Author Daniel H. Wilson tells New Yorker Festival of ‘parable about prejudice’

“The idea of writing a story out of my memory,” writer Daniel H. Wilson told the audience at the New Yorker Festival on Thursday, “is one of the more important things about storytelling.” And, sure enough, he did tell a story about a woman who was banished to the desert from her own house—and wanted nothing more than to get that sack back.

Wilson’s third novel, The Bloody Chamber (Macmillan, $32.99), is the true story of Asmaa, a girl whom, at age 10, was banished from her village. When she returns, she discovers the byzantine life of a warrior prince who lives in the desert.

“It’s a parable that’s really about prejudice,” Wilson told the audience, “but it’s not a parable about misogyny. It’s about prejudice—about people who think that a woman is not capable of things.”

The Bloody Chamber is as rough and tumble as its subject. Asmaa must spy on her father-in-law, who also threatens to remarry her to her beloved but late-husband’s brother. Wilson said that the scene in which he murders the woman he married in was inspired by a real murder, the 1992 death of a young woman strangled by her own father-in-law.

“It’s amazing,” Wilson said, “that you get a chance to unload on the head of your family, and sort of show that it’s all good! I was thrilled to get the chance to, almost.”

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