The Simple Art of Killing a Woman


By Patrícia Melo

cover image of The Simple Art of Killing a Woman

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From best-selling Brazilian novelist Patrícia Melo comes a genre-defying tale of women in the Amazon and their reckoning with brutal oppression—by turns poetic, humorous, dark, and inspiring.

The Simple Art of Killing a Woman vividly conjures the epidemic of femicide in Brazil, the power women can hold in the face of overwhelming male violence, the resilience of community despite state-sponsored degradation, and the potential of the jungle to save us all.

To escape her newly aggressive lover, a young lawyer accepts an assignment in the Amazonian border town of Cruzeiro do Sul. There, she meets Carla, a local prosecutor, and Marcos, the son of an indigenous woman, and learns about the rampant attacks on the region's women, which have grown so commonplace that the cases quickly fill her large notebook. What she finds in the jungle is not only persistent racism, patriarchy, and deforestation, but a deep longing for answers to her enigmatic past. Through the ritual use of ayahuasca, she meets a chorus of Icamiabas, warrior women bent on vengeance—and gradually, she recovers the details of her own mother's early death.

The Simple Art of Killing a Woman resists categorization: it is a series of prose poems lamenting the real-life women murdered by so many men in Brazil; a personal search for history, truth, and belonging; and a modern, exacting, and sometimes fantastical take on very old problems that, despite our better selves, dog us the world over.

The Simple Art of Killing a Woman