There’s a scene in Kootenay author Angie Abdou’s new novel Between where her character Vero suffers a nervous breakdown and locks herself in a pantry.
“That moment will never make it on Facebook,” said Abdou, who will be hosting a literary discussion with Deryn Collier at Oxygen Art Centre on October 9 at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s amazing, the amount of pressure we put on ourselves as women and as parents, to have successful careers, to look fabulous, keep the house clean and basically do everything. People are overburdened, but we have this way we present ourselves in public like everyone’s living a perfect life. Everyone’s kids are perfect. We put up this social media front that is so false,” she said.
This is only one of the topics she will tackle during her discussion with Collier, who she’s been close friends with since she released her first collection of fiction nearly a decade ago. The two will have a conversation, and will invite feedback from the audience.
“Kootenay writers tend to stick together,” said Abdou.
Between follows two characters, a suburban mother named Vero and her live-in nanny Ligaya. Abdou describes it as a satire of upper middle class life. The narrative explores themes around contemporary parenthood, foreign workers, consumerism and environmentalism.
“I think we’re over-extended and distracted in a way previous generations of parents haven’t been. It’s partly because of social media and technological advancement, it’s partly because feminism has succeeded. But there hasn’t been a magically produced solution for all the work to be done at home,” she said.
And though many families may resort to hiring foreign nannies, like Abdou’s family did, she said the decision is fraught with conflicting emotions. She interviewed five Filipino nannies as part of her research.
“I was completely shocked by the kind of poverty they described. Essentially these women were being treated as slaves, living in closets, working incredibly long hours. I think I was uncomfortable with the idea of essentially taking advantage of a third world person’s life to make my first world life easier,” she said.
“We draw these women here with a promise that if they put in their time, their lives will get better. But I don’t really see how that’s going to happen for most of these women.”
Abdou will also discuss environmentalism. In her book, Vero’s husband Shane is a cycling enthusiast who believes the bike will save civilization.
“However, he’s got a garage packed full of bikes, so much gear. That’s something people in Nelson and Fernie will identify with. It’s a sport that’s meant to be so simple, but then consumerism gets its claws in and we have to buy more and more bikes. We’re distracted from what matters because we’re obsessed with consuming.”
For more information visit abdou.ca.