Fiction by Adria Bernardi
University of Alabama Press/FC2, August 2022
Benefit Street by Adria Bernardi is set in an unnamed provincial capital of an unnamed country and tells of a wide circle of friends—teachers, lawyers, missionaries, doctors, artisans—in a time of gathering and dispersal. It tells the story of mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, colleagues, and neighbors, as war to the East threatens and constitutional rights are daily eroded by an increasingly authoritarian regime. The ideals of youth, freedom, and coexistence are severely tested with the shocking revelation that the charismatic leader of their group has sexually abused the women under his care. The limits of reconciliation are tested as Şiva makes an arduous journey into the mountains to meet an estranged mother with a genius for weaving complex rugs.