Fourth Estate has signed the debut short story collection by Danielle Pender, founder of women's magazine Riposte.
Michelle Kane, PR and publishing director, acquired world rights to Watching Women and Girls directly from the author, for publication in May 2022.
Each story in the collection will examine how women in society are viewed and the impact that constant surveillance has on all of our lives. The publisher explained: “This continuous gaze polices their actions, their bodies, their sexuality, their relationships and ambitions. Watching Women & Girls dissects this omnipotent gaze and interrogates what happens when it is returned, what life can be like when you stare back.”
The stories cover a range of relationships from mother and daughters through to lovers, difficult colleagues, deep friendships and an online dominatrix and her client. The collection deals with wider issues of sexuality, race, gentrification, class and “aims to make the point that no matter how long we look at ourselves or each other, we very rarely see the truth”.
Pender founded Riposte in 2013, a bi-annual print publication offering a diverse and nuanced reflection on the lives of modern women which has attracted a loyal readership and following world-wide. She has also written for publications including Refinery 29, It’s Nice That and Apartamento, among others.
She said: “I am very excited to be working with Michelle Kane and the 4th Estate team! These stories touch on issues I have lived with and observed for a long time. I wanted to explore the impact that the male gaze has on a woman’s internal and external life, how we perform for it even when we wish it wasn’t there, how we absorb, internalise and project sexist/misogynistic messages even though we know they’re trash. At a time when we willingly offer ourselves up for consumption online I’m interested in what that experience has done to how we see ourselves and each other. I’m also fascinated with women watching each other, how we watch our friends, sisters, mothers, lovers, and women in the wider media for clues on how to be in the world. I hope readers find the characters and stories relatable and that the stories bring to light some topics that aren’t often easily discussed.”
Kane added: “I have long admired Danielle and her work at the helm of Riposte magazine, a platform which foregrounds the female experience in a much more bold, liberating and representative way than others which are aimed at a female audience. This collection of stories is observationally acute, darkly funny and totally relatable. It moves back and forth between different lenses of perception in an often disquieting and unsettling way and I’m beyond thrilled that’s Danielle has chosen 4th Estate as the team to take Watching Women and Girls out to widest possible audience.”