Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood

Welcome to our March issue!

A woman in a mental institution wants to walk into the ocean. Another is desperate to marry off her daughter, just as her own mother was desperate to marry her off. Several are stuck in loveless marriages. These women—all characters in Fayeza Hasanat’s book—feel the weight of the patriarchy more than most. … they are trapped by forces greater than themselves and Hasanat paints heartbreaking portraits of their hopeless lives.

I leave the doctor’s office, / blood in my underwear. / Quietly, you are over. / In the elevator, // I think about that time / I didn’t learn to swim: / emerging from the lake chin-first.

That sentence I wrote, to announce the end, said it all. Yes, it was surrounded by other words–accomplishments, family lineage, hobbies–but that one sentence was truest. I’d never written anything better, never will.

I felt a warm pulse of validation. Losing Luke felt like it had rearranged the very atoms of my being, but I had no scars to signal as much.

This is what Noah wants, I remind myself. His body, his choice.

Murderous mothers, monstrous multiples. In some cultures, where infanticide was once common practice, twins are considered cursed.

I'd never written anything better, never will.

If you love to peek into other people's lives (and let's face it who doesn't?) check out these three celebrity memoirs in our Essential Reading recommendations.

Having been raised on Grimm / we mothers set rules: Don’t take apples / cakes or candies from strangers.

Desmond yells at his Fortnite Hell, / as bicycles whir by / my bird-shat window, // and afternoon traffic / and motherhood / head-shot me.

As the languorous calm of winter ends, / enter gardeners, whirling bees– / riotous breakaway / Spring.

When the milk comes down like nightfall, / nostalgia reeks of onions and camphor / in the corner apartment of Baghdad Street.

I leave the doctor’s office, / blood in my underwear. / Quietly, you are over.

Writing about a mother in crisis—that was not the book I wanted to write.

The book is a mixture of maternal memoir and scientific research, and it is both readable yet dense.

The tales reflect a great deal about women’s lives in Bangladesh and America from a writer with intimate experience of both.