Otoyomegatari is an ongoing manga series by Kaoru Mori, the same artist who brought us Emma. It is published in English by Yen Press in a beautiful hardcover edition, translated as A Bride’s Story, and chronicles the life of Amira with her younger groom and her relationship with her tribe as well as the cultural observations of Dr. Smith, an English doctor, in the Central Turkic area in the late 19th century. Mori’s love for details is evident both in her luscious artwork and her well-researched historical tidbits thus winning in 2014 the 7th Annual Manga Taishō Award.
In the 7th volume (chapters 36-44), which is going to be published in English towards the end of 2015, we meet Anis, a beautiful slender woman, hidden away in a huge mansion by her rich beloved husband according to the customs of the region -probably Iran, judging from the clothes. To make her mistress feel less lonely, her servant suggests going to the bathhouse to befriend other women and this opens a whole new world for her. Shirin, a poor voluptuous woman, catches her eye and they connect quickly. What makes this arc special is that the focus is on a second type of marriage, equally established and esteemed; that between “sisters”: siqqah-yi khwahar khwandagi. Did you really think same-sex marriage was a 21st century invention? Let us take a look at same-sex desire, the customs and the sexual politics of Middle East depicted in A Bride’s Story. Continue reading