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The launch of our first ebook, ‘Women’s Work’

These five fine stories impressed me with their range, intelligence and skill.
– Margo Lanagan, foreword, Women’s Work

As a response to the debate about gender imbalance in literature and in conjunction with the development of the Stella Prize, Overland has ventured into the world of the ebook with Women’s Work, a collection of five excellent stories by new women writers, with a foreword by Margo Lanagan, and front cover illustration by Japan-based artist, Jenny Terasaki.

Overland has a long history of creating opportunity for new writers. Women’s Work is that opportunity for Anne Hotta, Georgina Luck, Helen Addison-Smith, Susie Greenhill and Cheryl Adam. It is a beautiful and diverse collection of stories that explore the politics of the environment, dignity, relationships, gender, privilege and loneliness.

Hotta’s ‘The art of ikebana’ draws on the author’s experience of Japan and with an elegant touch, artfully arranges the elements of one woman’s modest, yet binding, obsession. Luck brings us the mystery that is ‘daughter’ from a skilfully realised father’s point of view in ‘Calving’, its final paragraphs capturing the titanic shifts of the reproductive life that outwardly, can seem nothing more than a whisper. ‘She’, is a stampede of a love story; darkly funny, sexual and angry, Addison-Smith marches fearlessly into the dangerous territory of grief and obligation. The potency of the Tasmanian wilderness and the aching loneliness of the protestor is the essence of Greenhill’s ‘Forest’, where one man will sacrifice everything to unite with nature. In ‘Under the Bridge’, Adam levels the playing field when a natural disaster gives an impoverished Philippine woman control of the fate of an Australian do-gooder.

Each different in style and intention, these five writers have captured the essence of excellence in short story – the quartet of form, beauty, ease and a sense of the whole.

Women’s Work is being launched as part of the Stella Prize panel at Readings Carlton on Thursday 8 March (aka International Women’s Day). Women’s Work will be available from Overland and Readings from Friday 9 March.

When: 6.30pm, Thursday 8 March
Where: Readings Carlton (309 Lygon Street, Carlton)
Launch by: Sophie Cunningham
Cost: free, but please rsvp
Includes: panel with Monica Dux, Sophie Cunningham, Chris Flynn and Rebecca Starford: ‘Is Women’s Writing Different to Men’s?

Comments

  1. Congrats especially to you Clare Strahan, ebook editor, and to Overland on this first OL ebook venture. Shame I can’t be in Melbourne to help you celebrate its launch – sounds like it’s going to be a big night! cheers y’all, Jane GW

  2. I’ll second that – fantastic job, Clare.

    Women’s writing writ large – a very good reason to support and celebrate.

    • “Like the wonderfully strange and otherworldly Jenny Terasaki image on the cover, many of these stories have a fable-like quality …” Bethanie Blanchard, Crikey review of “Women’s Work”.

      At the risk of putting Rose (and female others) to sleep, I’ll reply to myself, as in the uncropped image, where self (“life”) appears to exchange gifts with self (“love”), with the unoccupied chair suggesting “peace of mind”, going along with Jenny Terasaki’s annotation to her image, “The Gift”. The unoccupied chair further suggesting that peace of mind is an empty signifier, beyond the structure of the gift.

      Cropping can draw attention to things inside the frame of an image, or outside the frame. By cropping the image for the “Women’s Work” collection, either “life” or “love” disappears, with the empty chair (“peace of mind”) drawing attention to things outside the image. For this cropped image I’m suggesting that it is the fable-like peace of mind of a fable-like audience that is being referred to; whereas had the image been left uncropped, the relationship would be principally between the stories themselves. And as Bethanie Blanchard states in her Crikey review, “the politics of Women’s Work is in the project, not the stories themselves”. The Women’s Work project involved and involves a lot of people outside the actual story content, from production to consumption, the very sites where work takes place in real time.

      Peace of mind can never be grasped, as work is an ongoing material process, reading included, as well as the work required to arrest gender inequality. On that basis, if you are awake still, I concur with the cropping of the image.

      • Ah,response below. But while I’m here, I’ll just say that choosing a cover can be a very difficult, fraught business and one can only hope it is received well, as, so far, this one has been.

        And it seems also, the image takes on a new life when it is put in service of something else, such as the cover of a book.

  3. Nice one Overland. ‘Bout time and let’s hope there’s more.
    I’m reminded of a statement by the Lacanian analyst and writer, Darian Leader, who wrote, “..We are all familiar with long literary descriptions and perhaps we might put forward the hypothesis that one of the functions of male writing , in contrast to that of a woman, is to send the reader to sleep.”

  4. Dennis, thank you for taking the time to write this — very interesting! And I’m glad you concur with our cover designer.

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