Tashi, the young African woman who appears briefly in The Color Purple as Celie’s daughter-in-law and Adam’s wife, gets a novel of her own in Possessing the Secret of Joy. Her story traces individual and cultural motivations for female ‘circumcision’ in Africa and systematically charts the deleterious effects of that practice upon women, children, and ultimately society as a whole. Told through the multiple voices of Tashi and members of her family, as well as those of the anthropologist Pierre and the psychotherapists Jung/Mzee and Raye, the story begins with Tashi’s African childhood and ends with her death. She is executed at the hands of the post-colonial government in her country of birth, for murdering M’Lissa, the woman who ‘circumcised’ her and her sister Dura, who bled to death after the operation.
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