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About the Book & Author

The Cleft by Doris Lessing

Photo: The Cleft

Doris Lessing, one of England's finest living novelists, invites us to imagine a mythical society free from sexual intrigue, free from jealousy, free from petty rivalries: a society free from men.

An old Roman senator, contemplative at his late stage of life, embarks on what will likely be his last endeavor: the retelling of the story of human creation. He recounts the history of the Clefts, an ancient community of women living in an Edenic, coastal wilderness, confined within the valley of an overshadowing mountain. The Clefts have no need nor knowledge of men -- childbirth is controlled, like the tides that lap around their feet, through the cycles of the moon, and they only bear female children. But with the unheralded birth of a strange, new child -- a boy -- the harmony of their sexless community is suddenly thrown into jeopardy.

In this fascinating and beguiling novel, Lessing confronts head-on the themes that inspired much of her early writing: how men and women, two similar and yet thoroughly distinct creatures, manage to live side by side in the world, and how the troublesome particulars of gender affect every aspect of our existence.

About Doris Lessing, winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature: "Doris Lessing is the kind of writer who has followers, not just readers," Lesley Hazleton once observed. But Lessing, whose classic novel The Golden Notebook was embraced as a feminist icon, has seldom told her followers exactly what they wanted to hear. For much of her career, she has frustrated readers' expectations and thwarted would-be experts on her work, penning everything from traditional narratives to postmodern novels to mystic fables. Meet the Writer.

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