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In the Body of the World: A Memoir of Cancer and Connection
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In the Body of the World: A Memoir of Cancer and Connection

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  828 ratings  ·  206 reviews
Playwright, author, and activist Eve Ensler has devoted her life to the female body—how to talk about it, how to protect and value it. Yet she spent much of her life disassociated from her own body—a disconnection brought on by her father’s sexual abuse and her mother’s remoteness. “Because I did not, could not inhabit my body or the Earth,” she writes, “I could not feel o ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Picador (first published April 30th 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,934)
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Kristy
I didn't need an excuse to adore Ms. Ensler more than I already do. I did make the mistake of reading some reviews before finishing the book though. There weren't bad reviews, but some that ventured to say that she talked about shit and poop too much. For those poor, comfortable women all I can say is you missed the point you sad creature. She reminds us of who we are, where we come from and what happens to us in this toxic world. Then shows us the beauty within it all. Within the shit. Everybod ...more
Holley Rubinsky
3.5

I fell into Eve Ensler's In the Body of the World: A Memoir without preconception; the book was at the library and a volunteer handed it to me. And, while it may be hard to believe, I hadn't followed Ensler's career, even missed "The Vagina Monologues" when it was performed locally.

Through the first half of the book, I was reeling, feeling that this was a definite buy for my own shelf--I was glazed, amazed and deeply pleased by her honesty, her focused, beautiful writing (New-England formal,
...more
Viji Sarath (Bookish endeavors)
The Himalayan hole..

This book is about the author's fight against her cancer and memories of her father's exploitation of her. Touching and nauseating at times,this book acts like a mirror held against the atrocities that are done against women throughout the world,and especially Congo. Few cases are explained in detail and those are enough to make you so shocked that you might not want to do anything for a while. Just imagine the case of Angelique who had to see

"the pregnant womb of her best f
...more
Marina
I was lucky enough to not just read this book but to see Eve Ensler do a book reading of select parts. The parts she selected I now hear in her voice, with the urgency and the love and the pain that she infused in them. One of my favorite passages in the book was one that once I read on paper, did not pop out the way it did when Eve read it. It was the story about Cindy, the woman who helped patients fart. When Eve said the line, "Cindy was a volunteer." I just about broke down. The absolute lov ...more
Warren
There are a number of reasons why I might be predisposed against the book. At times, it can drift into the New Age loftiness of "Eat, Pray, Love." In that vein, it can also tend to the "white woman discovers herself in an exotic country as she makes use of the white privilege she criticizes." Also, for a memoir of a famous person, its scope is narrowly focused.

That said, the work is worth the read. Her writing is raw and, at times, self-deprecating. She successfully makes use of the metaphors o
...more
Diane
This was a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you so much for this wonderful gift.
Every woman needs to read this book and then pass it on to everyone she loves.
Eve Ensler is simply an amazing woman. Someone you would want to sit down to dinner with just to hear her ideas, but without opening your own mouth since you felt you had nothing of value to share.
I was reminded, over and over as I read this book, how insulated and sheltered my own life has been. I knew of all the conflicts and historical incident
...more
Mandi
This memoir was a stunning work of art. It is simultaneously brutally honest and beautifully eloquent. It should have been a short read, but I had to keep stopping to read and reread passages that stopped me in my tracks and made me think of the world in a completely different way. Eve Ensler is, without a doubt, a brave pioneer of a woman. She calls herself a "force of nature" in this memoir. Underneath that tough veneer is a vulnerable, emotional woman and she let that lesser known part of her ...more
Laura Ramos
Eve's memoir on her fight with cancer is gutsy, poetic, and raw. In the midst of being a white woman of privilege setting up an abuse center for healing in the Congo she is diagnosed with a late stage cancer in the uterus. Her story is very much about body.... Her body and what it went through with cancer but it is also a story about bodies....abused bodies, hurt bodies, torn and broken bodies and the roads towards healing and hope. She weaves her stories with stories from women in the Congo... ...more
Special K
Ensler shares the story of her personal battle with uterine/colon cancer in this short and beautifully honest memoir, never sparing the gritty details of diagnosis and treatment (including exploding poop bags). I love the first half of the book which is humble, funny, uncertain and afraid. My favorite chapter "How'd I get it" lists hypothetical causes of Ensler's cancer, like: "Was it never having babies?" "Was it the city?" "Was it that I didn't cry enough?" "Was it already decided?" I love the ...more
Shawna
It has taken me a couple of days to write a review. Ensler has moved me, floored me, and made me a bit jealous. Yes it is a book about cancer, an abuse, and our bodies, and I am jealous of her, how strong she is and the network that she has built up around herself. She has an amazing group of people around her who helped her get through such a horrendous time, and not everyone has the money or the connections to do this.
The book is beautifully written, and inspirational. I am going to have to b
...more
Lorra Fae
This was a beautiful memoir, full of heartbreak and horror.

It made me swoon, cry, and it made me insanely furious. Mostly at the medical world. Yes, it saved Eve from her cancer, but as she heals she is eating burgers and pancakes and god knows what else - where is the true healing? The medical system is disgusting - reading about how they basically tore her body to shreds with surgery and chemo, without once mentioning how to actually care for her body, was infuriating, especially since this wo
...more
Laura Lilly Cotten
This is a 3.5.

I had to take a month-ish sabbatical from this book. The review that follows is written in Ensler's style/tone and will hopefully communicate why:

This memoir is a story of pain. It is a story of lost and regained hope, of chemo therapy, and stomas, and fistulas, and drugs remembered, hamburgers eaten, of moving bowels, prayers for farts, raped women, and second winds. It is not clean. It is not humble. It is hard and real and true and heavy-handed. It is powerful but for me never r
...more
Nancy
A loned book from my sister and a quick but deep read, this book offers incredible insight into the life of Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues), where the spark for the Vagina Monologues came from in her life, her quest to learn about violence against women, and her personal journey through cancer treatment. A lot packed into essential a short book, but deeply moving.

A story of resistance and resilience. Of damaged family relationships and the harm that can carry into each person's life and the i
...more
Jena Andrus
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
I am ashamed to say that this is my first Eve Ensler book. But it is, I admit. And now that I’ve tasted her work, I feel even more foolish for not having picked her up sooner. But, as I’ve always believed, there is a right time for every book— a time in your life when you’re particularly receptive to its tone, particularly enthralled with its story, particularly in need of its message. The Universe, I guess, has finally decided that it’s my time for Eve.

In The Body of The World, Ensler tells a
...more
Sneh Pradhan
If every woman in the world could but read even a single book by Eve Ensler , the world will become a phenomenally better place to live in .
The fact that people like her exist , is enough reason to maintain some essence of sanity in a world with lopsided foundations of generations of patriarchy and misogyny .
This book is a memoir, but not just a catharsis for Ensler's shocking and traumatic past , but one for any woman who reads it, as well . As women, we all have probably gone through the sa
...more
Lynn Tolson
Review of In The Body of the World: A Memoir by Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler has dedicated her life as an activist for human rights. Her memoir, In The Body of the World, is a deeply personal story of survival that extends beyond a subjective view to a global perspective on the female condition.

Eve Ensler defined her value in society and her place on the planet with work that has measurable achievements, such as The Vagina Monologues, and she has many accolades, including Newsweek’s 150 Women Who Change
...more
Debbie "DJ" Wilson
Such a well written and profound look at our bodies and how we relate to them. Her story of surviving uterine cancer mixed with stories of the atrocities committed to women's bodies in the world. She says in one word what would take me a hundred pages to express. I've often felt so powerless to change such a violent world, but here is the story of one woman making a huge difference. Only through the education and support of girls can this world ever stand a chance of surviving.
Rama
Memory monologues of Eve Ensler

This is a fascinating book in which the author, Eve Ensler, narrates her life experience as an activist for women's rights. She speaks of atrocities committed against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the war-torn parts of former Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan. Her experiences in working with less fortunate women and her inner thoughts have evolved into a beautiful and creative work of scholarship. She challenges us; who will join those who lived through the
...more
Kim
When this book arrived, I was surprised it was so small. Then I looked at the list of chapters and was even more surprised by how short they were - 2 pages, 6 pages. Then I began to read and was moved to tears by page 5. This little book packs a big punch. It feels much like a diary, sometimes a dream, with short but powerful images that leave you haunted. Ensler's disbelief, fear, pain, and gratitude are palpable. You are right there with her. Her honest feelings and thoughts about the mother t ...more
Betty
Ensler is not a great writer at all, but her story is freaking incredible. I listened to the audiobook which helped because it was really more like spoken word than a book. More than anything, I appreciate the power of her voice -- to speak up and share candidly the details of her cancer, her treatments, the abuses she endured from her parents as a child. I appreciate her incredible determination to live despite some of the most horrific physical conditions (having your guts and colon ripped out ...more
Terry
I deeply admire Eve Ensler and her work. And I understand her...there's not really a word for it--something beyond "belief" or "philosophy"--that humanity is connected on a deep level, that when one person, woman, is hurt or murdered in the Congo, when one forest is burned to the ground, then we all suffer, we all hurt.

Still, this book walks a very, verrrrry fine line between this sense of interconnectedness and privilege pretending not to be privilege. Eve Ensler can literally pick up a phone
...more
Elizabeth
A hard read. Gritty and howling with pain and real. Ensler speaks of the rape of women and earth and the ways each form of violence points to violence that is patriarchy. Important.
Christiane Alsop
Best memoir I read in a long, long time. Couldn't put it down. You could say it is about the author's journey through cancer. Yet, it is about life, love, and what's wrong with our world and so much more. Here's a taste:

"Tell someone you were raped and they move away. Tell someone you lost your money and they stop calling. Tell someone you have become homeless and you become invisible. Tell someone you've got cancer and they are terrified. They don't call. They don't know what to say. What if ou
...more
Jory
I just finished this on audio, and it was one of the most visceral, at times painful, inspiring, and mind-blowing memoirs I've read. I heard Eve Ensler speak last week at Northshire Bookstore, without knowing much about this new book -- her journey through cancer and soooo much more -- and have been unable to stop thinking or talking about her since. The way she is able to connect all things: her cancer, women's trauma, global trauma, our need to be in our own bodies, what love is, and the list ...more
Danalarson
This book is not for the faint of heart but for those who lean into unbridled narrative discussing hard topics and raw emotion. Next to Eve's detailed battle with cancer are the stories of the women of the Congo and their horrific stories of mass rape. When Ensler talks about "a second wind" a type of rebirth or renewal for herself, the earth and the women who have been tortured she says "The second wind will be brought on by the girls. the girls. the girls..." I believe her. This book is immeas ...more
Lisa Wheeler
So difficult and heart wrenching to read but I was so very grateful she could share so much her experience with cancer. Paralleling it with her work in the Congo and the brutal reality there, she brought to light something that I've also felt was true. If we don't honor our earth, or the women of the world, we are all truly doomed.

It ends on a lighter side with the opening of the City of Joy center. Somehow she gave me back hope with this book.

That said, I recommend this book for adults only.
Emily Kimball
A heartbreaking, humanizing, and beautiful walk with Eve in her experience with cancer. Although I have never experienced cancer within my own body, I have seen its presence in some of my intimate loved ones. Ensler's words have given me more expansive language to talk about an increasing prevalent disease amid other daily experiences in our world.

"Do not be afraid, no, death will not be our end. Indifference will be, dissociation will be, collateral damage, polar ice caps melting, endless hunge
...more
Laura Buechler
A quote from this book:

It turns out that somatization is related to hysteria, which stems from the Greek cognate of uterus. Uterus = hysteria. They always called me hysterical in my family. Extreme feeling. Sarah Bernhardt. Intense. But what is extreme? I mean, what would be the appropriate level of emotional response to someone beating you daily or calling you jackass or stupid or molesting you? What would be the nonhysterical response to living in a world where so many are eating dirt and swim
...more
Lexie
"Cancer threw me through the window of my disassociation into the center of my body's crisis. The Congo threw me deep into the crisis of the world, and these two experiences merged as I faced the disease and what I felt was the beginning of the end."

Eve Ensler is still here! The woman who wrote *The Vagina Monologues* and founded the *V-Day* movement was suddenly faced, in early 2010, with uterine cancer. This at a time when she was working with UNICEF and with rape-ravaged women in the Congo t
...more
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Eve Ensler is an internationally bestselling author and an award-winning playwright whose works include The Vagina Monologues, The Good Body, Insecure at Last, and I Am an Emotional Creature, since adapted for the stage as Emotional Creature. She is the founder of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised more than $90 million for local groups and activis ...more
More about Eve Ensler...
The Vagina Monologues I am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World The Good Body Insecure at Last: Losing it in Our Security-Obsessed World A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer: Writings to Stop Violence Against Women and girls

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“I was always reaching for love, but it turns out love doesn't involve reaching. I was always dreaming of the big love, the ultimate love, the love that would sweep me off my feet or 'break open the hard shell of my lesser self' (Daisaku Ikeda). The love that would bring on my surrender. The love that would inspire me to give everything. As I lay there, it occurred to me that while I had been dreaming of this big love, this ultimate love, I had, without realizing it, been giving and receiving love for most of my life. As with the trees that were right in front of me, I had been unable to value what sustained me, fed me, and gave me pleasure. And as with the trees, I was so busy waiting for and imagining and reaching and dreaming and preparing for this huge big love that I had totally missed the beauty and perfection of the soft-boiled eggs and Bolivian quinoa.” 15 likes
“What if, instead of being afraid of even talking about death, we saw our lives in some ways as preparation for it.
What if we were taught to ponder it and reflect on it and talk about it and enter it and rehearse it and try it on?What if, rather than being cast out and defined by some terminal category, you were identified as someone in the middle of a transformation that could deepen your soul, open your heart, and all the while-even if and particularly when you were dying-you would be supported by and be part of a community?”
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