Woman hiding behind a curtain

When a female protagonist is subsumed by everyone she meets, even when she’s supposed to be the center of attention, is this a statement about women in society?

When she is possibly troubled, is this a statement about people with emotional scars in society?

When she is a novelist, is this a statement about writers in society?

In Kudos, the third novel in a trilogy by Rachel Cusk, we watch the protagonist listen politely, over and over, to others’ stories. Why does she contribute to conversations so sparingly? Why does she rest in a laissez-faire mode that’s equal parts courtesy and indifference? Is she hiding her emotions? Is she so numb that she can’t feel them? Is she naturally emotionless? Has she given up on asserting herself because she fears being underestimated due to her gender? Is she overwhelmed by past events, about which we know very little, and fearful that engaging with people will bring unpleasant facts or feelings to the surface? Does she view herself as a journalist of life, wishing only to observe people and write novels about them, while eschewing normal relationships?

What is the correlation here—between a woman and a robot, between an emotionally repressed person and a robot, or between a novelist and a robot?

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