Title: The Silence We Eat
Author: Oyindamola Shoola
Publisher: Okadabooks, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Year of Publication: October 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 145
The Silence We Eat is a poetic-prose that is not subtle in its telling. Oyindamola Shoola has once again skillfully and effortlessly given a voice to the silent stories of many women; the story of places we have walked and our body has survived; the trajectory of silence and how it leads us home – finding our voices. She has showed us that often times silence is deafening, detaching, choking, empty and fading but then, it becomes finding, rediscovering, healing and wholeness. Oyindamola Shoola, with this one, has proved she is not about to stop being loud with her writings anytime soon. Overall, The Silence We Eat is a book I wouldn’t have had written in any other way. It’s a celebration of our body, strength, survival, and growth as women. For me, it says silence is how we learn to become loud and loud is how we become free. Silence is how we transition to becoming.
- Ebukun Gbemisola Ogunyemi (Ibukunwrites)
The Silence We Eat is currently available for sale at N500 on Okadabooks for the month of October. The Price will increase to N1,500 in November.
Paperback copies will be available at N2,500 through Patabah Bookstore in Lagos, Nigeria on October 15, 2018.
With the rise of social movements like the #MeToo movement, which aims to allow sexual abuse victims to speak their truths, many writers hold the specious assumption that women do not have voices. There is another thought: that women have voices but do not have the courage to use them. Therefore, we have activists and advocates who shove themselves in the mouth of female victims and survivors to speak and make commentaries without having a full grasp of what the victims’ experiences are, be it domestic abuse, bullying or sexual assault.
Additionally, we have a society that prioritizes the public perspective of these victims or survivors’ lives, rather than giving room for the victims and survivors to express their own individual experiences. In some cases, to satisfy our own eagerness for progress, we are quick to bandage sorrow, pain, silence, and shame with the title: survivor and we impatiently dismiss the needs of women who are victims. The Silence We Eat reveals how, it is one thing to sympathize with victims, while it is another to empathize with them.
The Silence We Eat provides a unique and fresh perspective by focusing on the victim’s thoughts, silence, and shame. It allows readers to understand and feel the impact of their perceptions, words, and actions on women who have fallen victim of these unfortunate circumstances and survivors who have healed or are in the process of healing.
Many women are presented through stages of an unnamed but constant female character’s life from childhood through adulthood. The Silence We Eat explores the themes of love, mental and psychological health, religion, relationships, and parenthood while simultaneously touching the sensitive topics of bullying, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, and trauma.
The Silence We Eat is written as a mixture of poetry and prose that impacts even the creatives to realize that art is not a pure and single form. Short stories can be elaborate forms of poetry while poetry can be summarized forms of short stories. In The Silence We Eat readers will find a skilled and smooth mixture of quotes, poetry, poetic prose, and short stories, which is rarely found in books with themes focused on women’s issues.
Notably, The Silence We Eat caters differently to the needs of women in our communities. My goal is not to speak for another woman but to acknowledge her silence, shame, voice, and to be present through her trauma and healing process. With this book, I am saying to a young girl or a woman out there that:
I hear you even when you do not speak. I see you even when you choose to hide as a result of fear or shame. I understand you when words fail to express your feelings. I am patient with you when you need me to be. I am open to being vulnerable enough to sympathize and empathize with you in your journey. I am moving with and for you, when you are ready.
The quote on the back cover of The Silence We Eat states;
Eating Silence always give the illusion that we are full.
I believe that if we are genuinely breaking the culture of silence, we need to pay attention and listen to the silence, voices, and narratives of, and from, women who are victims and survivors. When we jump to conclusions with limited perceptions of women’s experiences and hug their stages, we unconsciously contribute to the culture of feeding women’s silence with a façade of being full.
While writing The Silence We Eat, I read a series of books including Hunger by Roxanne Gay, Rebirth by Juliana Olayode, and The Mother of All Question by Rebecca Solnit. However, a quote from Rebecca Solnit’s book stood out to me the most. In the chapter titled The History of Silence, on page 18, she writes:
“Silence is what allows people to suffer without recourse, what allows hypocrisies and lies to grow and flourish, crimes to go unpunished. If our voices are essential aspects of our humanity, to be rendered voiceless is to be dehumanized or excluded from one’s humanity. And the history of silence is central to women’s history.”
With The Silence We Eat, I intend to support the rehumanization of our womanhood, while informing all to do the same.
Oyindamola Shoola is a poet, short-story writer, book reviewer, blogger, and feminist. She is also the Co-Founder of Sprinng Literary Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting developing Nigerian writers in Literature.
In 2017, she was awarded by Nigerian Writers Award as one of the top 100 influential Nigerian Writers under the age of 40. She published her first collection of poems titled Heartbeat in 2015. Her second book titled To Bee a Honey was republished by Jeanius Publishing in March 2018 and her third book titled The Silence We Eat will be released in October 1, 2018.
Oyindamola Shoola is currently a student at NYU, pursuing a major in Organizational Behavior and Change.