Feminist movements across the world have made undeniably significant strides in the last century. But in spite of this, women and mothers—even in the countries considered the most liberated—must contend with their value being contingent on physical appearance, youth, and their willingness to self-efface in the company of men. Women’s rights activist and bestselling novelist Leïla Slimani’s arresting 2018 book The Perfect Nanny, about a nanny who murders the children she cares for, was “a fantastically well-wrought portrait of social, economic—and ultimately moral—distress and deprivation” (The Guardian), and her recent novel In the Country of Others “lays bare women’s intimate, lacerating experience of war and its consequent trauma” (The New York Times). 2020 saw the first English-language release of a novel by Akutagawa Prize-winning writer Mieko Kawakami—a “literary sensation” who “writes with unsettling precision about the female body” (The New York Times). That book, Breasts and Eggs, was one of TIME’s “Best 10 Books of 2020,” celebrated by the publication for its “stirring look at the expectations put on women by the world and by themselves.” Kawakami’s latest novel, All the Lovers in the Night, was published in early May. Join these two groundbreaking authors as they discuss the paradoxical standards of contemporary womanhood and residual spheres of domesticity that continue to resist obsolescence. This conversation will be moderated by novelist and New Yorker staff writer Rivka Galchen, author of the recently published Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch.
This program will be presented with the support of Villa Albertine, in partnership with the French Embassy.