*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Rolami is a place of culture, tradition, and gods… and it’s a place where young women are circumcised.
Lami, a privileged daughter of a prominent chief, has avoided her forced circumcision for four seasons. But even though she’s powerful and determined, she can’t escape tradition forever. When her best friend returns from exile to comfort her, Lami discovers that the consequences of her culture’s cruel rites of passage are even worse than she had imagined.
Lami and her friends must fight to bring revolution to Rolami. But will their changes be for the better or the worse? That depends on who is telling the story and who is listening…
The Gods of Women Have Gone Mad is at once a raw and candid account of the horrors of female genital mutilation, a heartbreaking coming-of-age dystopian story, and powerful and moving tale of the indomitable spirit of women in the face of immense adversity.
Wole Akosile explores what happens when the hammer of change meets the anvil of tradition, and one woman is trapped between the two. But will Lami be forged and tempered into a stronger character, or broken… shattered by the powerful social forces on either side?
The subject matter here is very graphic, and the author does not shy away from presenting masturbation, suicidal thoughts and actions, violence and Female Genital Mutilation in language that is unflinchingly direct. The treatment of women in traditional cultural rituals is placed side by side with more modern ideas and beliefs, and we can clearly see how hard it is for the men and women sitting right on the cusp of societal change to see clearly or think dispassionately about such matters, when they are so deeply entrenched in their daily lives.
The story plunges straight into Lami’s worst moment, then follows her as she deals with the aftermath of what has been done to her, and the conflicted attitudes of those around her – even friends, family and her (modern-thinking) betrothed. We see how Lami’s society can simultaneously revere women in the form of the goddess they worship and the high-status elder women who perform their traditional rituals, but also how most women are treated as commodities to be bought, sold and beaten at a man’s whim, or rewards to be dished out to favoured men.
The information and the moral dilemmas the characters face are fascinating and the plot is gripping, but unfortunately the story ends rather abruptly just as it feels like it is really taking off. Loose ends are left trailing and the reader is left to decide the end results of Lami’s actions on her society. Personally I believe her bravery and moral strength deserved a hopeful ending, but I did want to see what would happen next.
This is quite a short novel, but brutal in its honestly about some of the suffering inflicted upon women in the name of the gods. So not a casual read but an important one, given the general lack of information around this topic.
The beautiful lady in ceremonial dress was Lami, the outspoken daughter of the respected village mediator and scribe, Magda. She had been vocal in her defiance of the circumcision ritual. It was the norm, a rarely questioned tradition, until Lami started to talk about it. Her speeches at the stream had given the other young women a new perspective. They had dared to dream, dared to hope things could change. She had tried to change the status quo. Alas! While there was nothing unusual about the ceremony itself, the person in question today made it something out of the ordinary. She had been defiant to this tradition.
– Wole Akosile, The Gods of Women Have Gone Mad
The Gods of Women Have Gone Mad is available on Amazon right now!