Portrait(s) of a Lady: Unsettled Mothers

The party line about pregnancy and motherhood is that they are a gift. That mothers are tired, but fulfilled and filled with love for their children.

But what if they aren’t? What if they’re traumatised; scared; overwhelmed; regretful? One of the greatest taboos still present is around motherhood: we simply don’t allow women to not enjoy being a mother. Such mothers are feared, vilified, excluded.

Novelists Katixa Agirre and Sharon Dodua Otoo are breaking that taboo. The mothers in their novels are traumatised: ambivalent about their babies and their new roles, and troubled by the births they’ve suffered. They are mothers who are flawed, nuanced, unsettling and refuse to conform.

Mothers Don’t is the first of Katixa Agirre’s books to be translated into English from Basque. It begins as a mother kills her twins and another woman, the narrator, is about to give birth. She takes a leave of absence, not to nurture her baby, but to investigate the hidden truth behind the crime. It is a novel about guilt and obsession that questions our expectations of women and motherhood.

Ada’s Realm takes the reader through time and place. Sharon Dodua Otoo’s novel, translated from German, takes the reader through a small West African village in the 15th century, a Nazi concentration camp in the 20th century, 19th century Britain and 21st century Germany. It follows the lives of four women named Ada, including mathematical genius Ada Lovelace.

Join us for an event that showcases the ambition and talent of two extraordinary female novelists to talk about books rewriting the narratives of motherhood and femininity.

Chaired by Shantel Edwards.

More Info

Book Now
Birmingham Rep Theatre


Birmingham Rep Theatre
Centenary Square, Birmingham


07 Oct 2023


6:30 pm - 7:30 pm


£8 / £6.40 (concs)