In Stones: A Novel (She Writes Press / UnCUT/VOICES | July 18th, 2017 | $16.95), by award-winning author Jeanie Kortum, protagonist Emely returns home to her tribe in Africa after earning a master’s degree in anthropology in the US, and finds herself drawn into a high stakes struggle between the linear, academic world she’s adopted and the intuitive, magical expansiveness that is her heritage. A master’s degree student in narrative anthropology, Emely has examined her own roots—but only through an academic lens. All this changes however, when she reconnects with her family’s tribe and its mystical prophecies.
Sent on an assignment to embed herself with the last living members of this ancient tribe living the old way deep in the forest, Emely attempts to keep an academic distance even as the people she’s there to observe insist that she is the one they’ve been waiting for, and that it is her destiny to find a stone tablet made thousands of years before Christ and lead the tribe into the future. But resisting her call for change are the women in her village—who worship a secret goddess who advocates female genital mutilation as a symbol of true purity—as well as a police chief with an agenda all his own. Eventually Emely is swept into the ultimate battle of opposing minds, souls, and bodies—one that could determine the future not just of her tribe, but women everywhere.
Every 10 seconds a girl is cut – 6,000 every day.
FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) is “The most sexist crime on the planet,” French lawyer Linda Weil-Curiel states. “The clitoris is the only organ dedicated to sexual pleasure and only a woman has it. Grown just for her pleasure, it’s cut from her body.”
When Jeanie Kortum witnessed a clitoridectomy in Kenya, she was spurred into action to create a story with enough emotional depth and suspense, people would at once be entertained but also more fully understand the intricate societal and interfamily politics behind this ancient ritual. FGM is a worldwide practice that has affected 200 million. Since 1990, the estimated number of girls and women in the US who have undergone the practice has more than tripled.
As Dr. Tobe Levin von Gleichen says in her foreword: