Through a remarkable blend of intellectual history, philosophical reading, and contemporary cultural analysis, Fruits of Sorrow explores the hidden dynamics at work when we try to make sense of suffering. Spelman examines the complex ways in which we try to redeem the pain we cause and witness. She also shows the way our responses are often more than they seem: how compassion can mask condescension; how identifying with others’ pain often slips into illicit appropriation; how pity can reinforce the unequal relationship between those who cause and those who endure suffering.
Fruits of Sorrow is a rare book. It recasts an important human concern in illuminating, memorable, and constructive terms. Spelman reframes enduring debates over human suffering by asking whose suffering gets attention, by whom, and for what purposes. . . . With elegance, honesty, and integrity, Spelman reveals the eerie proximities of compassion and domination, empathy and appropriation. Fruits of Sorrow is a crucial guide for any accidental traveler in the domain of thinking, feeling, and caring. —Martha Minow, professor of law, Harvard Law School
“Spelman has written a genuine and perceptive book.” —Publishers Weekly
“Fruits of Sorrow points the way toward forms of moral engagement that combine intensity of commitment with complexity, openness, vulnerability and deeper levels of understanding.” —Paul Rosenberg, Fall Book Quarterly