***Winner of the 2020 National Book Critics Circle’s Award for autobiography***
In Know My Name the survivor of the Stanford sexual assault case tells her story.
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“It’s interesting because the testimony that became viral is an appendix to this book: it’s the last thing that you experience as a reader. I think that was a smart strategy, because it removes the notion of feeling that you already know the story. The memoir, Know My Name, is written in a very different kind of register. Obviously her statement was meant to be a public statement. She wanted to be heard not just by Brock Turner, but also anybody who has been a victim of sexual assault.
What’s really remarkable to me about Know My Name is the depth of self-interrogation that Chanel Miller does throughout this book. There is a lot of questioning, because she is forced to do it. She’s forced to do it because of the questions that she is getting by Brock Turner’s defense lawyers, who are trying to cast aspersions on her. They’re trying to reframe her as an illegitimate person. They’re trying to reframe her as a liar. They’re trying to reframe her as part of a larger culture, that says that a woman who has been sexually assaulted was ‘asking for it’ in some way.
She realizes that there are so many attempts to reframe her as a person that it is clear that she has had to work very, very hard emotionally, not just to understand her own feelings and emotions and experiences, but to find a way to articulate them that is clear.
She has a very interesting story to tell—about not just that experience of the sexual assault, but the recovery from it. Her engagement in art, and in some ways the way that she was saved by art. I don’t know if the cover is different in the UK, but here it mimics the Japanese pottery style Kintsugi, which emphasizes the breaks in something as opposed to trying to cover them up, which is a wonderful metaphor for what she is doing.
On the sheer level of being somebody who is writing about an experience as deeply and as thoroughly as one possibly can, I think Know My Name is an exemplar of the form.” Read more...