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DEAR DICKHEAD by Virginie Despentes; Translated from the French by Frank Wynne
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Literary Fiction/ World Literature / Feminist

Available for download on Edelweiss.

Set in the backdrop of Paris and at the height of the #metoo movement, DEAR DICKHEAD follows Oscar, a B-list author and former alcoholic turned social media ranter, and Rebecca, an actress struggling with age discrimination with whom Oscar engages in a contentious online exchange after insulting her appearance. They draw us into a web of complex interactions, in an honest yet heated conversation about modern-day addiction, misogyny, and sex. At the same time Oscar is accused of sexual harassment by his former publicist, Zoé, who has become a feminist writer with a large online following. 

The explosive core of the novel lies with these three characters, representing different genders, age groups and views on feminism and sexism. Despite their differences, they engage in a dialogue, exchanging lengthy emails and posts as they grapple with their own perspectives and consider each other’s views. 

I picked this book up ready for a ride, but not knowing quite what to expect. As a reader, DEAR DICKHEAD kept me engaged and stayed with me long after I finished it. I found myself immersed in a narrative that felt both confronting and liberating – it is a book that will not tell you how to think, but make you. The novel’s greatest strengths lie in Despentes’ portrayal of complex and multifaceted characters with sharp wit and unapologetic prose. As I followed the combative correspondence between Oscar and Rebecca, I couldn’t help but reflect on contemporary culture from power dynamics to gender politics and even the influence of a social space.

Despentes’s unflinchingly honest story pulls no punches. DEAR DICKHEAD is a provocative and essential read for anyone seeking to understand and challenge the status quo. If you are a fan of witty and pointed stories such as LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY or cutting-edge literary voices like Jean Beagin, be sure to seek this novel out.


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