The COVID-19 pandemic may have shut down many businesses and homes around the world, but it also inspired V (formerly Eve Ensler) to open the door to her journal, poetry and other archives. written work.
The author of The Vagina Monologues69, compiled these archives for his latest book, Reading. Divided into topics such as “walls,” feminism, AIDS and grief, his new book asks the reader to think about all the pain in the world – whether it is the modern racism that is rampant in the US or past treatment of the country. the AIDS epidemic – and understanding how things got this way and what can be changed going forward.
This is not V’s first memoir, however. In 2019, V announced The Apology, a sensitive look at her childhood, marred by a sexually and physically abusive father. Written from the perspective of her late father as an apology to her daughter, V tells PEOPLE writing the story “set her free.”
“As a survivor of sexual and physical abuse, I think I waited 60 years for forgiveness from my father. So it was really the basis of it, the need to read and take responsibility,” V o he told PEOPLE during the release. “Mother [the need] to be freed from the forces that I feel my life has been made of for years. ”
V also discusses abuse by reading, as she details the suffering she has witnessed from women around the world, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Bosnia. His book aims to inform readers of these atrocities, while asking them to sit with their heads – and then strive to make a difference.
Through her various campaigns, most notably One Billion Rising, which strives to end violence against women worldwide, V is working to change the shocking statistic that one in three women will raped or abused in their lives. His motivations, life experiences and more are explored in the latest addition to the author’s fascinating book.
PEOPLE sat down with the Tony Award-winning author to discuss his newly published memoir.
What is your definition of reading?
I was saying that it is accounting, it is looking back, and it is confronting, it is accepting that something has happened and looking at it. In some ways, it’s a form of walking through a wound, a portal. When you read something, you agree with it, you believe it happened, and you see where you are responsible, and what you could have done better, what you didn’t do well, what you were you can do it. do in the future.
You include many different stories in the book from different parts of your life. How did you go about selecting the stories you submitted?
I think everything really started with this story and with this decision to do this book during the time of COVID, where those of us who were lucky enough not to have jobs in front of us were locked in our houses with our thoughts and our thoughts with us for many days. And it became for me – and I think a lot of people – a kind of independent past, our childhood, all those things.
But at the same time, the world was in our hands and there was a great cultural and political narrative going on in this country, on many different levels.
It, to me, was just measured in all directions. I believed that it would be the beginning of the affairs of this country.
When I thought about this book, it was really looking at all the things that I tried to think about during my writing life, these 45 years of writing, but also as an activist, as a woman, as a person. , as a person involved in political organizations. And as I read and edited it, the themes became clear, like “walls.” Okay, how many places are there walls, and I’m still trying to get in or out? And feminicide and AIDS, and just looking at those topics. And as my affairs and politics have always been the same, they have never been separate. They are always connected together.
What message were you trying to convey?
In a country that has been afraid to face its history and own its history, we see that we are obliged to repeat it again and again. We live in a constant cycle of despair and more misery, which has led us to a real crisis in this country.
I truly believe that what we don’t read controls and decides us. So I think the main message of the book is, as difficult and painful as reading is in the moment, it really frees you to have a life where you can go and not stay burdened, guilty, burdened, worried, don’t do it, past tense.
Sometimes reading the stories you posted may make the reader feel small etc less powerful like, “All these horrible things are happening. How can I make a difference against all these giants?” So how can the reader change that perspective?
We can take action, and we can make changes – and the world is completely out of our control. Both things are true.
Don’t dwell in the mind of the world and get stuck – say, “What can I do today? What is one generous, big deed that I can do that can change something?” one today?”
I’m looking, as part of a movement, I’m looking at what the unity of the world is, how the sisters feel, what it means to be in the fight together. And I have courage, and I have hope and I have strength.
Don’t miss a story – subscribe Free daily newsletter for the people stay up to date with the best news that PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity gossip to interesting stories.
You described some of the most painful and terrifying human experiences in this book that you saw yourself by talking to women who went through them. So after hearing stories like that, what other areas in life do you personally find joy in amongst all the sorrow and pain?
I think that part of having the honor and the privilege of sitting with people and sharing their stories with you is knowing that you are in this place, sharing this communion with people. And you also see those stories, but you also get to see those people become leaders, and dance, and share joy, and heal people, and make gardens and make magic.
I will tell you where the greatest joy comes from: being in solidarity with my sisters and brothers across the rising planet, who are fighting against violence, who are trying to build and create organizations the world and the world’s opportunity for all of us. to understand that patriarchy is a paradigm that is killing us all. And when we come together to break it down, then the possibility of a real future exists.
Reading for sale now.