A classic of queer literature that’s as electrifying today as it was when it originally appeared in 1982, On a Woman’s Madness tells the story of Noenka, a courageous Black woman merely trying to live a life of her choosing. When her abusive husband of just nine days refuses her request for divorce, Noenka flees her hometown in Suriname, on South America’s tropical northeastern coast, for the capital city of Paramaribo. Unsettled and unsupported, life in this new place is illuminated by the passionate romances of the present but haunted by society’s expectations and her ancestral past.
Astrid Roemer’s intimate novel - with its tales of plantation-dwelling snakes; rare orchids; and star-crossed lovers - is a blistering meditation on the cruelties we inflict on people who don’t conform. The first Surinamese winner of the prestigious Dutch Literature Prize, translated into sensuous English for the first time by Lucy Scott, Roemer carves out postcolonial Suriname in barbed, resonant fragments. Who is Noenka? Roemer asks us. “I’m Noenka,” she responds resolutely, “which means Never Again.”