On a Woman’s Madness

Finalist, National Book Awards 2023 for Translated Literature

ISBN 9781949641431
Two Lines Press
Author photo of Astrid Roemer. (Photo credit: Raúl Neijhorst)
Astrid Roemer

In 1966, at the age of 19, Astrid Roemer emigrated from Suriname to the Netherlands. She was awarded the P.C. Hooft Prize in 2016, and the Dutch Literature Prize (Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren) in 2021. More about this author >

Lucy Scott

Lucy Scott is a translator of Dutch and French literature. Her short story and essay translations thus far have appeared in Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee Review and in Wilderness House Literary Review. More about this author >

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Translated from the Dutch

From the publisher:

A classic of queer literature that’s as electrifying today as it was when it originally appeared in 1982, On a Woman’s Madness tells the story of Noenka, a courageous Black woman trying to live a life of her choosing. When her abusive husband of just nine days refuses her request for divorce, Noenka flees her hometown in Suriname, on South America’s tropical northeastern coast, for the capital city of Paramaribo. Unsettled and unsupported, her life in this new place is illuminated by the passionate romances of the present but haunted by society’s expectations and her ancestral past.

Translated into sensuous English for the first time by Lucy Scott, Astrid Roemer’s intimate novel—with its tales of plantation-dwelling snakes, rare orchids, and star-crossed lovers—is a blistering meditation on the cruelties we inflict on those who disobey.

Judges Citation

On a Woman’s Madness is a journey through the psyche of a woman who will not conform to her world’s expectations. With sensual prose punctuated by dreams and memories, Astrid Roemer paints both a portrait of queer survival and a landscape of Suriname, a setting unfamiliar to many English-language readers. Lucy Scott’s translation captures the shifting tones of this provocative and relevant story, giving us a novel with all the makings of a new classic.


Astrid Roemer and Mateo Askaripour, reading for Lucy Scott, at 2023 Nat. Book Awards Fin. Reading