by Olivia Sudjic
An essay on the anxiety epidemic, autofiction and internet feminism.
After the release of Sympathy, her debut novel which explores surveillance and identity in the internet age, Olivia Sudjic found herself under the microscope. Trapped in an anxious spiral of self-doubt, she became alienated from herself and her work. Blaming her own mental-health masked a wider problem that still persists: the tendency for writing by women, whether fiction or personal testimony, to be invalidated on the grounds of sex.
Drawing on Sudjic’s experience of anxiety – as well as the work of Elena Ferrante, Maggie Nelson, Jenny Offill, Rachel Cusk and others – Exposure examines the damaging assumptions that attend female artists, indeed any woman who risks exposure, as well as the strategies by which one might escape them.
Praise for Exposure
‘Unflinchingly honest and insightful about the challenges of anxiety – particularly about being a woman writer in a world determined to get below their skin. It’s brilliant and every sentence is razor-sharp.’ – Sophie Mackintosh, Man Booker-longlisted author of The Water Cure
‘Beautifully articulated, incisive, necessary and downright brilliant.’ – Sharlene Teo, author of PONTI
‘A powerful defence of fundamental, increasingly eroded rights: our right to be only partially known or wholly unseen; our right to draw on the energy of our fears to make art. In this post-truth moment, our fraught and all-too-frequently gendered (mis)understanding of fiction’s purpose is rapidly approaching crisis point. Sudjic’s Exposure feels like it arrives just in time.’ – Sam Byers, author of Perfidious Albion