Novelist Chris Bohjalian tackles domestic violence

Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:07am EST
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - American novelist Chris Bohjalian's novels focus on specific issues with his latest and 12th novel, "Secrets of Eden," dealing with domestic violence.

The book, out in February, is about a woman and her alcoholic husband who are found dead in an apparent murder-suicide the day after her baptism. The reverend who baptized her is the narrator.

Bohjalian, 49, who worked in advertising before moving to writing full-time, has written about midwives, homelessness, animal rights and environmentalism since his first novel was released in 1988, winning several awards along the way.

His 1997 novel "Midwives" was an Oprah's Book Club selection and also made into a movie, as was his 1992 novel "Past the Bleachers." Bohjalian, who has been writing since he was a child, spoke to Reuters:

Q: Why domestic violence?

A: "In 1997 I was researching a book and spending time with a victims' advocate when she flicked onto the desk a photo of head indentations in sheetrock. The image was a skull print of one of her clients and told me what her client had endured and how she had kept it together for her children. It wasn't important for what I was writing then but it stuck with me."

Q: Is it something your readers will relate to?

A: "When "The Double Bind" was published in 2007 about a social worker who is sexually assaulted and the post-traumatic disorder she endures I started hearing from women all over the United States who wanted to know how I had heard their story. I hadn't, but the rape in the novel felt so real for them. It struck me how epidemic violence is against women."   Continued...