Sometimes, I wish I listened to people.
In 2011, when Elif Shafak’s Black Milk:On Writing, Motherhood, and the Harem Within first came out, someone urged to to read it so forcefully and vehemently that I, um, well, didn’t. Because I’m like that. Tell me, “You should do this,” and that pretty much guarantees I won’t.
My loss. And because I suspect you might be like me, I won’t tell you that if you’re a mother and a writer or artist, YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK.
I’ll just remind you that I introduced you to Elif Shafak when I discovered The Forty Rules of Love earlier this month.
And this memoir is beautiful and heartbreaking and heartfilling and all the things.
This is the official “blurb” on Amazon, which, to me, is a really good illustration of how trad’ houses don’t understand what makes a good blurb at all:
A thoughtful and incisive meditation on literature, motherhood, and spiritual wellbeing from Turkey’s leading female author
After the birth of her first child, Elif Shafak experienced a profound personal crisis. Plagued by guilt, anxiety, and bewilderment about her new maternal role, the acclaimed novelist stopped writing for the first time in her life. As she plummeted into post-partum depression, Shafak looked to the experiences of other prominent female writers—including Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir, and Alice Walker—for help navigating the conflict between motherhood and artistic creation in a male-dominated society. Searingly honest, eloquent, and unexpectedly humorous, Black Milk will be widely embraced by writers, academics, and anyone who has undergone the identity crisis engendered by being a mother.
…because does that make you want to read the book? No. It made me not read it in 2011.
So what you should do is read The Forty Rules of Love or The Bastard of Istanbul (which I’m reading now), and if you fall in love with Shafak’s writing in her novels, I won’t have to tell you to read her memoir, you just will.
I just told you to read … don’t. Nobody is telling you that you SHOULD or MUST read her novels.
Just, you know.
If you don’t, you will regret it FOREVER.