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

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,232 Ratings  ·  252 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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Dec 09, 2013 Kristy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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

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,
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
Jun 07, 2013 Marina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 10, 2013 Warren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 13, 2013 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 26, 2013 Mandi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 12, 2014 Laura Ramos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Akshat Solanki
Dec 10, 2015 Akshat Solanki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know where this book would take me after completing the reading, and so far it's one of the best books in self-help category i have ever read.
Eve Ensler has not just portrayed about the women body, feelings, but the trauma, problems they suffer.
I could not just read a page where she has described her vagina operation and post-operation feelings.
Overall, it's a must-read for women who want some change in the world.
I am sure it shall bring you the same with the fluent narration of the aut
Dec 05, 2013 Eddie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful, gut-wrechingly honest book. I loved it. I wish more Eves existed in this world. I wish Eve was the majority of this greedy, self-serving, violent psychotic world we mostly turn a blind eye to and even accept as normal or just shrug and say, what can I do about it? Eve Ensler is a beautiful soul, it seems. The things she writes are so powerful and sometimes haunting and even gross, but goddammit, it's honest and not one bit robotic, like most people I know personally. Her intertwined ...more
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
Oct 01, 2013 Shawna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lorra Fae
May 28, 2013 Lorra Fae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 12, 2015 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(4.5) To say that I "really liked" this book is inaccurate: Ensler's works should be rated by the degree of heartbreak and humanity they evoke in the reader. She is an amazing woman and this memoir of her battle with cancer (horrific and terrifying) and her work with the thousands of war-rape survivors in the Congo (also horrific and terrifying) proves that beyond any doubt. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because of her style that contained toomanyshovedtogetherwordsandsentencesfore ...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
Deena Metzger
Dec 17, 2014 Deena Metzger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cancer in the body and the same cancer of violence,cruelty and greed afflicted on women. The horrors of violent oppression everywhere, but the Congo... unparalled ... and so Eve Ensler meets it with helping to establish the City of Joy. A must read on behalf of witnessing and consciousness.
Mar 06, 2015 Katherine rated it really liked it
This is my Seattle BookWomen read for March. I would say that it probably could be classified as a tour de force – the opinions expressed in it are strong and it stays with you. The chapters are short so they are easy to sail through but what Eve says in them is not easy: she is diagnosed and is fighting cancer so talks a lot about colostomy bags which just become “bags”, and she starts to equate the horrors that her body endures each day with the horrors she has seen especially against women in ...more
Dec 08, 2014 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very quick read- I started and finished it on a flight from Chicago to Portland. I haven't read The Vagina Monologues that made Ensler famous. And honestly, I likely won't. This is her memoir; a very vulnerable, honest account of her battle with cancer, and also of her social activism in the Congo. I respect the work that she's done very much and parts of this book resonated with me.

If I may be picky (and I may, but I'm hesitant because when someone shares something very personal, what
Aug 12, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jena Andrus
Jul 15, 2014 Jena Andrus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cancer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sneh Pradhan
Jun 03, 2014 Sneh Pradhan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lynn Tolson
Feb 11, 2014 Lynn Tolson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, cancer, incest
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
Pierced Librarian
To quote Ms. Ensler, "It is hard to know where to begin. It is hard to know where anything begins..."

I wavered between a 3 and a 4 star. The first 1/2 of the book tore my heart out. I sat in a pub in Uppsala Sweden and drank beer after beer because I wouldn't stop reading. I had to keep reading.

The writing, so articulate, so clear, so powerful from the very first page:

"My body was a burden. I saw it as something that unforunately had to be maintained. I had little patience for its need.

Made my
Feb 08, 2015 Alvera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Much like her previous work, Eve Ensler's memoir about her experiences with cancer is intense, raw, thought-provoking and beautiful. She has organized the book into scans, snippets of thought and experience strung together.

"I have already died from the humiliation and terror that are now merged in a cocktail of sweat and nausea, and I am curled on the table, hoping he will not see me, that I will disappear, and at the same time all I want is for him to see me and for this to be part of what it m
Debbie "DJ"
May 04, 2014 Debbie "DJ" rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
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.
Feb 02, 2014 Rama rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 12, 2016 Erica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having previously read the vagina monologues (7 years ago), I have been familiar with Eve and her struggles before picking up this book.

After reading the first few pages I had hoped the book would orient me, as I consider myself somewhat disconnected from my body. It did not do that.

Eve is a great writer; her writing style is easy to read even when she's writing about heavy subjects like cancer, violence and death. She is honest; I could feel the amount of love she has for the world as I read a
Jan 12, 2016 Denni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember who recommended this book to me but whoever you are I am so glad you did as this is a very special little book. It's hard to explain why properly without giving too much away. All I will say is that it's calming and life-affirming and easy to read and warm and inspiring despite and also because of the subjects it covers.
Marcella Wigg
Sep 01, 2015 Marcella Wigg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook while completing a particularly difficult section of the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire, which was perhaps a poor choice because it is heavy and didn't exactly inspire me to move efficiently-- more like curl in a ball and cry. Eve Ensler details her experience with colon cancer, relating her health struggles to her difficult childhood at the hands of a sexually abusive father and emotionally distant mother, and (less successfully) linking it to the horrific war st ...more
Jun 13, 2014 Kimm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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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.” 26 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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