The Wisdom of Whores is a blog that focuses on themes raised in Elizabeth Pisani’s new book, also called The Wisdom of Whores. When Elizabeth first proposed a book about sex, drugs and the AIDS industry, a lot of people rolled their eyes. Another worthy-but-dull AIDS book? Please, no! But The Wisdom of Whores is not terribly worthy, and it is certainly not dull. Essentially, it is a book about getting high, getting laid and getting money. Lots of money.
Meet the author, in conversation with a sex worker.
The Wisdom of Whores punches holes in many of the orthodoxies that have grown up around HIV. It shows how more premarital sex could lead to less HIV in Asia and Latin America. It points out how dangerous it is for young men in Africa to get married, now that so many young women are bringing HIV into the honeymoon suite. It questions the effectiveness of many of the best funded HIV prevention initiatives. And it does it all with solid science and a wry sense of humour. Author Elizabeth Pisani has spent ten years working as a scientist in the belly of the bloated AIDS industry.
This book unfolds a universe of brothels and bureaucracies, of bickering junkies and squabbling charities, of men who sell sex and men who would rather prohibit it. We’re endlessly told that HIV is about poverty and underdevelopment and human rights. But in the pink neon of Asia’s red light districts, HIV is mostly about people doing dumb things in the pursuit of pleasure or money. We’re just not supposed to say so. The Wisdom of Whores throws political correctness to the winds. It describes how we could shut down HIV in most of the world with a few, simple steps. It suggests that we could do it with less money than we already have. And it explains why we won’t.
This book shows how politics, ideology. and money– lots of money — have bulldozed through scientific evidence and common sense. Transgender prostitutes and drug injectors in Indonesia, policemen and sex workers in Cambodia, UN bureaucrats and ambassadors in East Timor, Christian campaigners in the United States — all appear in the book and have their say about what we should be doing differently. But all, the author included, are trying to sell themselves to the highest bidder. In the AIDS industry, the author concludes, we are all whores.
The Wisdom of Whores is published in the UK by Granta, in Canada by Penguin, and in the US by WW Norton. The Dutch language editions is published in the Netherlands by Nieuw Amsterdam. In South Africa, the book is distributed by Penguin South Africa.The Indonesian translation, published by Serambi, will be in bookstores in July, and an Italian edition, published by ISBN, is due in the autumn.
Read extracts from the book.
The Wisdom of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.