The Incredible Shrinking Woman
by Athena Dixon
publication date: September 15, 2020
—Named "2020 Impressive Indie Press Book" by Independent Book Review
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."
—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.”
—Lara Lillibridge, author of Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home
"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? This is a smart, funny, and vulnerable book from a writer everyone will be talking about soon."
—Tom McAlister, author of How to Be Safe
"This intimate portrait of relationships, choices, and reckonings is at once insightful, witty, beautiful, and moving."
—Beth Nguyen, author of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
"For Black women like me, Dixon’s essays resonate down to our souls. She speaks to our yearning, a need to connect and be loved, our striving for fulfillment, and a general weariness we cannot seem to shake."
—DW McKinney, Barrelhouse
Athena Dixon is the author of No God in This Room (Argus House Press, 2018) and The Incredible Shrinking Woman (Split/Lip Press, 2020) and a forthcoming essay collection. Her work also appears in The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic (Haymarket Books, 2018) and Getting to the Truth: The Craft and Practice of Creative Nonfiction (Hippocampus Books, 2021). Additionally, her poetry and essays have appeared in GAY Magazine, Grub Street, Narratively, Shenandoah, and So to Speak Journal among others. She is a recipient of a fellowship from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and a 2nd Book residency from Tin House. She resides in Philadelphia.