The novel that launched van Herk into international acclaim, Judith charts the struggles of its eponymous protagonist as she navigates the day to day physicality of working a pig farm, as well as her struggles against her memory, the possibilities of her future, and the men who have sought to define her. Judith’s voice — alternately angry and melancholy, always defiant — works in heady conversation with that of the pigs, the mysterious, silent beings she’s chosen as her living. As the novel unfolds, it weaves the reader into ever tighter, more bewildering knots of the people who prompted her to flee from her childhood farm into the city, and back again to a farm of her own, remaking herself in the image of who she had been. Melding past and present in a narrative as intricate as memory itself, Judith explores how our homes shape us, how we find agency within the roles we can’t escape, and how every self we claim and are given leaves its mark.
“After the strangeness of the new place disappeared and when she was not there, they grunted and moaned with pleasure. Rubbing their itchy backs against the rough new wood, rooting deep into the thickness of crackling straw; she could not apprehend the sense of herself that they snuffed up, that they overtook and claimed. They reserved their wariness for her presence, waiting for her voice and her laughter, waiting for her tightness to slip and for her to reveal herself and let their common female scents mingle.”