On Tuesday evening I saw the play "Ruined" at the Berkeley Rep. It's about the civil war that continues to rage in the Congo, thanks to the tragic irony that one of the poorest countries in the world also happens to be one rich in natural resources: gold, diamonds, tin, copper, petroleum, and coltan (short for columbite-tantalite, which is used as a high-charge conductor for cell phones, laptops, and other electronic equipment). So as the world continues to crave Play Stations and digital cameras, miners dig through muddy pits at gunpoint (militias with AK-47s) and receive hardly any compensation even though the Congo exports a million dollars worth of coltan a day. But if you think this is the saddest part of the story, you're mistaken.
As "Ruined" beautifully reveals, the true casualties of the war are the women. In fact, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been named the Rape Capital of the World because of the rampant abuse suffered by women who, as usual, are armed with babies instead of guns. Though the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, written by Lynn Nottage, is brutally honest in its devastation, it also manages to be funny, irreverent, and dare I say it, uplifting. Much like Dave Eggers' "What is the What," the story is so emotionally gripping that I couldn't stand for it to end.
Which brings me to my question, readers: what stories (plays, novels, shorts, etc) have broken your heart lately? How about when you were in high school? I'm looking for the right book (preferably female-authored!) for my eleventh graders to read this spring, after a year of Tony Kushner, Tennessee Williams, Aristophanes, and Jonathan Swift. Help!