Finalist, 2017 International Book Awards, Women’s Issues
At the onset of puberty girls’ right legs are sawed off in Ramprend’s Beautification Ritual. In this dystopian novel, female stumps are desirable to men. Solanj’l — ’l denoting one-leg — hates her inability to move freely and makes a wooden leg to enable her to walk, or step-drag, rather than be rolled in a chair or swing along on props. It’s an extraordinary thing to do because no artificial limbs exist in Ramprend. Her husband sees commercial possibilities in his wife’s invention and begins producing Glom’s Glamor Legs. The ability to move more or less on two legs, no matter how uncomfortably, opens new ways of thinking for the women. Solanj’l and Deba’l, wife of Hunak, Minister Second Only to the First, therefore start gatherings of women, ostensibly to discuss Pleasure Ways with the wooden legs for the purpose of increasing husband happiness. Nevertheless, husbands are not always paramount in their thoughts. When items start disappearing in Ramprend and it is learned that women who live in the mountains outside the city have two legs and operate independently, Solanj’l and some of her friends are determined to put an end to the “Beautification,” no matter the cost.
What People Are Saying
“Energetic prose, vivid description, a page-turner plot, this debut novel grabs the reader by the throat and doesn’t let go until the heart-thumping climax. In the Land of Two-Legged Women brings a fully realized dystopian society to life through the considerable imaginative forces of author Huey Helene Alcaro. In Ramprend, at the onset of puberty, girls must submit to the horribly disfiguring Beautification Ritual to satisfy the pleasure of their future husbands. Led by the fiery and beautiful Solanj’l, the women of Ramprend revolt to reclaim their bodies and their lives. From the first Gatherings of the women, ostensibly to discuss ways they can further pleasure their husbands, to the final faceoff in which the men threaten to storm the Great Hall in which the women have barricaded themselves, this battle of social change bellows a triumph of the human spirit. Both in love and war the stakes are high and not everyone can win. Creating a new society means accepting what must be relinquished as well as what is gained.” Cecelia Frey, author of Moments of Joy and The Long White Sickness
“Huey Helene Alcaro’s novel, In the Land of Two-Legged Women, is tough, shocking and necessary, an allegory reminiscent of fellow SFnal feminists Joanna Russ, Monique Wittig, and Ursula K. LeGuin. Alcaro keeps us turning pages, AND thinking!” Ursula Pflug, author of The Alphabet Stones and Motion Sickness
“I cannot imagine a Women’s Studies classroom without this dystopian novel. Like Margaret Atwood and Charlotte Perkins GIlman, Alcaro exposes the misogyny and concomitant rage beneath the veneer of tradition. This slim allegory dares us to look away from the full-frontal horror of what history has wrought for women. I could not stop reading, cannot stop thinking about the gauntlet this bold gem of a text has thrown down. Brave, compelling, and long overdue. “ Donna Decker, author of Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You
About the Author
Huey Helene Alcaro has worked on a farm, taught adults in inner city Newark, New Jersey, and taught and directed the Women’s Center at Montclair State University, NJ. Her fiction has appeared in several North American journals and was a finalist for the 2011 Glass Woman Prize. She lives in Roseland, NJ, and blogs at hueyhelenealcaro.com. In the Land of Two-Legged Women is her debut novel.