Women who Write #5: LENI ZUMAS, “Red Clocks” (2018)

40 Ways You Will Love This Book

I loved this book in so many ways. I don’t want to spill the plot or surmise at the value of the characters or gush on the specific ways in which I relate to this wonderful, intelligently funny work of terrifying truths but, as I was reading, I tracked the topical throughlines that stood out to me as being important and inspiring.

Get a copy, read through, and love it all in the following 40 ways (categorized as best as possible):


we cry we cry and complain about the impossible holes in the science of ovaries, vaginas, eggs, no big deal, it’s just THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD that we hold in our bodies and, somehow, it constantly feels that women struggle to have our health taken seriously, at least in a way that gives us control. The biological cul de sacs we can’t help but live within are brilliantly vivid in this book. I must have hugged the novel at least five times. With the family planning laws invented in the world of this book, women undergo extensive pressure to understand their bodies and the questions/quotes that arise are magnificent.

  1. “Whatever you do, don’t douche” (pg 6)…and other overall AMAZING vagina quotes
  2. Biology, Exploration, Obstacles
  3. “What would Brian make of her clapping Labia?” (pg 211)
  4. Unexplored territories of our Health
  5. Witches
  6. Eyebrows, body hair, moles
  7. Image
  8. “What is a cunt?”
  9. Discovery, self-discovery, discovery from one woman to another, even in the way they react to each other
  10. Repellent Women, definitive ugliness


    where do the pressures come from, who really invents these pressures for us and how do we battle societal expectations without letting go of our own wants? It constantly feels as though men are in such an easy position to take advantage of women and women are left to deal with surprising levels of male entitlement but, after reading this novel, I truly wonder: Where does that entitlement come from? Are we inherently intimidated by men because we feel we owe them a part of our bodies? I don’t know. Thematically, I juggled thoughts on the following:

  11. Family
  12. Legislated Values
  13. Punishment Vs. Protection
  14. Survival
  15. Are any of these women worried or are they in tune with the status quo?
  16. Fear
  17. What we choose to believe
  18. Decisive facts
  19. Children
  20. Needs
  21. Selfish. But she has a self, why not use it.”


    can we make it all the way to the horizon or are we just constantly staring at it, wondering why it’s taunting us, repeating affirmations, visiting therapists, blaming our parents and the men in our lives for keeping us back. How do we keep going? Where are we going? And, do we really have to apologize if we never find The Place? Men have spent centuries searching for lost places. Can’t we have our turn?

  22. Leaving, husband, children, in general
  23. Boredom
  24. Displacement
  25. Decisions
  26. Average Vs. Desperate
  27. “You do realize, I hope, that a child is not a replacement for a romantic partner?
  28. Fulfillment
  29. Voyage
  30. “I have been lifted off the Earth to set on the ocean with men whose lives are nothing like mine yet whose waking dreams are identical.” (pg 227)


    men in this world are worried about very little other than the things they choose to obsess over and women have no choice but to worry about the state of their biological health, worth and relevance at all times. The context of this novel gives great weight to one of my favourite discussions: Mars Vs. Venus, if it even matters (but clearly it kind of does)

  31. The problems men choose to have
  32. “I think we connect well sexually and intellectually, but not emotionally and spiritually.” (173) (this is spoken by a man and I literally orated “EW” in public)
  33. Savagery
  34. Saying No
  35. Emotional Exchanges

    #36-40 GREAT WRITING

    I reserved these for last but I cannot praise the writing of this novel enough. It brilliantly refers to history and medicine with flawless contextual support. The narrative is tricky but sweet, easy to connect but challenging to keep up with and the relative stakes between genders, characters, age demographics….it’s all very brilliant. Read this novel. Read it. Read it.

  36. Medicine
  37. History
  38. (Un)Complicated Narrative
  39. Relative stakes
  40. Humour


I’ve started reading and curating a list of “100 Women Who Write”. To follow the full list, you can find me posting each novel on Instagram @rachelganz.

If you’re reading work written by women, take a pic and post on Insta! #100womenwhowrite. I would love recommendations or just to hear about brilliant ladies who know how to tell stories, make points, craft chaos, work magic….etc.


love love,