E-book review: Orange is the New Black

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 June, 2016, 3:50pm


Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman Spiegel & Grau (e-book)

Knowing the book is about a woman's imprisonment in the US, you expect to read about violence, drugs, sexual abuse, sadistic guards, and the like. Instead, the year spent by 'ex-lesbian, boho-Wasp' Piper Kerman in a federal women's jail in Connecticut - in connection with a drug-smuggling operation - proved contrary to such popular conceptions. As she acknowledges, her biggest discomfort was the lack of privacy. There were rules, such as the one that forced inmates to pull their pants down, squat and cough (to ensure nothing was being concealed), but hers was also a prison in which inmates decorated each other's rooms to celebrate birthdays and made coffee for each other. Some even lived with seeing-eye dogs that they were training. Kerman's crime was to have helped launder money for an ex-lover, whom she meets again at the end of her prison term. The message she tries to convey is that the US justice system 'overpunishes, fails to rehabilitate and doesn't make us safer'. Readers can make up their own minds about whether Kerman deserved being jailed.