While women have struggled to gain recognition in the discipline of philosophy, there is no shortage of brilliant female thinkers. What can these women teach us about ethics, politics, and the nature of existence, and how might we relate these big ideas back to the smaller everyday concerns of domestic life, work, play, love, and relationships?
Australian novelist Julienne van Loon goes on a worldwide quest to answer these questions, by engaging with eight world-renowned thinkers who have deep insights on humanity and society: media scholar Laura Kipnis, novelist Siri Hustvedt, political philosopher Nancy Holmstrom, psychoanalytic theorist Julia Kristeva, domestic violence reformer Rosie Batty, peace activist Helen Caldicott, historian Marina Warner, and feminist philosopher Rosi Braidotti. As she speaks to these women, she reflects on her own experiences. Combining the intimacy of a memoir with the intellectual stimulation of a theoretical text, The Thinking Woman draws novel connections between the philosophical, personal, and political. Giving readers a new appreciation for both the ethical complexities and wonder of everyday life, this book is inspiration to all thinking people.
"The Thinking Woman, the first work of non-fiction by acclaimed novelist Julienne van Loon (whose career began with a Vogel win for her first novel, Road Story, in 2004) is a knotty, charismatic exploration of the intersection between ideas and lived experience, through six central themes...a surprising and resonant work that cements van Loon's status as a thinking woman well worth reading and following."
— Jo Case
"There is so much life in these conversations. Words and ideas feel hot, propulsive, uncontained in their implications. Above all else, this feeling of thinking—of thinking out loud, of thinking together, of thinking with and alongside—it’s a very special kind of high."
— Maria Tumarkin
"It’s heartening to read a book that encourages us to challenge our assumptions. To think expansively, and to look at those who do, and how that may be relevant to our everyday. An invitation to a thoughtful life. Julienne van Loon’s The Thinking Woman
is that kind of book."
— Melissa Cronenburg
"A compelling portrait of the relationship between thinking and feeling."
— Amanda Lohrey
"A fascinating book that will have us all thinking, whether or not we are women."
— Anne Summers
"The Thinking Woman
is also much more than a thematically organised collection of essays that bring the dense theories of living feminist and female philosophers to a general readership. In many ways the book is also a revelation, as it marks van Loon as an extraordinary memoirist, able to draw convincing parallels between her own life and the academic arguments of her philosopher subjects without descending into cant or mawkishness. Van Loon manages to move confidently and convincingly between discussing her early love of trees and her first job working at a Dagwood Dog truck, to Julia Kristeva’s theory of subjective horror and Rosi Braidotti’s concept of bios/zoe."
— Johanna Leggatt
"Towards the end of van Loon’s journey through her interviews with these impressive women, she asks: where are you at? It is a question she says we should all be asking each other, not so much for our physical whereabouts — though that can be crucial when a friend is in trouble — but to enquire about our own journey of becoming in the precarious world we inhabit... The Thinking Woman
does a lot to help us think about how we can, how we could, even how we should, deal with our own feelings, and find the fluidity of imagination to live thoughtfully and fully.. I await volume two."
— Drusjilla Modjeska
"Show[s] us why and how philosophy matters in achingly personal, human terms...The quiet delight of this book is not just in watching its women think but understanding how and why they slice the world the way they do; locating their ideas in a biographical context, as the unique product of a life. A woman's life."
— Beejay Silcox
"Here is an absolutely original work that may upend the certainties governing your days and nights. Reader beware."
— Christopher Merrill