A Collection of Short Stories

Fiction - Social Issues
68 Pages
Reviewed on 02/15/2019
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Author Biography

V.P. Evans is the pen name of an average (and perhaps boring) guy who seems desperate to disappear into lands far away. You would probably find him lost in a secluded village in Estonia, wandering among the wild islands of the Azores, or backpacking across vague paths in Asia. And sometimes, as the fading lights and the thick darkness of this mysterious cosmos unfold before him, he has an idea and writes it down.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lorraine Cobcroft for Readers' Favorite

Five stories. Five amazing and enlightening stories about various means of suppression of women. These stories are told in the first person by women who have been forced into marriage as children, raped, or had their bodies mutilated by procedures that are customary in some cultures. Sad stories, beautifully told. The first letter of a relevant quotation at the start of each story spells the word 'woman'. V.P. Evans says he had doubts, "as an unknown writer" about his ability to "slip into the diversity and complexity of a woman’s world". He need not have feared. This is an author with an impressive depth of perception and great empathy. He clearly researched his topics thoroughly. His descriptions were original and vivid. Some of the prose was magnificently poetic, and a joy to read over and over, just for the music the words made.

The stunning cover design warns you: this is not light reading. The stories will most likely make you angry. The writing is evocative. The author compels you to walk for a while in the shoes of someone who suffered due to unspeakable wrongs, and you feel the pain. But if you appreciate writers who take you into other worlds and make you truly experience and understand the life challenges faced by others... if you appreciate writers whose writing 'nudges the world a little', driving reflection and possibly - hopefully - motivating some readers, somewhere, to take action to make the world a better place - this is a must-read.

The preface ends with the words: "Millions of voices sunk behind closed doors, far away or next-doors. But still, in a whirl of violation of their rights, every single one of those women shares a common feature: a heart with boundless strength. This book belongs to them." V.P. Evans has given abused women a voice - a voice that can be heard clearly and that speaks right from the depths of their hearts. That's a remarkable feat for a male writer. It's a short read: less than 60 pages. But I'll read it again, and maybe again. And I'll certainly look for more of V.P. Evans' writings. I love his work! This was just magnificent writing, and the professional formatting and cover design more than did it justice.

Jack Magnus

Woman: A Collection of Short Stories is a women’s issues anthology written by V.P. Evans. In W, it should have been the most glorious moment of Astur’s young life. She and her husband, Tom, were about to greet their new daughter, Hani, but Astur’s successful delivery of her unborn daughter was being jeopardized by her panic-stricken immersion into the memory of the day her treasure was cut while women held her down. Past and present, and the overwhelming pain that had become part of her world after her genitals were crudely mutilated, all merged into one reality, leaving her terrified and fighting for her safety -- and deeply ashamed of showing her scarred body. In O, Jasmine couldn’t help the fact that her breasts were growing more quickly than they should, that her body was maturing. She hated the bandage that her mother made her wear each day that made it hard for her to breathe. Now her mother was heating a stone, and Jasmine would do anything to keep her mother from using it to iron her breasts flatter. Her mother only wanted the best for Jasmine, wanted her to have a chance to go to college, to leave the little village they lived in behind, but, if she were raped and impregnated, all those dreams would wither and die.

V.P. Evans’ women’s issues anthology, Woman: A Collection of Short Stories, is a stark and stunning indictment of female genital mutilation, breast ironing and other social issues affecting women both in third world countries and here in the United States. While one tends to think that FGM is practiced only abroad, more than 200 million women and girls have been subjected to this unsanitary and awful ritual, according to CNN, and there are practitioners here in the US who visit that horror on young girls every day. Evans’ story goes past the actual trauma to show the pain that is a legacy of that ritual cutting and the shame women experience from it. Astur’s PTSD is the result of a continuing war on women’s sexuality. Each of Evans’ stories is eloquently told and the reader can’t help but feel for the characters and realize their pain. Woman: A Collection of Short Stories is well written and contains brutal truths which must be exposed to light. It’s most highly recommended.

Debjani Ghosh

Woman: A Collection of Short Stories by V.P. Evans is a hard-hitting account of the brutalities faced by millions of women around the world. This short story collection celebrates the strength of women in the face of the adversities they encounter daily. Although this anthology spans only fifty pages, it will make you think deeply about these atrocities and will spur you to at least gather more knowledge about these crimes. In a few pages, Evans evocatively expresses the victims’ struggles, pain, the will to fight and hope for a better future.

V.P. Evans has uniquely styled this collection. Comprising five stories only, the heading of each story is one of the letters in the word “Woman”. The book cover, too, reflects a similar style. Evans had me hooked from the first story, “W”, which conveys the physical and psychological ramifications of female genital mutilation. “O” is a brutal account of breast ironing in a remote town in Cameroon. In addition to bringing alive the dread and confusion of an afflicted child, unable to understand how a caring parent can inflict such pain on her, it also sheds light on the standards of a woman’s world. “M” highlights the repercussions of rape on a survivor. It recounts how she is burdened with the arduous task of proving her innocence for the rest of her life and how she learns to fight back. “A” puts the spotlight on infidelity in a seemingly ideal marriage. “N” portrays the sordid reality of human trafficking. It’s an action-packed tale of the fight for freedom.

This thought-provoking, brilliant short story collection can be devoured in two hours and is recommended for lovers of women’s fiction. The book contains scenes of graphic violence and abuse so, it is intended solely for a mature audience.

K.C. Finn

Woman is a very short collection of stories penned by author V.P. Evans which attempts to deliver a cross section of harrowing women’s issues through five clearly defined lenses. From female genital mutilation to other brutal body-changing practises, rape recovery and more, the five women who spell out the word WOMAN through the book each have distinct tales to tell. What binds them is the emotive, innate sense of womanhood across all races and cultures, and what it means to live in today’s world where women are still belittled for being born the gender that they are.

It might be short, but this book is mighty. My only complaint is that I wish there were more of these harrowing, powerful tales to read. Author V.P. Evans is able to encapsulate an entirely different character for each moment of the collection, showing us different cultures of the world from those where extreme violence affects women’s lives from being very young, to those where that violence has supposedly ended, and women find themselves hurt in much more psychologically damaging, subtle ways. These tales of oppression do not depress, however, in spite of their shocking and sometimes violent content. The emotions of the women fighting their own battles uplift in an overall message of the incredible strength that women have to overcome even the most harrowing damage in life, creating a message of bravery and hope that is valuable for female solidarity worldwide. Overall, Woman is a superb read to be treasured and shared.