Anticipated Reads: Women in Writing
By Anna Heywood, Alfie Kimmins, Georgia Wells, Meg Jones and Sarah Ernestine
The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness, by Meghan O’Rourke
1 March, Riverhead Books
Reflecting on her personal experiences, armed with the advice and opinions of several medical professionals, Meghan O’Rourke investigates the hidden world of chronic illness. Often invisible to the naked eye and generally stigmatised, or misunderstood, these chronic illnesses include all autoimmune diseases, post-treatment Lyme disease and, most recently, long COVID-19. In this all-telling autobiography, O’Rourke pushes for a change in the ways in which the world views chronic illness in both medical and societal settings. The Invisible Kingdom offers a key exploration into the history and current treatment of chronic illness, allowing for a clear understanding of the diagnosis. O’Rourke provides a sanctuary to anyone suffering from, or living with, these illnesses, providing them with hope and cutting-edge medical information but, most importantly, a voice.
The Old Woman with the Knife, by Gu Byeong-mo
3 March, Canongate Books
Originally translated from Korean, The Old Woman with the Knife tells the story of Hornclaw, an assassin in her sixties thinking of retiring from the game.
Great for fans of Killing Eve’s Villanelle or quirky female assassins in general, The Old Woman with the Knife follows Hornclaw, who is starting to make mistakes while working for her “disease control” firm, and an ambitious younger assassin, who is starting to take notice. An isolated older woman with only her dog, Deadweight, for company, Hornclaw starts to remember the devastating journey that led her to her current circumstances. As funny as it is sad, The Old Woman with the Knife makes the perfect read for anyone looking for something a little bit different.
Smile and Look Pretty, by Amanda Pellegrino
8 March, Park Row
Assistants to some of the most powerful people in the entertainment industry, best friends Cate, Lauren, Olivia and Max are overworked and underpaid. To progress, the women are expected to fulfil trivial, degrading tasks and accept verbal abuse to prove that they have “served their time” at the bottom.
As possibilities of promotion pass them by and they begin to reach their breaking point, the women come up with an idea: an anonymous blog detailing their awful experiences. As the blog grows in popularity, more and more people come forward to expose their similarly unfair treatment. However, as their rising fame risks their identities being revealed, the women fear the consequences of speaking out against those above them, who abuse their power.
Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative, by Melissa Febos
15 March, Catapult
The award-winning author of Girlhood and Abandon Me is back with a hybrid memoir and instruction manual, drawing from her personal experience as an aspiring writer to coach writers and non-writers alike on the benefits of personal storytelling. Melissa Febos explores how our influences and perceptions shape our understanding of narrative, and examines the criticism and praise her work has received. Intertwining her experiences of academia, addiction and sex work, she questions how our relationships – with ourselves, our bodies and the people close to us – are revealed on the page. It is a guide to the intricacies of intimate writing and a captivating memoir of liberation and intelligence.
Julia and the Shark, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
16 March, Orion Children’s Books
Kiran Millwood Hargrave has stood apart as a front-running author for several years, known for her beautiful use of language, sense of place and vibrant characters. She is rapidly becoming one of the most influential authors of children’s fiction in the UK and abroad. Her latest title, Julia and the Shark, has swept readers off their feet, whisking them away to a remote island off the northern coast of Scotland.
When Julia’s parents move to the island for the summer, she finds herself on a grand new adventure. Her mother searches for the illusive Greenland shark, a creature that soon begins to live in Julia’s mind. This book shares a beautiful story of mental health, environmental crisis and hope through the eyes of a young child. The gorgeous paperback will be in bookshops just in time for the summer holidays. So, grab a copy, head to the beach and dive into the amazing adventure that is Julia and the Shark.