In the Body of the World
by Eve Ensler

Metropolitan Books - Henry Holt and Company, 2013. ISBN 978-0-805-09518-0.
Reviewed by Mary Jo Doig
Posted on 09/08/2013

Nonfiction: Memoir

"Eve Ensler has devoted her life to the female body: how to talk about it, how to protect and value it. Yet she spent much of her life disassociated from her own body—a disconnection brought on by her father's sexual abuse and her mother's remoteness." —Publisher

Prior to 2007, Ensler had visited more than 60 countries and witnessed endless young girls and women's stories about horrific abuse to their bodies. Then she got to the Congo where she heard "stories that shattered all the other stories." She felt she was seeing "...the end of the body, the end of humanity, the end of the world."

Profoundly affected by the horrific abuse to women, Ensler says:

"...I began to see the future—a monstrous vision of global disassociation and greed that not only allowed but encouraged the eradication of the female species in pursuit of minerals and wealth. But I found something else here as well. Inside these stories of unspeakable violence, inside the women of the Congo, was a determination and a life force I had never witnessed. There was grace and gratitude, fierceness and readiness. Inside this world of atrocities and horror was a red-hot energy on the verge of being born. The women had hunger and dreams, demands and a vision. They conceived of a place, a concept, called City of Joy. It would be their sanctuary. It would be a place of safety, of healing, of gathering strength, of coming together, of releasing their pain and trauma. A place where they would declare their joy and power. A place where they would rise as leaders."

Ensler and her team worked with UNICEF to make the vision a reality. Then, a few months before City of Joy was to open, Ensler was diagnosed with a huge uterine tumor.

"Cancer threw me through the window of my dissociation into the center of my body's crisis. The Congo threw me deep into the crisis of the world, and these two experiences merged as I faced the disease and what I felt was the beginning of the end."

The remainder of this stunning memoir records those merged journeys—the body, the self, the world—with words and metaphor so powerful, they may well take away your breath, as they did mine.

Ensler's book can easily be the most important book you read this year.

Listen to an excerpt from this book.

Eve Ensler is an internationally bestselling author and an award-winning playwright whose theatrical works include The Vagina Monologues, Necessary Targets, and The Good Body. She is the author of Insecure at Last, a political memoir, and I Am an Emotional Creature, a New York Times bestseller, which she has since adapted for the stage as Emotional Creature. Ensler is the founder of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised over $90 million for local groups and activists and inspired the global action "One Billion Rising," and she is one of Newsweek's 150 Women Who Changed the World. Eve Ensler lives in the world. Visit her website.

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