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THE NATURAL WAY OF THINGS
'A Prescient Feminist Horror Novel You Need to Read:
The girls of Wood’s novel are in no dystopia. Instead, they are imprisoned by present policing of their bodies, the corrosive discrimination of political and economic systems that turns women’s bodies against them, rebuilding them as flesh and blood prisons.'
- Stassa Edwards, Jezebel.com
'Wood’s prose is beautiful, but it doesn’t coddle. The Natural Way of Things is an unapologetic confrontation of misogyny and rape culture. It’s a tough and necessary read.”
—Jakob Vala, Tin House, in The Portland Mercury
'Beautiful and savage – think Atwood in the outback.'
—Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, in The Guardian
'One of those unforgettable reading experiences.'
—Liane Moriarity, author of Big Little Lies, in The New York Times
'A ferocious new novel by the Australian Charlotte Wood whose writing recalls the early Elena Ferrante — it's tough, direct, and makes no attempt to be ingratiating ... what keeps all this from seeming doctrinaire is the book's sheer imaginative intensity. Wood's writing crackles with vivid precision ... Yolanda and Verla strip away the historical veneer of female subservience. They recreate themselves based on a deeper, more complicated vision of the natural order, one that grasps the bond between all living beings. I'd like to tell you that this is a happy ending, but Wood is too honest to offer anything so reassuringly easy. Even as her heroines begin a radical new way of living, Wood knows that the natural way of things is as risky and wild as it is free.'
- John Powers, NPR Fresh Air
'A haunting parable of contemporary misogyny ... The Handmaid’s Tale for our age of sensational media and reality television. Like Margaret Atwood’s dark vision of religious dictatorship, it is a preview of what could happen to women who rock the boat, resisting predation or asserting their own sexual freedom ... Like the surreal prison itself, Ms Wood’s writing is direct and spare, yet capable of bursting with unexpected beauty ... The sly and devastating ending makes the point: Ladies, you have been warned.'
- The Economist
'Wood takes apart the mentality of patriarchy not with a scalpel, but an axe. However, the axe cuts deep ... The Natural Way of Things is chillingly dark and unfashionably didactic. But it’s also compulsively readable, and bears its load of significance with effortless power. The fury of contemporary feminism may have found its masterpiece of horror.'
- The Guardian
'Vicious and prescient and astonishingly visceral. The Natural Way Of Things resonates with you long after you’ve read the final pages. A Handmaid’s Tale for end times, this is an important book about contemporary femininity.'
- The Believer Logger, Our Favourite Books of 2016
'The latest from Australian novelist Wood is allegory at its best, a phantasmagoric portrait of modern culture's sexual politics textured by psychological realism and sparing lyricism.'
- Publisher's Weekly
'At once brutal and beautiful ... Surreal yet intensely vivid, the novel is disturbing and enthralling ... An absorbing plot, lyrical prose, and discomfiting imagery makes Wood's novel decidedly gripping.'
- Kirkus Reviews
'What sets Wood’s The Natural Way of Things apart, what makes it a truly urgent read is that it is not an allegory and it is not a dystopian novel: it is a reality. As such, The Natural Way of Things, a work that takes the reality of misogyny and toxic cultural notions about women’s sexuality and very bluntly bulldozes those ideas, is exactly what we should be reading right now.'
- Full Stop magazine
'With echoes of Kafka and The Lord of the Flies ... Wood's raw and complex story delves into themes of friendship as two of the imprisoned form a strong yet unconventional bond through their survival efforts. It also depicts the tyranny of misogyny with the same coarse grit and degradation that scours women around the globe, while simultaneously spotlighting their courage and fortitude. Uncomfortably bold, The Natural Way of Things is an everywoman's hero tale.'
- Shelf Awareness (starred review)
'The Natural Way of Things is a virtuoso performance, plotted deftly through a minefield of potential traps, weighted with allegory yet swift and sure in its narrative advance. As an idea for a novel, it’s rich, and to achieve that idea the writer has been courageous. Her control of this story is masterful.'
- Rosemary Sorensen, The Sydney Review of Books
'It’s like digesting a living creature, one with claws still intact ... if Wood is concerned with investigating and condemning masculine violence, both in its overt manifestations and those encoded in the structure of contemporary culture, she is too much of an artist to reduce her critique to a simple binary ... the final effect is stunning.'
- AF, The Saturday Paper
'This is an extraordinary novel: inspired, powerful, at once coherent and dreamlike ... The Natural Way of Things recalls all the reading you've ever done on the subjects of capture, isolation, incarceration, totalitarianism, misogyny, and the abuse of power. It's thought-provoking in all directions.'
- Kerryn Goldsworthy, The Sydney Morning Herald / The Age