Zoe Pilger's Pick of Exhilarating Women

These are some of the books by female authors that inspired my novel Eat My Heart Out. From the brilliant absurdism of Jane Bowles to the hallucinatory menace of Anna Kavan to the lyrical anger of Angela Carter, each exhilarated me on first reading, and on many rereadings since. If male authors suffer from ‘the anxiety of influence’, as Harold Bloom suggested, I suffer from its opposite. I am grateful to these women. Due to their originality and their sex, many remain under-celebrated. We need them – why? Because, as Kathy Acker wrote in her dazzling 1978 novel Blood and Guts in High School, ‘without language, the only people the rebels can kill are themselves’.

The Driver’s Seat

Muriel Spark, introduction by John Lanchester

From the publisher:

Lise has been driven to distraction by working in the same accountants’ office for sixteen years. So she leaves everything behind her, transforms herself into a laughing, ...

Two Serious Ladies

Jane Bowles

From the publisher:

A tale of two extraordinary heroines – Christina Goering, a wealthy spinster in pursuit of sainthood, and Frieda Copperfield, who finds a home from home in a Panama brothel.

Sleep Has His House

Anna Kavan

From the publisher:

A largely autobiographical account of an unhappy childhood, Sleep Has his House startled with its strangeness in 1948. Today it is one of Anna Kavan’s most acclaimed books. ...

The Butcher

Alina Reyes, translated by David Watson

From the publisher:

This novel is a frank and vivid account of sexual awakening. A young woman spending her summer holiday in a seaside town is drawn towards an inevitable sexual encounter with ...