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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  2,336 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
Winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

“A powerhouse drama. . . . Lynn Nottage’s beautiful, hideous and unpretentiously important play [is] a shattering, intimate journey into faraway news reports.”—Linda Winer, Newsday

“An intense and gripping new drama . . . the kind of new play we desperately need: well-informed and unafraid of the world’s brutalities. Nottage is one
Paperback, 102 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Theatre Communications Group (first published 2009)
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Ruined is the 2009 Pulitzer winning drama by Lynn Nottage. I have now read three of Nottage's plays and been impressed by all of them. What a powerhouse of a playwright exposing those who follow her work to real issues in today's world. Ruined is a hauntingly chilling tale of life in the Republic of the Congo during the ongoing fighting that occurs there. It focuses on the rape of young girls by soldiers on both sides of the conflict and how one woman has created a brothel as both a way station ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Playwright Lynn Nottage won her first Pulitzer Prize for this play, commissioned by and premiered in November 2008 at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. The back of the book reproduces the songs created for the play, musical composition by Dominic Kanza, lyrics by Nottage. The music for “You Come Here to Forget” is fast, using lots of black keys, while “A Rare Bird” has a chord-heavy left hand and a thinly-picked out treble overlaid. The set for this play is a seedy, well-used bar in a small mining ...more
Jun 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war
This play is far more powerful in production than on the page, yet reading it still gives a searing glimpse into the difficulties Congolese women are facing in their country’s civil war, a convoluted, vicious conflict in which rape is systematically – and pervasively – used as a weapon. Drawing on her extensive interviews with victims/survivors, Lynn Nottage presents a tale of such suffering that it seems like a warped horror story from another time period or, we could wish, another planet. Yet ...more
Elizabeth A
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, plays
The winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, this play is a difficult yet important read.

I use a cell phone. Maybe you do too. There are so many ethical issues concerning how and where and by whom our gadgets and products are manufactured. Coltan, a mineral mined in the Congo and used in cell phones, is partly the cause of the ongoing war in the region. This play sheds some light on the collateral damage of devices upgraded often, and one we take for granted.

Inspired by interviews the author
Jill Mackin
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pulitzer prize winning play about civil war in the Congo and the women in a brothel. Powerful script.
Expanding Bookshelf
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Ruined is a Pulitzer Prize-winning play written by Lynn Nottage about the plight of women in the civil war ravaged Democratic Republic of the Congo. The play is set in a brothel/bar run by the hard-as-nails Mama Nadi. She’s a no-nonsense woman, perfectly capable of getting right into the faces of armed soldiers to make sure they follow her rules: They must take their bullets out of their guns before entering the bar. No brawls. And absolutely no talk whatsoever about the bloody war that gets clo ...more
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really strong writing. And the ending is such a powerful image!

That said, I LOVE reading plays, but I believe they are almost always better performed. Here, this holds true. Some of the character dynamics would likely be better explored on the stage (with physical space and spoken dialogue to play with) than on paper.

Full review to come!
Hana Candelaria
My interest in this play stems from ongoing reading about women in the Congo as well as this author's (Lynn Nottage) trip to Uganda. Her interviews with Ugandan war victims not only informed the play, but tightens the distance between news reports and actual testimonials about what happens to women there.

Ruined means that a woman is so brutally raped that she cannot even turn to prostitution to support herself (which could be a 'logical' choice following the rejection by her community and famil
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, 2017-woc, plays
A brothel stands on the edge of the war where generals, government officers and rebels walk in and have a drink or women. The war has torn apart civilians and the villages are pillaged. Violence against women is the norm and brutal rape victims find themselves rejected by their families for no fault of theirs. One such girl enters this brothel whose life had existed within stringent village boundaries. One fateful encounter with rebels, she was "ruined". A variant of this society exists where I ...more
Emma Getz
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Incredibly powerful piece on the lives of women during the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a topic western media completely ignores. It was fascinating and devastating. I only give 4 stars though because there is something that bothers me a little bit about the fact that Nottage went to the Congo and interviewed these women about their deeply personal stories about sexual assault during war time and then profited on them in a play that graphically depicts said assault multiple ...more
Si Squires-Kasten
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
Lynn Nottage is a monumental talent, and her plays provide an urgent revitalization of realism for the modern stage. She is intensely moral and political, populating her plays with characters who violently disagree about the world and forcing her audience to think dialectically. Ruined's most profound achievement is its investigation of people forming personal identities from a constantly shifting political climate, and she is equal parts scientific and humane.
Jun 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: recent-reads
This play deals with war-ravished Congo. We get the voice of the women affected by the war and how it damages the soul and the spirit.

I didn't find this one as powerful as the first play I read by her, Sweat, but it is an important play.
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
Ruined is an example of writing trying to expose a part of the world without casting a judgement on it. Ruined takes place in a whorehouse in Congo, where daily life is a struggle for survival on the most basic level. There are warring factions that waver in their power, and to survive, people must play both sides. Mama Nadi is the proprietor of the house, and the play opens on a day when her friends brings his niece and a few other girls to the house to work. Only his niece, Sophie, has been "r ...more
Nicholas Armstrong
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
I don't like horrible things -- they make me cringe. I acknowledge what goes on in the rest of the world but if I try to bear the weight too long then I know it will crush me flat. I don't understand, then, what is very positive about story.

There is only one moment of anything positive in the whole play and it comes at the very end, the rest of the story has moments of levity from the horror but the horror is always there. Ultimately where will Mama's business go? She is broke and no one comes t
In a small mining town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mama Nadi reluctantly agrees to take on the responsibility for two girls, Sophie and Salima, because her favorite traveling salesman Christian begs her to. He bribes her with Belgian chocolates and tells her their backstories: Salima was the concubine of rebel soldiers, ripped away from her husband and family and village. Sophie is "ruined," which means her genitals are mutilated from a violent rape. Mama Nadi runs a brothel/bar tha ...more
Margaret Sankey
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Inspired by Brecht's Mother Courage, and researched by interviewing women in the Eastern Congo, this 2009 Pulitzer winner for drama is a searing look at the the lives and survival of women in conflict. Mama Nandi keeps a bar/brothel of women fed and alive despite the shifting and fragile authority of rebel and government forces over the miners who are systematically destroying the land to yield coltan and diamonds. Some of the women, like Salima, escaped from captivity as a sex slave in a rebel ...more
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzer-winners
Not bad in anyway, just not as impressive as I hoped it would be. I like the concept, but at times the execution seems a little trite. Actually, most of these "topical" kinds of plays- though sad and engaging, seem to have many of the same elements. Maybe that tells us something about mankind. I enjoyed the characters and the story is interesting, but it just wasn't all that much. Perhaps, as with most plays it is better to see it performed than to just read it.
Marwin Fernandez
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It was such a tragic drama to read. Every word of dialogue and stage direction hit me like a staccato. It was about human trafficking in the Dominion Republic of the Congo. I wished I had the privilege to witness this great drama on the stage. And also listen to the music. I loved how they provided the whole package.
Lorma Doone
Sep 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
I read this play in one sitting. I spent most of that time with my jaw open, because it is just OVERWHELMINGLY sad. But I thank Lynn Nottage for writing a play about the violence against women in the Congo - and another play that black folk like me can be in.
Chuck O'Connor
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I needed to read this for a writing class concerned with dramatic structure. This is a devastating play with air-tight structure. I loved it on many levels.
Tom Nash
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading a book can be a comforting, warming experience. A little radiator that you fire up inside your belly and brain. Lynn Nottage’s Ruined is not such an experience. Don’t settle down to it expecting a rosy, joyful time. But you can expect devastating and important questions to be asked.

Nottage’s Pulitzer-prize-winning play is set in the Democratic Republic of Congo in its most recent years, crippled by civil war. Most of the play takes place in a bar and brothel that’s situated in an area th
Jack Wolfe
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you're a dork like me, then reading plays is really exciting, because you can like something and still feel like you've gotten only a piece of it, i.e. that additional pleasures await you should you choose to actually SEE the play performed, or even ACT in the play...

On the page, "Ruined" works. It's the kinda work of art I'll forever admire: the type that deals with "issues" of the social and political stripe, but resists pat answers and propaganda. It shows how humans DEAL with their circum
Chris Cohen
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes, what happens to someone else, somewhere else, is relegated to "history," or "current events." Terrible things, like women kidnapped and raped for months or years by whichever soldiers have taken over their town, mutilated by their rapists with weapons (but to be honest, everything used in an assault is a weapon). Whole villages are destroyed, decimated by large equipment and greedy people. Villagers are displaced, chaos reigns, pain emanates from people of all ages.

This is the story L
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
I don't really see this as a play. Let me explain, it would have been better having a narrator going through these girls minds, telling you how they were felling and how these conflicts affect them mentally, is very plain this way. Instead of that, there are three or four monologues in which the girls share their experience during the conflict. And, I would like to compare it with a spanish play. There isn't any action in the play, of If is it, there is very little. I'm used to read spanish play ...more
Paul LaFontaine
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A group of women survives in a chaotic East African warzone lead by Mama, their leader, and Madam. Rebel leaders, government militia fanatics and a host of fortune hunters all converge on Mama's brothel to find each other and some sense of sanity.

Lynn Nottage shows that even a depressing circumstance like the violence of an African civil war can bring forth humanity and redemption. The characters are vibrant and the impulse to survive shines through. I got a lot from reading this play.

Rebecca Rebecca
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent play about Mama, a brothel owner in the easter DRC during the mineral conflicts. She does whatever she can to hold on to her piece of something, hoping one day to secure a place that can't be taken away. During this play, the hard-nosed business woman comes to protect a traumatized young woman who was "ruined" -- not just gang-raped, but mutilated also. Acutely observed and emotionally insightful.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Based on true stories from women Nottage spoke two while on trip in the Congo. Ruined is a play that when read is impactful, and I'm sure being seen live would be even more so. The torture that the women in this play have gone through is intense and if not for the faint of heart, as well as the things they put themselves through just to survive in their wartime homeland, where they encounter both the revels and the government on a daily basis.
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This play was inspired by Brecht's Mother Courage. It is the story of women trying to survive in the midst of civil war in the Congo. Terrible and powerful stuff that is being replicated in other war torn areas of the globe. There are vivid characters here with dialogue that rings true. It is a story that has comic aspects, tragedy, and ultimately healing. I would love to see the play, having enjoyed seeing Nottage's other work, Intimate Apparel.
Deniz Demirkurt
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays-i-ve-read
What a powerful narrative to tell the story of women who are tired of their bodies becoming battlegrounds, but keep their strength and fight for their freedom, autonomy, home, and their hopes. Lynn Nottage did an amazing job of portraying these women’s lives, their pain and their strength together and turning them into survivors and storytellers rather than victims.
The Bookaholic
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, plays
Winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

I don't know what it's about books about race and war, but I can't seem to get into most of them. This, though, is heartbreaking. I was on the verge of tears in the last scene of Act 2.
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