BURN IT DOWN by Lilly Dancyger


Women Writing About Anger
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An editor and journalist gathers 22 essays from a diverse group of contemporary women writers about the nature of modern female rage.

Catapult contributing editor Dancyger creates a cathartic space for both well- and lesser-known writers to express the various ways in which their anger has manifested in their lives. The opening essay, Leslie Jamison’s “Lungs Full of Burning,” sets the tone for the rest of the book. For years, Jamison took pride in being “someone who wasn’t prone to anger” until she realized that the sadness she often felt was really a manifestation of a rage society would not let her own. Monet Patrice Thomas follows Jamison with a discussion of how society considers angry black women to have “an attitude” and how, in general, they are allowed to feel only one emotion: fear. Reclaiming anger—and an abused body—is at the heart of Rios de la Luz’s essay “Enojada,” which details her experiences with sexual molestation suffered at the hands of her mother's boyfriend. In “On Transfeminine Anger,” Samantha Riedel describes the rage she felt as a gender-confused boy and then in the early years of her trans womanhood, when she railed against “the forces of misogyny and transphobia” only to end up hurting people she cared about. Destructive as anger can be, Reema Zaman shows how it can also liberate. Zaman depicts the moment she stood up to her bullying husband and told him, “I was born for life beyond you.” In “The Color of Being Muslim,” Shaheen Pasha talks about her rage at “the suffocating expectations of others,” both within and without the Pakistani American community, who saw her as being too Muslim or not Muslim enough. Powerful and provocative, this collection is an instructive read for anyone seeking to understand the many faces—and pains—of womanhood in 21st-century America.

An incisive collection of writing about how women’s anger “doesn’t have to be useful to deserve a voice.”

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-58005-893-3
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Seal Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2019