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SUE MONK KIDD: A Soaring New Novel

In her latest novel, The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd tells a tale of the relationship between an urban slave in early-1800s Charleston and her conflicted young owner, as both struggle with the dogma of their times.

Photo Credit: Roland Scarpa

Religion is an important theme in this novel. Tell us about that.In the early 1800s, religion was often used as a way to keep slavery in place. Slaves were forced to attend the church of their owners, listen to selective dogma that kept them obedient and subservient. I wanted to portray that misuse of religious dogma and how evil can lurk in plain sight and we don’t see it. It becomes so familiar that we can even use religion to promote it and sustain it. I feel like we need to be aware of the ways we use and misuse religious dogma, whether it takes us deeper into love and inclusion or it separates us.Would you say that the two main characters, a slave named Handful and her owner, Sarah Grimke, a real-life abolitionist and feminist who inspired your story, were both struggling with faith?Sarah was a deeply religious person, and she searched for a way to relate to God and find a church that didn’t condone slavery. She was always butting up against the confines of organized religion, trying to find her voice within that construct and create change.Handful and her mother, Charlotte, were also rebelling aga …

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