Cover Image: Birth Canal

Birth Canal

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Member Reviews

I didnt really get this one, i felt it was too disjointed for me and i just wasnt really interested.

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This was a heavy and intense read focusing on four different women through present day and historic time periods. Although small, it is powerful and gut-wrenching in parts.
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this ARC.

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Thank you NetGalley and Scribe UK for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I found this book incredibly moving and unique. It follows the different stories of women in Indonesia, and how their different situations led to them making difficult decisions. This was very emotional and sad, but also reflective on how brave women are.

One thing I will say is to check the content warnings of this book, as there is some quite graphic content.

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Birth Canal follows 4 women from different eras and walks of life who are inextricably linked and how their lives are shaped by violence, war and the patriarchal societies that dictate their paths in life. I love historical fiction so was intrigued about Indonesia as a Dutch colony and the impact of the Japanese invasion. As with such novels, it is brutal and devastating at times both in the trauma experienced and how the characters survive, and carry this through their lives. The transition into the timeline of each character is a bit sudden at times but settle after a page or two.
A powerful and thought-provoking story

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Thought-provoking and ultimately harrowing, stories with no ultimate happy ending.

Split in two parts, Birth Canal follows 4 different women (each with their own sub-heading) from various walks of life and time, all of whom have lives defined and inflicted by men's violence, sexuality (and it's consequences) and a patriarchal misogynistic society. All are ultimately failed by the men in their life and their actions or lack of, with one struggling to conceive, another with an obsessive stalker, one forced into sexual slavery and one struggling to get rid of an unwished for pregnancy.

A realistic insight into the struggles historically and today women have had to face, often unsupported and alone.

Thanks to NetGalley, Scribe UK and the author for the ARC, I really enjoyed reflecting on this novel and the topics it brought up.

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Content Warnings: War, violence, death, rape/sexual assault, child death, death of a parent, domestic abuse, suicide

Birth Canal is a meandering exploration of war, violence, sexuality, and misogyny - told via the intertwining stories of several Japanese and Indonesian women.

I have to be honest, for like 90% of this book I had little to no idea what was going on. I can usually get on board with non-linear timelines and rapidly flipping perspectives, but unfortunately, it really didn't work for me in this instance. My prevailing emotion was confusion throughout, and it never really clicked for me. Regardless, the novella is packed with scenes which are heart-wrenching and thought provoking, and the themes did come through for the most part and were explored thoughtfully, even though narrative-wise, I was completely lost.

Thanks to NetGalley, Dias Novita Wuri, and Scribe UK for the ARC.

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(PR product @scribe_uk @netgalley) I’d say I’ve read quite a lot of historical fiction in my time, but I definitely haven’t read anything about Indonesia under Dutch colonial rule, and the subsequent Japanese invasion during the war, so I was excited to be approved for Birth Canal by Indonesian author Dias Novita Wuri - translated by the author herself! You know when a book is dealing with colonialism and war that you’ll need to brace yourself, and although this book is only slim (160 pages), Wuri packs a lot of emotional impact into four vignettes each focusing on four different women.
None of the four women have much in common beyond their gender and the fact that they all find their lives being defined by the violence inflicted on them by men. A young woman in modern day Jakarta tries to deal with an unwanted pregnancy on her own, a woman during the war finds herself forced into prostitution for the Japanese military, a woman deals with a traumatised husband and an American photographer who is dangerously obsessed with her, and finally another young woman struggling to conceive while her husband is the opposite of supportive.
I liked the way that the two more modern narratives sandwiched the two 20th-century narratives at the beginning and end, although it was depressing in how obvious it made it that women are constantly suffering, have suffered and will suffer. The circumstances change, wars end, power changes hands, but women continue to bear the brunt of the brutality of both war and men. Sometimes the perspective would shift to the second person within each vignette, and I did find this a bit confusing. With four stories already vying for space in such a slim novel, I felt that these shifts took me out of the narrative too much and then I had to situate myself again.
Bleak & brutal, as is to be expected.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A beautiful enjoyable story that makes you think.

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