What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape
by Abdulali, Sohaila

1 Introduction
2 Who am I to talk?
3 Shut up or die, crazy bitch
4 Totally different, exactly the same
5 Yes, no, maybe
6 What did you expect?
7 Oh, please
8 How to save a life
9 The Abdulali guidelines for saving a rape survivor's life
10 The official version
11 Your love is killing me
12 A brief pause for horror
13 A bagful of dentures
14 Teflon Man
15 Keys to the kingdom
16 A brief pause for fury
17 Rx--polite conversation
18 All in the family
19 A brief pause for confusion
20 Stealing freedom, stealing joy
21 Lead weights for drowning
22 A brief pause for ennui
23 The quality of mercy
24 Your rape is worse than mine
25 Good girls don't
26 Rape prevention for beginners
27 Boys will ...
28 A brief pause for terror
29 The full catastrophe
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The acclaimed viral Mumbai journalist draws on personal experiences, inspiring survivor testimonies and meticulous research in an urgent call to action that illuminates the socio-economics and cultural realities of rape from the perspectives of survivors, counselors and activists.

Sohaila Abdulali was born in Mumbai. She has a BA from Brandeis University in economics and sociology and an MA from Stanford University in communication. She is the author of two novels as well as children’s books and short stories. She lives in New York with her family.

In 2013, Abdulali wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about her own experience of rape and its aftermath. This book expands that essay, examining rape and rape culture on a global level and in the wake of the #MeToo movement. In the three decades since her rape, Abdulali has worked at a rape crisis center, interviewed survivors from around the world, and written extensively on the topic. But her book is by no means meant to be the final word on rape; she intends, in fact, to start a dialogue. In the introduction, she admits that she may contradict herself but that hers is no simple topic, and individual experiences of and responses to rape vary dramatically. She writes in a conversational style and injects a levity that, rather than betraying the seriousness of her subject, makes it more possible to handle the necessary yet horrifying details of rape of all kinds. An important book working towards an important goal: meaningful and thoughtful discussion of a taboo subject. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

In an expansion of her popular 2013 New York Times op-ed, novelist and rape survivor Abdulali (Year of the Tiger, 2010, etc.) calls for franker conversation about rape.Modeling discourse about rape that is at once direct and nuanced, unblinking yet subtle, the author tackles the complexities of sexual violence head-on, rightly criticizing simplistic shibboleths. For example, she encourages survivors to talk about their rapes, yet she recognizes that "telling" is sometimes costly and "doesn't always come with a reward: comfort, closure, justice." (Abdulali acknowledges that when discussing her own rape, she has sometimes worried that people think she should just get over it.) The author insightfully asks whether the "yes means yes and no means no" model adequately accounts for a woman who "chooses" to be raped over being killed or a woman who "give[s] in" to a man who holds power in her professional world. Abdulali also calls attention to the "institutional…scaffolding" that allows "abuse to flourish"—e.g., the family systems, political and economic arrangements, and workplace norms that deprive women of meaningful agency and that sometimes reward women for going along with systems that are ultimately disempowering. The book is distinguished by its global view; Abdulali includes examples and illustrations from the United States but also from India, South Africa, and Egypt. There's a little bit of snark and dash of self-help. Spliced throughout are shorter chapters ("A brief pause for ennui," "A brief pause for confusion") that offer snapshots of the author's emotional landscape: a feeling of rage that overtakes her, seemingly out of nowhere, while attending a bat mitzvah, or her envy of writers who get to write about bird song and other happy topics while she's pondering brutality and violence ("Art! Joy! Life! It's so much more inviting than discussing getting gonorrhea from one's older brother or rape as a weapon of war"). Susan Bro w nmiller, vitally updated. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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