‘The Mullerian Eminence’ by Leone Ross

The wonderful British writer Leone Ross attended one of the Word Factory literary soirees, at which I work, alongside the organisation’s founder Cathy Galvin, and gave a reading of this deeply strange and supernatural story, ‘The Mullerian Eminence’ from her collection Come, Let Us Sing Anyway (and I immediately went away to devour the other twenty-two stories in that exceptional book). Everyone in the room, as Ross read it out loud, was spellbound as we heard this magic-realist story about disembodied hymens, which slide with ease out of their host bodies, carelessly discarded; only to end up gathering dust behind a cupboard or to be stumbled over on the streets of the city. Each one, like a fingerprint, is unique and has a tale to tell: “A golden cobweb”, “thin silk”, “glimmering wrought iron”. The medical phrase found in the title, “Mullerian eminence”, refers to the hymen which, apparently, has no useful part to play in the anatomy of a body. Before long, a man discovers these superfluous cast-offs, and is able to tune into their chorus, as they recount their experience of sexual violence. ‘The Mullerian Eminence’ was such a surreal, strange and deeply powerful story – listening to it was something like a hallucination – that nobody could speak for a few minutes afterwards… until the applause began.

First published in Closure: Black British Contemporary Writing, edited by Jacob Ross, Peepal Tree Press, 2015. Collected in Come, Let Us Sing Anyway, Peepal Tree Press, 2017

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