Publication date: September 2020
A quiet retelling of a life in the background, Athena Dixon's debut essay collection,
The Incredible Shrinking Woman, is a gentle unpacking of the roles she learned to inhabit, growing up as a Black woman in a small Midwestern town, to avoid disruption. But after the implosion of the life she'd always wanted, Dixon must explore the implications of her desire to hide as she rebuilds herself in a world that expects freedom to look boisterous. As Dixon presses the bruises of her invisibility, these essays glide between the pages of fan fiction, the rush of new panties, down the rabbit hole of depression, and reemerge on the other side, speaking with the lived authority of a voice that, even when shaking, is always crystal clear.
Praise for The Incredible Shrinking Woman:
"With profound vulnerability, insightfulness, and lyricism, Athena Dixon has produced—essay by essay, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence—a beautiful book about the body and desire, depression and survival, loneliness and love. We are so lucky that The Incredible Shrinking Woman exists."
—Jeannie Vanasco, author of Things We Didn’t Talk About When I Was a Girl
"Elegant in its prose, the strength of The Incredible Shrinking Woman lies in its unflinching depiction of what it means to be Black, fat, and female in America. We follow Athena Dixon from small town to big city in a collection that expands the personal into the universal. Dixon’s haunting words will echo long after you close the final page, demanding to be fully seen, understood, and cherished."
—Lara Lillibridge, author of Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home
"The Incredible Shrinking Woman is an origin story for Black girls from small towns who dreamed of being cool when reality didn’t feel like enough. Coming of age in the security of anonymity found behind a computer screen, Athena explores the desire to be seen, and understood exposing her beating heart in passages flecked with poetry and steeped in a raw quiet intimacy."
—Cija Jefferson, author of Sonic Memories and Other Essays
"These profound and insightful essays dive deep into the fundamental questions we all struggle with: what kind of person am I supposed to be, and how do I become that person? Whether she is discussing her search for love in the early days of AOL chat rooms, or the challenge of overcoming a divorce and restarting her life, Athena Dixon fearlessly explores the struggle to balance her professional and personal ambitions with her desire to disappear, especially within the context of a culture that is hostile to Black women. This is a smart, funny, and vulnerable book from a writer everyone will be talking about soon.
—Tom McAllister, author of How to Be Safe
"The Incredible Shrinking Woman shows us the power and range of the memoir-essay form. This intimate portrait of relationships, choices, and reckonings is at once insightful, witty, beautiful, and moving."
—Beth Nguyen, author of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
Interviews/Reviews for The Incredible Shrinking Woman:
—Athena Dixon, Mom Egg Review
—Laura Cathcart Robbins, Hippocampus Magazine