Last month I was lucky enough to attend the sold-out book launch for 404 Ink’s viral feminist anthology Nasty Women in Waterstones on Princes Street. The upper floor of the branch was full of eager listeners, and there was a positive, powerful atmosphere about the evening. There were also cupcakes, which is always a bonus!

The launch event featured a panel of speakers, who were all contributors to the essay collection, followed by a book signing. I’ll get onto the panel highlights in a moment, but first, some background information:

Indie publishers 404 Ink utilised crowdfunding to produce Nasty Women, running a highly-successful Kickstarter campaign that was prolific on social media. The anthology features a varied collection of essays, all written by women, and concerning women’s diverse experiences in the world today.

The panel was made up of Sim Bajwa, who wrote the essay Go Home, Christina Neuwirth, whose essay was entitled Hard Dumplings for Visitors, Alice Tarbuck, who penned Foraging and Feminism, and Chitra Ramaswamy, whose essay Afterbirth recalled her recent reflection on pregnancy, Expecting. The panel was chaired by Laura Lam, who also had an essay featured in Nasty Women.


Each woman read from their essay, touching on its key points and answering questions from Lam. Bajwa’s essay reflects on, and responds to, anti-immigrant sentiments, some of which she has personally experienced. It’s a personal, striking and moving piece of work. On a different note, Neuwirth beautifully explores family connections and traditions. Tarbuck’s essay concerns modern fascinations with foraging, relating foraging practices to womanhood and witchcraft in a really smart way. Finally, Ramaswamy’s Afterbirth tackles motherhood, but more so, acts of writing and publishing. Ramaswamy pointed out how publishers were reluctant to take on her book because they thought the subject matter – birth – was too niche (or perhaps too female-orientated?) or specialist. However, Ramaswamy reminds us that birth is something that happens to all of us, much like death.

The content of each reading was so different, which is indicative of the collection as a whole. I think the panel reflected the multitude of voices and issues contained within the book itself. It was definitely a great introduction to Nasty Women. Afterwards, many stayed behind to get their book signed and discuss things further. It was wonderful and inspiring to attend a launch such as this one.

Photographs taken by Sineád Grainger. Nasty Women is available now.