Virginia Prisons Accountability Committee: The Prisoners Wife By Asha Bandele: A Review

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Prisoners Wife By Asha Bandele: A Review

The book is supposedly A Love Story. But I don't know what to make of it---It's too full of recriminations, regrets, resentments, and condescension to be a result of love, as love is understood by the human condition.

The setting for this "Love" is Prison, not any prison for that matter but the insidious and
Machiavellian enterprise of an American prison, The Department of Corrections of The State of New York. The story is a reflection of the tumultuous state of American cultural expression and it's subjective, American Hearts and Minds, because if the cultural and emotional expression of the human is simply a sum of character, then love as the ultimate value of emotion and its medium culture will reflect the state and nature of its subjective. Emotion in the most sublime of conditions and environment is still a strange and mysterious beast, add the ingredient of the most alienative and perverted environmental condition known to humanity, prison and what will you have? What you should have is the sum value of human character, that baptism by fire through adversity, that qualitative redemption from the disjointedness of chaotic quantity but Ms. Bandele fails to even have an inkling of the maxim "I'm Solitude made Man" ---- Solitude which in this context is anguish, that accomplice of love, love which she claims.

The author's emotional consciousness is either objectively malnourished or her alienation from the objectivity of her femininity is so complete that she is confused, She mistakes the adventurous inclination of her Eros with that most consuming of emotions, "Love". Whether or not she wants to face up to and has the presence of mind to acknowledge it, she simply had a stimulating adventure with a prisoner, a test in that most simplistic and primitive of human urges, self-gratification in its motive of one-upmanship. As she tongue in cheek, succinctly puts it "I wanted to be important to someone again" [ pp.27]

For starters, Rashid her beloved, lover and subsequent husband is too one-dimensional and acquiescent, an emasculated corollary of collateral damage from the war between the sexes submitting disgracefully to his wife Asha's each and every undisciplined desire an infantile idealism for whatever it is and was, that was between them to be of that higher human emotion, Love, The only excusable rationalization for his behavior is the stimulus of the relationship in-it self and its satisfying impact on his "...Scorched-Earth" [pp.165] psyche was enough to overlook the dominance of his wife and that spells eunuchism.

Asha, on the other hand, would have us, readers believe that her most yearned for desire and sought for reality is to have her imprisoned mate free and with her, yet when she is impregnated, granted the germinating testimonial seed of their love, she has no problem aborting the fetus.

What is striking and revealing is at every turn of the way, their way and obstacles crop up, which in the general sense, with its solution or how they contend with it would enable their humaneness to define and give credibility to the love they purportedly share both fail its qualification pathetically. Rashid the prisoner and husband for being effeminate and obeisant to his wife's each and every indulgence and Asha the wife for misplacing her need for self-affirmation and its redemptive catharsis with love.

The author presents an unstated and treacherous premise that the pursuit of emotional, mental and physical communion between the imprisoned human and a free one is utterly unrealistic, futile and its fidelity is unattainable--- this premise itself raises the question of what role if any those higher sentient and sapient potentials of humanness plays in the condition of love, not as we misconstrue it to be but as we aspire it to be. If as we are wont to say that love has many facets and conditions then Rashid and Asha's rank at that, no greater than the sum of their undeveloped psyches. What then is Ms. Bandele telling us, "that the spirit is willing but the body is weak"? Or the whole relationship was nothing more than an academic project that is now bearing fruit with her writing a book about it.


To make a long story short "The Prisoners Wife" is a story of relationship between male and female and their dishonesty and inability in coBming to terms with the fact that they lacked the manhood and womanhood to develop, nurture and sustain love in that most stifling of environments------Prison.

I close with Asha Bandele invoked Assata Shakur's
"...If I know anything at all
it's that a wall is just a wall
and nothing more at all.


It can be brought down."
And for 219 pages made a mockery of it with erecting that most noxious of walls       
"condescension".

By William Thorpe, I am detained in Solitary Confinement at Virginias Red Onion State Prison

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