The Chain

Chimene Suleyman

The Chain
Orion Publishing Co
United Kingdom
26 March 2024

The Chain

Chimene Suleyman

In January 2017, Chimene Suleyman was on her way to an abortion clinic in Queens, New York with her boyfriend, the father of her nascent child. It was the last day they would spend together. In an extraordinary sequence of events, Chimene was to discover the truth of her boyfriend's life: that she and many other women had been subtly, patiently and painfully betrayed.

In this spellbinding memoir, she exposes one man's control over many women and the trauma he left behind, and celebrates the sisterhood that formed in his wake despite - and in spite of - him. Exploring how women are duped every day by individuals, she interrogates how society itself continually allows this to happen. She demonstrates that, no matter how intelligent, educated or self-aware they might be, over time a woman can be played into performing the age-old role of giver and nurturer: self-sacrificing and subordinate.

Both a devastating personal testimony and a searing indictment of persistent misogyny, The Chain is a book for any woman who has questioned her relationship and buried her doubts, for any woman who can't quite identify the source of her unease and for any woman who has been sheltered by the fierce protection of her female friends.


In January 2017, Turkish-Cypriot London-raised author Chimene Suleyman sat in an abortion clinic in Queens, imagining her boyfriend sitting in the waiting room, ready to take her home. The closest she’d get to seeing him again was on her apartment building’s CCTV as he carried away all of his possessions (and some of her own).

Discovering by chance a month later that she was just one of many women who he had isolated, impregnated, abandoned, manipulated and financially drained, so begins an ode to the power of female community in the face of seemingly untouchable perpetrators of abuse.

It is impossible not to wonder who he is. Scrolling back through Suleyman’s Instagram you can recognise the faces of the friends and family who helped her recover but his identity is hidden. I think for every reader he will wear a different face – the truth of his identity concealed behind Suleyman’s commitment to italics. He could be any one of the countless comedians who’ve waited out what they think to be an ‘appropriate period of reflection’ before resurfacing to make jokes at the expense of women they will deny a voice to – but Suleyman has a voice, and she’s not just speaking for herself.

While the first pages of this heart-wrenching memoir may wobble on angry, grieving and uncertain feet, as Suleyman recovers her strength the writing does too. The Chain is led by Suleyman’s voice, but strengthened by the harmonies of her friends, mother and fellow ex-girlfriends in arms, who remind us that this unbelievable story is true – because both for her and for her readers, it is almost impossible to believe this could actually happen until it is corroborated.

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