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Alarm Girl

She-Clown and other stories

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Top 50   —BBC National Short Story Awards for ‘The Mermaid and the Tick’2021

Shortlisted   —Edge Hill Prize2021

Shortlisted   —Manchester Fiction Prize2017

'From the ordinary to the magical, Vincent’s entertaining stories are fresh, thoughtful and surprising.'—Antonia Charlesworth, Big Issue North

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Compassionate, unexpected, and full of small triumphs in the face of adversity, these fierce, funny feminist stories are told with a female gaze.

Hannah Vincent’s characters are everyday heroines atwork and  play: young and old, fulfilled and frustrated, professional and amateur, educated and uneducated, knowing and unknowing. Their lives are transformed as they try to be themselves. Captured in familiar situations as well as in flights of fancy, these are women engaged in acts of self-preservation: they are exhilarated to discover the joy and surprise of other women’s company, they make bold sexual choices, they go on a night-time excursions; as grandmothers, they give their grandchildren unsuitable presents.

In one story, a young woman and her mother harness their creativity to express their horror at the world around them. In another, a teenage mother struggles with her feelings for the father of her child. One story follows a woman who experiences the freedom of the workplace while another shows how imprisoning it can be. One discovers how far her career has pushed her out to the margins of family life while another contemplates retirement. In the title story a woman catches a whiff of what respect and reciprocal attraction feels like.

Rubencubiella, Bookstagrammer

3 February 2021

Hoy os traigo mi reseña de «“She-Clown” and Other Stories», una colección de relatos cortos escrita por Hannah Vincent. Al libro lo describen como una colección de «relato corto feminista». En esta colección de relatos veo muchas mujeres con sus distintas rebeliones. Rebeliones contra lo cotidiano, contra las convenciones, contra los límites del matrimonio, contra la maternidad, contra sí mismas, contra los suyos, contra los convencionalismos de la sexualidad... Es una colección que habla de pequeños triunfos, de lo cotidiano, con un lenguaje bastante sarcástico por momentos. Eso sí, aunque sea una narración relativamente cotidiana e intimista, hay sitio para elementos propios de la fantasía y de los cuentos de hadas.

Destacaría los relatos «She-Clown», «The Poisonous Frog» y «3 o' clock». En la primera historia, una mujer se viste de payaso y trabaja en fiestas con niños y mantiene relaciones con algún padre. En la segunda, tenemos a una mujer cuya madre empieza a tener dificultades para comer y resulta que tiene una rana en la garganta. Una rana que luego pasa a ser su mascota. Y en la tercera, Vincent nos presenta una narración en primera persona de una mujer mayor que sufre demencia. Es quizá el relato más experimental, el que más juega con el lenguaje para marcar esos vacíos en la memoria.

Me llamó la atención ver "ze" y "hir" como pronombres y posesivos alternativos en uno de los relatos.

La colección me ha gustado, aunque como suele ocurrir con las colecciones de relatos, siempre habrá unos que te gusten más y otros que menos. De todos modos, lo recomiendo por las distintas innovaciones formales que podemos ver y por los temas que trata.

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The Feminist Bookshop

26 August 2020



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The Biblio Sara, Bookstagrammer 4.5/5 star review

9 May 2020

'...someone thinks highly of you, considers you worth inviting, wants to celebrate you.'

Sixteen short stories chronicling the power of women and how they can metamorphose ordinary lives to extraordinary. I finished reading She-Clown and Other Stories last night and it is a solid piece of fiction! Hannah Vincent has written an ethereal and extremely insightful collection. Her writing is so fluid and eloquent. The first few pages are all it takes to engage the reader - you start seeing the world through the eyes of the characters and become fully immersed in this gripping narrative. 💫

In 'Portait of An Artist' we see how girls are expected to conform to the societal standards even when it comes to their art. 'Carnival' was a riveting account of the discrimination faced by women in their workplaces and the way it has been normalised. The titular story 'She-Clown' explored donning a costume to experience life in a different light. Stories like 'Benediction' and 'An Extra Teat' were heartfelt as they shed light on the difficulties faced by women: the ramifications of aging and having a balance between work-life and children. 'The Poison Frog' was bizarre and astounding because the mother had a frog in her throat and while she recovered, the daughter's life transformed. Vincent incorporated different styles of language in this book like the wordplay in 'G-lorious'. In addition to that, '3 o' clock' was an incredibly touching portrayal of a woman with dementia. The ending story, 'Woman of the Year' which happens to be my favourite brought together all the main female characters along with the reader and celebrated being a woman. It made my heart full knowing I experienced their day-to-day lives with Vincent and seeing them talking to each other. I wanted to hug all of them. 💛

Taken as a whole, She-Clown and Other Stories is so fresh and greatly resonates with me. Beautifully structured, ingenious storytelling, immensely powerful and a sating read. It is the perfect book to pick up during quarantine with its fierceness and lighthearted vibe.

This gets my most enthusiastic recommendation. 4.5/5.

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Femi Books, Bookstagrammer

9 May 2020

I enjoyed these short stories so much.
‘She-Clown and Other Stories’ is a fierce feminist short story collection about women’s everyday life. It’s about real feelings, struggles, mistakes, bold choices and so much more.
Every story is just a few pages long, but Hannah Vincent manages to get your attention right at the beginning and in every story she lures you into a whole new world, full of surprises and complex characters.
'She-Clown and Other Stories’ is one of the best short story collections I’ve read. Even after finishing it last week, I’m still thinking about it daily. Hannah Vincent shows that it is possible to get within a few pages the same satisfactory feeling as if you read a whole book.
And I must say, look at this beautiful cover. The colours and the painting are just perfect.
PS. You can read one of the short stories on the website of Myriad Editions! It’s one of my faves.

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Yang Ming, Ink Pantry

5 May 2020

Women are often seen as resilient creatures in the face of adversity. But beneath this façade lies something deeper: vulnerability and the desire to be a better version of themselves. That is what British writer Hannah Vincent hopes to convey in her debut short story collection, She-Clown and other stories. Packed with sixteen fierce and funny feminist stories, this extraordinary collection is a delightful read.

The stories are told from the women’s perspective. They are brutally honest, raw, witty, and at the same time, moving. There is Charlie in the title story, She-Clown, which was shortlisted for the Manchester Writing Competition 2017, and Words & Women Competition 2017. Charlie is She-Clown, a magician who performs magic tricks at children’s parties. When the girls’ mother introduces her to the party guests Charlie realises she knew some of them. They are men who previously treated her with no respect by engaging in sexual acts with her. The ordinariness of the magic tricks she performed emphasises the absurdities of life, as if women are meant to clown around for them. But Charlie is enlightened when the girls’ father, Tony, who first mistook her as ‘She-Clam’, explains that ‘There’s no difference between male and female clams, did you know? No difference in colour, or markings, no mating behaviour. So only the clam knows who’s who and what’s what.’ This metaphorical commentary brilliantly encapsulates what gender equality means.

While Charlie gets a glimpse of reciprocal attraction, others are seeking to find freedom. There is Charlotte in ‘The Poison Frog’, a simple story about an unlikely friendship between a frog and a girl, with a hint of surrealism. First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2016, it tells the story of Charlotte who lives with her mother, even though she’s thirty years old. They are a close pair often seen together for grocery shopping and dental appointments. During their visit to a specialist, Charlotte’s mother discovers there’s a poison frog living in her throat! Over time, Charlotte is strangely drawn to it. After a successful operation, she takes the frog home. She takes care of it like a human companion. She dresses the frog up with a bonnet from one of her mother’s dolls. She even takes it for a walk where her neighbours chirp, ‘Morning, Froggy!’

The unexpected appearance of the poison frog marks as a turning point in Charlotte’s life and she begins to understand what makes her so happy. Fundamentally, the story asks the question of how much does one willing to fight for what they want, achieve it without destroying a relationship?

The collection ends perfectly with the story, ‘Woman of the Year’. It’s achingly funny yet empowering. Written from a second person perspective, the reader gets invited to a formal luncheon in ‘so-called intelligent buildings where no one can hear you when you are inside.’ Everyone is seated at a table according to the first letter of their names. The reader is reminded again the reason behind the invitation that ‘someone thinks highly of you, considers you worth inviting, wants to celebrate you.’ But who invited them?

As everyone tries to figure out who invited them, the conversations at the table begin to flow freely around the reader. You listen to their life stories and their achievements as if you are right there with them. The luncheon drags on until an impending storm throws everyone into disarray.

Writing about women takes a lot of courage and sensitivity. In this case, Vincent delves deeper into the feminine psyche, and incorporates them into her characters. With a greater understanding of their emotions and behaviour, these characters become sublime and multi-faceted. She’s a talented writer whose strength lies in turning ordinary stories into something extraordinary. Ultimately, She-Clown and Other Stories is a page-turner, and with every page, it will invigorate your soul. Now, that certainly establishes her as one of the freshest voices in contemporary fiction.

She Clown and other stories is available from Myriad

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Feminist Bookshop Brighton

18 April 2020

If you’re looking for some fabulous new stories, we can highly recommend @hannahvincent22 collection of short stories released by @myriad_editions just this week.

“These fierce and funny feminist stories shine with everyday heroines at work and at play”.

❤️Exactly what we need right now! ❤️ Pick up your copy at the bookshop or directly from Myriad.

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Yasminerosereads, Bookstagrammer

14 April 2020

I read Hannah Vincent’s SHE CLOWN in a single day. These short stories, which follow the lives of women as they ‘perform’ their femininity, go from the ordinary to the surreal. Genres can change from one story to the next, but I think I preferred the more mundane, down-to-earth stories that really captured the different dynamics between men and women, women and other women, mothers and daughters.

I particularly liked the opening story, ‘Portrait of the Artist’, and the title story, ‘She-Clown’. I thought they captured perfectly this double-bind young girls and women often find themselves in as regards their gender. Another story that really lingered with me long after I read it was ‘The Poison Frog’. Although quite surreal - the main character’s mother grows a frog in her throat - it captured a dissatisfaction with life and how it’s meant to turn out for a woman in their thirties.

Other stories didn’t leave quite as strong an impression on me, but I enjoyed how the characters were all brought together in the final story, which crescendoed in unexpected ways.

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A Life in Books

31 March 2020

It was that eye-catching jacket that attracted me to Hannah Vincent’s She-Clown and Other Stories although I’d spotted Amanda at Bookish Chat was interested and she has a sharp eye for short stories. Vincent already has a couple of novellas under her belt but this is her first collection of stories which are all about women, many of them in tricky circumstances of one sort or another.

The sixteen pieces that make up She-Clown and Other Stories stretch over a mere 160 pages, some briefer than others beginning with Portrait of the Artist in which the parents of a bright young girl are called into her school to discuss her disturbing writing. Several explore the gender power imbalance – Carnival sees one woman accept the her boss’ initiation rite while her friend does not, having chosen to impersonate him at the office fundraiser. Others portray coercive relationships in a more tangential way: in Connie and Me a friendship between a Chinese student and an ageing ex-model living with a gambler ends poignantly. Two more of the sixteen stood out for me: Camel Toe in which two ageing sisters come alive at a netball match, one shedding her relentless caring role, and the eponymous She-Clown who performs to a sceptical audience then has her own cynicism overturned when a children’s birthday party gig doesn’t end quite as she expected. Perhaps the most satisfying, though is the final story, Woman of the Year, in which the preceding pieces’ main protagonists are all brought together at an awards ceremony.

Vincent explores her feminist theme with wit and humour, occasionally bringing her readers up short with a touch of the surreal. It takes quite a degree of discipline to tell a story in ten pages or fewer, as so many of the pieces in this collection are, but Vincent carries it off beautifully. Her sharp attention to detail, smartly demonstrated in Woman of the Year, and clean, spare writing coupled with the delivery of more than a few surprises, small twists and subversive details, make this a pleasing collection. Just two stories didn’t work for me, a pretty impressive hit rate for a collection of sixteen.

If you’re keen to get your hands on a copy of She-Clown and Other Stories, you can order one direct from Myriad Editions. They’re a small publisher who will be struggling in these difficult times. This is their 100th publication and I’m hoping they’ll be around to publish 100 more.

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Liz Robinson, Love Reading

18 March 2020

Quirky, provocative, and fabulous, these short stories highlight everyday normality and yet firmly shake the roots of your thoughts.  Hannah Vincent is a novelist and playwright, I first came across her writing in 2014 when I read Alarm Girl, which I can still clearly remember (bearing in mind just how many books I read, it shows you how powerful her writing is). Although these short stories might leave you with more questions than answers they are actually perfectly formed. Sweary, occasionally shouty, definitely challenging, the mundane is examined, and experienced in a completely different way. She-Clown and Other Stories is a really interesting and decidedly different collection of 16 stories that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

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The Feminist Nook, Bookstagrammer 4/5 star review

The Heartsick Diaspora by Elaine Chiew - ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Heartsick Diaspora published by @myriad_editions. It's is a collection of short stories that focuses on exploring the Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese diaspora in cities around the world. The book covers themes of culture, identity, social divisions, family, loss and more.
Each individual story had strong themes and a good storyline which made for a strong overall collection. The stories were also set across a range of time periods from WWII to more present day which I really liked. I think sometimes short story collections can be dominated by one or two more interesting stories, however, for the most part I found all of these stories to be moving and well-written.
Personal favourites were The Coffin Maker and Rap of the Tiger Mother. In The Coffin Maker one man searches for his sister who has been taken as a comfort woman during WWII. In this story, he talks about the loss of his sister, but also about finding love. This is a clever story that looks at history, colonial relationships, love and family in more subtle ways. In the Tiger Mother, this is all about one single mum's experience of raising her son and the battle between mothers to ensure their child is seen as the best in the school. This one had more humour to it as it explored ideas of motherhood, and attitudes to education and schooling.
Overall I really enjoyed these short stories as they felt lyrical, emotive and I felt deeply absorbed in each setting despite how short they were.

Thanks to @reads.and.reveries review for encouraging me to pick this up sooner.

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