Unsent Letters to my Mother. By Adriana Páramo. ISBN 978-0-915745-23-4. $22.95.
Unsent Letters to My Mother combines the skills of an anthropologist with the eye of a storyteller, making visible perspectives seldom explored in either literature or journalism: the expatriate woman in Kuwait, the woman as border-crosser, and the stories of struggle that rise above tragedy and travesty to highlight perseverance and hope. It is also a window into a hidden culture largely overlooked in the West, one in which slavery is alive and well, and back-street abortions, alcoholism, drug-smuggling, prostitution, domestic violence, and social inequality are as rampant as in any country of the Western hemisphere.
The book is also a powerful testament to the author’s journey, as a woman as well as an anthropologist. The women’s stories and the analyses of the culture are all interspersed with the author’s evocative epistolary accounts of her failing marriage, an extra-marital affair, and her humiliating departure, all set against the backdrop of a wealthy kingdom torn between Muslim traditions and Westernization. Páramo merges ethnography, memoir, research, quest, epistolary, and poetry, inventing the language to describe a sustained exploration of women’s lives in Kuwait.