Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More on Forbidden and Suzuma

I found two more reviews of Forbidden, one that also includes an interview with the author, Tabitha Suzuma. The book is a fictional depiction of a romantic relationship between a brother and sister. Other reviews I have noted here, here, and here.

Mieneke wrote

Because of their parents' abandonment, Lochan and Maya are forced to function as parents and from sharing everything as partners do, the leap to a relationship isn't that weird, psychologically speaking. It doesn't happen overnight, not even in the book, but it's something that grows organically, even when that made my skin crawl to see it happen, as the reader.

You don’t have to enjoy the thought of a relationship to understand that it is oppressive to make such relationships illegal and deny them equality. I have no desire to get a tattoo, or live at the top of a skyscraper, and the thought of eating certain foods some people regularly eat disgusts me. But I would stand up for the right of others to do all of these things.

While writing what is essentially a love story, she never once condones incest.

Baby steps. Understanding and sympathy are a beginning.

In the second part of the novel the constant fear of discovery, not just of their incestuous relationship, but of the situation at home with the kids and no parents, which might prompt the Child Protection Agency to take the kids into care and split them up, not to mention send Lochan and Maya to jail for incest, creates a growing sense of dread.

It would be nice if no real lovers had to fear being imprisoned for their love.

Nick S at Absolute Vanilla gives some thoughts on the book and interviews the author.

History is littered with examples of brother-sister love: Cleopatra VII was married to her brother Ptolemy XII, the Roman emperor Caligula is rumoured to have had sexual relations with all three of his sisters, and the Hapsburg and Bourbon dynasties are riddled with incest. It is interesting to note that incest is not illegal in all jurisdictions and the taboo is more often than not driven by religion. On the flip side, “incest” is fairly normal in the animal world and, at its most fundamental, the issue for humans is that avoidance is about genetics and gene pools - inbreeding creates small gene pools and those groups subsequently die out. At its most simplistic, it becomes then, a matter of biology rather than morality.

Everybody should consider family medical histories before deciding to have children, regardless of how closely they are related.

So now, Tabitha, the obvious question arises: what motivated and inspired you to write a book about sibling incest?

It started with the desire to write a tragic love story. It came down to incest by a process of elimination. I wanted the book to be set in contemporary London and I needed the two teens in question to be old enough for their love for each other to be taken seriously. But I quickly realised that (fortunately) in modern-day Britain there are very few – if any – obstacles that could keep a couple in love apart. Cultural and religious difference maybe, but if the couple were determined enough to go against their families' wishes, they could always run away together. I needed something that would be condemned by everyone wherever they went – a relationship that could never be and moreover, was against the law.

The law makes a powerful foe for their romance, and thus makes for engaging fiction. But it is tragic when that kind of oppression happens in real life.

I know that in writing Forbidden you went through many revisions, edits and rewrites. What was the view of your publishers on presenting them with the initial manuscript and what were the points on which you differed?

Actually there was only one, major rewrite. And that was in order to remove several of the sexual scenes. I was very keen to keep the story as realistic as possible and didn’t want to do any ‘glossing’ or tasteful fades to black. In order to keep the story real, I felt there would also be quite a lot of sexual content seeing as the couple are more or less left to their own devices. However my publishers felt that Lochan and Maya’s relationship was too sexual and not romantic enough and so I had to rework some scenes and do a lot of negotiation until we found a middle ground we were both happy with.

When it comes to commercial media, even when it appears to be inclusive of diversity, it is often somewhat exclusive, like when a television series will depict heterosexual couples practically having sex on screen, even if they are both cheating out spouses, yet will show minimal physical affection between two men who are not cheating on anyone.

Do you get to interact much with your young adult readers and, if so, what sort of feedback have you had from them on Forbidden?

I am fortunate enough to get a lot of wonderful emails from my readers. So far, the feedback on Forbidden has been overwhelmingly positive which feels great. However many readers have also written to tell me how much the book moved them, often to the point of tears, and many told me they never thought they would find themselves rooting for a brother and sister to be allowed to have a sexual relationship but that their feelings changed completely during the course of the book.

The more people think through the sensibility of this freedom to marry, instead of letting knee-jerk prejudices rule their hearts, the better. If the book helps some people do that, then I'm happy.
— — —

No comments:

Post a Comment

To prevent spam, comments will have to be approved, so your comment may not appear for several hours. Feedback is welcome, including disagreement. I only delete/reject/mark as spam: spam, vulgar or hateful attacks, repeated spouting of bigotry from the same person that does not add to the discussion, and the like. I will not reject comments based on disagreement, but if you don't think consenting adults should be free to love each other, then I do not consent to have you repeatedly spout hate on my blog without adding anything to the discourse.

If you want to write to me privately, then either contact me on Facebook, email me at fullmarriageequality at protonmail dot com, or tell me in your comment that you do NOT want it published. Otherwise, anything you write here is fair game to be used in a subsequent entry. If you want to be anonymous, that is fine.

IT IS OK TO TALK ABOUT SEX IN YOUR COMMENTS, BUT PLEASE CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY AS I WANT THIS BLOG TO BE AS "SAFE FOR WORK" AS POSSIBLE. If your comment includes graphic descriptions of activity involving minors, it's not going to get published.