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28

WEDNESDAY

Scottish novelist Alison Fell’s The Pillow Boy of the Lady Oronogo has the all makings (and twice the explicit sex) of a rollicking bodice-ripper. Yet despite its 11th-century-Japan setting and cast of comely concubines, this witty tale celebrates strong-willed women and their physical needs. The steamy scenes take place in a palace, where a court poet known as the Lady Oronogo awaits her illustrious but dull lover, a general. Each time she receives word of the general’s imminent arrival, Oronogo summons blind stableboy Oyu, who hides behind a screen and whispers erotic stories to her while the unwitting general performs his ministrations below. Oronogo “could not bring herself to tell [her friend] Shikibu that it took two men to please her,” Fell writes, “although not for the first time it occurred to her that there was a certain symmetry in this, since the General himself seemed to require both wife and mistress for his satisfaction.” And aside from the political angle, there’s an element of tension: When will Oronogo and Oyu get together? The author reads at 7 p.m. at Chapters, 1512 K St. NW. FREE. (202) 347-5495. CP