Review: Jasmine Sawers’ The Anchored World
Jasmine Sawers’ debut collection, The Anchored World, draws from the Bible, fairy-tales, folklore, Aesop’s Fables and many other sources for her atavistic, story-telling style. The journey-in-exile, the birth-of-the-King, the casting-off of the “fallen” woman by the side of the road all smell of the Old Testament in the best possible way. But there’s more: an underpinning of commentary concerning the disposability of femmes in service of toxic masculinity. It’s very clear from the get-go what Sawers can do in the space of a page. Reader, beware!
In their first piece, “Still Life with Conch Shell,” one is immediately reminded of Angela Carter, the British author who re-imagined fairy tales through a fierce feminist lens. In “How to Commit Suicide,” Jasmine Sawers goes there. Not only is this wry piece of flash fiction a dissertation of methods of killing oneself but also a story-within-a-story of domestic abuse and gaslighting. Ooooof. There is also a whiff of Margaret Atwood here, particularly The Handmaid’s Tale.
“Fairest,” is an economical examination of the Snow White myth with oblique reference to the Kardashianism of today: the plastic surgery, the cutting and slicing in a fruitless Instagram search for physical perfection. This is where the writing is most redolent of Angela Carter.
“Dragon Petal and Lotus Flame Go Home”, gives more insight, perhaps, into the author’s own story, with its referencing of an Asian immigrant US experience. The Statue of Liberty looms large over an anti-Asian bias in the USA of today, a Trump-era dystopia.
“Bloodberries,” is a prose poem, or is it flash fiction, or does it matter? This short piece is a myth – a bloody, sweet and juicy myth, also thorny and bitter – like all of the singular, genre-defying original work in this slim and powerful book.
Sawers uses the stuff of fairy-tale to write universal truths that are simultaneously rooted in the collective unconscious and also being enacted today in the world of social media and dating apps. In 1849, French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr wrote “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” (the more things change, the more they stay the same). Turbulent changes do not affect reality on a deeper level other than to cement the status quo. In the world of Jasmine Sawers, Aesop’s Fables collides with Grindr while Cinderella guest-stars on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”
Get a copy of The Anchored World by Jasmine Sawers HERE.
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