40 feminist writers take up fight against domestic violence in 'empowering' collection

40 feminist writers take up fight against domestic violence in 'empowering' collection

Layla Saad, Dorothy Koomson, Kate Mosse, Laura Bates and Kerry Hudson are among 40 writers contributing to a "uniquely empowering" feminist charity book collection, spearheaded by the Feminist Book Society, in collaboration with not-for-profit publishers And Other Stories in the UK and The Feminist Press in the US.

The collection, titled This is How We Come Back Stronger, brings together short stories, narrative non-fiction, interviews and poetry from a stellar line up, also including Mariam Khan, Lisa Taddeo, Sara Collins, Yomi Adegoke, Jess Philips and Lauren Bravo, as well as Gina Miller, Francesca Martinez, Glory Edim, Sophie Williams, Fatima Bhutto, Fox Fisher, Jessica Moor, Amelia Abraham, Juliet Jacques, Rosanna Amaka, Molly Case, Catherine Cho, Hafsa Qureshi, Stella Duffy, Jude Kelly, Virgie Tovar, Juli Delgado Lopera, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Akasha Hull, Michelle Tea, Kuchenga Shenje, Melissa Cummings Quarry, Natalie Carter, Helen Lederer, Mireille Harper, Sarah Eagle Heart and Radhika Sanghani.

Intended to "ignite debate, provide comfort and drive action", according to the collection's editor, Eleanor Dryden, co-founder of the Feminist Book Society and publisher of Headline Review, each of the pieces in the collection have been written during spring and summer 2020 to "imaginatively and creatively respond to this period of crisis for women and non-binary people of diverse backgrounds and experiences and, crucially, reset the agenda for the continued fight against gender inequality".

In the UK, 20% of the price of every book sold will go direct to Women's Aid and Imkaan, two UK charities working to end domestic violence, as statistics show calls to domestic abuse helplines have shot up since the coronavirus crisis began. The lockdown has had "a significant impact on the lives of women and children trapped at home with a perpetrator of domestic abuse", according to Nicki Norman, acting c.e.o. at Women's Aid, who said further the anthology "sends a powerful message" while raising "vital" funds for desperately needed services. 

Explaining the impetus for launching the ambitious international writing project, Dryden commented: "When the pandemic hit in early 2020 it became horrifyingly clear, very quickly, that essential debate, action and forward movement in the fight for gender equality were going to become harder to have, or be halted altogether. Not even a week into lockdown in the UK, we started seeing reports of heightened threat in just one area where women and non-binary people of all backgrounds and experiences were disproportionately affected by the crisis and where gender inequality is a matter of life and death – calls to domestic abuse helplines were up by 49%.

"Feeling pretty helpless as we sat isolated in our homes we used what resources we had, and have put together this international and intersectional writing project we are determined will, in some small way, turn this crisis into change. We reached out to feminist writers from the internationally influential to emerging voices. From big bestsellers and prize-winners, to activists, to beloved storytellers and to unique creators. And nearly everyone said yes!

"This book is your essential feminist companion to how we face crisis and – together – come back stronger. This is going to be the feminist collection everyone will be talking about – and buying! – in spring 2021, and we are sure that every donation from every book sold will make a difference."

Tara and Stefan Tobler, editor and publisher at And Other Stories, became involved as the collection's UK publisher, seeing the project as "a concrete and creative way to celebrate the work of feminist authors, to support victims of domestic abuse (who are some of the people most affected by this crisis), and to drive forward the fight against gender inequalities".

"The response from authors has been extraordinary, for which we are so grateful," they said jointly. "Our goal is, with their bountiful contributions, to create the book all feminist-minded booksellers and readers will want to read and share next spring."

The collection's publisher in the US is The Feminist Press, an independent non-profit literary publisher that works to advance women's rights and amplify feminist perspectives. Jamia Wilson, the press' executive director and publisher, said: "In the face of social, cultural, economic, and political inequality, it is more important than ever that those with privilege and power in the publishing industry use it to amplify visionary marginalised voices.  We hope that, through an eclectic and diverse range of pieces, readers will recognize themselves in these pages and empathically connect with others."

In a collaborative effort, beyond the collection's chosen publishers, editors from a range of houses, from Headline, Penguin, Jessica Kingsley and Pan Macmillan, among others in the trade, are also contributing their time and expertise to the project in a voluntary capacity to assist in its development. 

Sophie O’Neill, m.d. of Inpress, which is supporting sales, said: "Inpress are really excited and proud to be working on This is How We Come Back Stronger and have no doubt the trade will be hugely supportive, we can’t wait to begin the campaign. We feel privileged to work alongside And Other Stories, the Feminist Book Society and their list of amazing feminist contributors to help address the issue of domestic violence and bring about significant change."

The collection publishes in hardback, e-book and – it is "hoped" – in audio, in the UK and US in March 2021, to coincide with International Women’s Day and the first anniversary of UK lockdown. More details can be found on the Feminist Book Society's website