“ I wild” begins like a fairy tale. It is about Mireille, who was kidnapped and held captive in the Haitian slums in thirteen days. And the victim of exactly what you can imagine happening a woman who is kidnapped and locked with seven men. Though even worse.
Miri has left the safe life as a lawyer in Miami to visit family in Haiti. In Port-au-Prince live parents with teak, marble and servants, surrounded by guards with automatic weapons, a wall against the impoverished desperation outside. When she is kidnapped in front of her baby and husband refuses his father pay the ransom of one million dollars, because he does not want to encourage the kidnappers to steal more family members.
In order to survive the brutal sexual violence she was subjected to blur Miri out the memories of her husband, Michael, Christophe child and herself – until she is “no”. The breasts, which ached with milk, dry up eventually.
In captivity “wild state” becomes both the perpetrators as Mireille and her husband – powerless in their parents’ palace – the wildlife. They fight, foam at the mouth in their captivity, untamed, just like the original title “Un untamed state” suggests.
All we are sitting in our cage, the author seems to suggest, even if some of them are gilded. Can true freedom exist in a hierarchical society? Racism, gender, economic and social structures. Everything keeps us captive, in his own way.
Roxane Gay teach in fiction writing and often appear as cultural critics in prestigious American newspapers. She has many devoted followers on Twitter and has become a prominent figure in the recent years intersectional debate.
2014 was proclaimed Roxane Gays year in Time magazine. It made me a bit scared before this book. Should politics stand in the way of creativity? Already after the first page let my fears. Gays policy analysis sharpens rather than dulls her novel. It offers no easy answers, which allows it to grow and become, well, extremely well. Again and again, I find myself reading several pages without breathing.
The depiction of Haiti – Gays parents’ homeland – is complex and full of love-hate. The meeting between Miri and her worst perpetrators, “master” – born into the gutter – is so complicated that I have to use every last brain cell to take in everything. What responsibility do Miri and other rich of poverty as they do not try to change?
The relationship between Miri and her father Sebastien is sharp, vivid and difficult. His father grew up in the slums, but managed to work his way up in the US by (symbolically) to build skyscrapers, to eventually return to their home country, and where to live like a king. Miri is expected to be grateful for the sacrifices their parents made for her. At the same time, it is precisely the abundance that makes her kidnapped.
Although tensions – that is about sex as well as origin – between Miri and her white, homegrown farm boy to man is complex portrayed. But here’s a small complaint – perhaps my only. Love relationship has stereotypical elements in a way that stands out in the otherwise so nuanced story. Gay has repeatedly expressed its weakness for romantic comedies and television channel Lifetimes movies, and that is exactly what I will think about the portrayal of the relationship, which feels as taken from a Sidney Sheldon novel. He is muscular with flowing blond hair, she is dark, beautiful and pretty. She throws things, he is faithful and assiduous.
With that said, it is fascinating to follow Miris development of the relationship, from that she grew up in a family where it is difficult to show emotion, that she after the kidnapping and “death” are forced to examine their relationships, break the silence against those she loves and be more honest with their feelings.
the book moves happily right there, in the unspoken. The great gamble in the question: when do we tell the truth, to be honest with those we love?
The book’s absolute strength is in how sexual violence is not treated sensational, like a tickling detail for the reader, and then left with the assumption that all live happily ever after. It does not stop to Miri released from the kidnapping and rapes ceases. Not even when she is free, she is free.
She does not trust the priest, not the doctor or even their sleep. Or himself, with his children. Sexual violence she suffered ärrar her forever.
Gays message to the reader is relentless and unbearable relevant. As she writes in the essay collection “Bad Feminist,” which came in Swedish last year: “We are fooling ourselves to think that one can wash away a rape just as neat and tidy as on television and in the movies, where offerskapets progress is neatly defined.”
In the essay, she asks the question how to write about violence, but that it becomes speculative. In “In the wild”, we have the answer. Just like this.