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“Call no man happy until he is dead. Herodotus.” Mr. Nancy raised a white eyebrow, and he said, “I’m not dead yet, and, mostly because I’m not dead yet, I’m happy as a clamboy.” “The Herodotus thing. It doesn’t mean that the dead are happy,” said Shadow. “It means that you can’t judge the shape of someone’s life until it’s over and done.”
In 2009, in a secluded Mennonite colony in Bolivia, it was revealed that for a period of five years several men had been repeatedly drugging and raping girls and women throughout the colony. Victims from over 100 households were identified in the trial held two years later, but it is believed the actual number assaulted was much higher. When the women in the colony would speak of pain or bruising or waking up unusually drowsy, male family members and colony leaders would say that they were visited by the devil or would dismiss their claims out-right as wild female imagination.
Women Talking by Miriam Toews is a fictionalized depiction of events directly following the reveal of these real-life assaults. The author, Toews (pronounced “Taves”), is a Mennonite herself. Because she grew up in a similar situation as these women, she felt an obligation to tell the story of these events: “I needed to write about these women, I could have been one of them.”