


 
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More About The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison
 
 
 
Overview

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016 and Philip K. Dick Award Winner

When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth's population--killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant--the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power--and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men's clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she'll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.


 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781503939110
  • ISBN-10: 1503939111
  • Publisher: 47north
  • Publish Date: October 2016
  • Page Count: 291
  • Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.7 pounds

Series: Road to Nowhere

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Science Fiction - Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
Books > Fiction > Science Fiction - Action & Adventure

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-10-24
  • Reviewer: Staff

Elison's gripping and grim first novel, which won the Philip K. Dick Award in its previous, small press publication, tells the story of an unnamed woman who survives a plague that wipes out most of humankind in just weeks, leaving 10 male survivors for every woman. Years after the initial wave of the terrible disease, all pregnancies still end in the death of the baby, and most also kill the mother. Told by turns through the diary of the protagonist, the diaries of other survivors, and third-person narration, the tale covers her several years of wandering, dressed as a man, from San Francisco, where she had worked as a nurse and midwife, through the dangerous, near-empty western U.S., where marauding groups of men try to enslave any woman they meet or are occasionally recruited into polyamorous "hives" dominated by one alpha woman. Eventually, she finds a stable, caring community where the inhabitants allow their members to find their own appropriate gender roles; at last she can live without fear, be the person she wants to be, and practice her trade for the betterment of everyone. The story is beautifully written in a stripped down, understated way, though frequently gruesome in its depiction of rapes, murders, and stillbirths. The protagonist, who sometimes calls herself Karen, or Dusty, or Jane, is beautifully realized as a middle-aged, bisexual woman with considerable skills, an indomitable will, and great adaptability, though she suffers considerably and is far from a superwoman. A prologue and an epilogue set long after the events of the main narrative (and reminiscent of the concluding chapter of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale) hint at a positive future, leaving the reader with a glimmer of optimism in the midst of despair. This fine tale should particularly appeal to readers of earlier feminist dystopias such as The Handmaid's Tale, Suzy McKee Charnas's Walk to the Edge of the World series, and P.D. James's The Children of Men. Many questions are left unanswered at the book's end, but a sequel is forthcoming. (Oct.)

 
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