The Woman Who tells the story of a molecular biologist, Janine Vitafiel, who wants to run the marathon of New York in a burqa. Janine Vitafiel is obsessed with life – maintaining, dispersing and improving it. She is 33 years old and works in a hospital lab in the Netherlands. Her research is aimed at cloning organs, but after some incidents at work, she has been given a mandatory sabbatical.
The novel starts with her departure from the Netherlands to New York.
Janine’s father is an American born sperm doctor who moved to the Netherlands after he met her mother. She grew up in and around his fertility clinic – where her father ‘collects’ sperm and distributes it to women.
In New York City, Janine goes to look for something familiar – sperm -, and meets Marc Bryant Cullen, a 21 year old art student who made a work called ‘Take My Sperm And Be Free Of Me’. Marc is also known for walking around Times Square, carrying a cross, dressed up as Jesus.
Janine decides to help him complete his latest sperm project.
Meanwhile, she starts doing her running training while wearing a burqa, planning to disturb the marathon of New York. Not as a classical destruction terrorist, but as a ‘creation terrorist’.
The Woman Who was initially inspired by a Jean-Paul Sartre story, called “Herostratos”
In this story, a misanthropic figure named Paul Hill, longs to kill strangers on the street. Before acting upon this impotent cry for attention, Paul Hills colleagues are talking about Herostratos, a mythical figure who supposedly lit on fire the temple of Ephesus, one of the seven world wonders. They mock Herostratos, but Hill asks his colleagues: well, do you know the name of the person who build the temple? They have to admit that no, they don’t. Destruction seems to be the only claim to fame.
Janine Vitafiel tries to explore whether a constructive deed can be an act of great influence.