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Fat Girl Dancing

Fat Girl Dancing

Kris Kneen

  • awardShortlisted, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, Fiction, 2024
  • Fat child, self-denying adolescent, hungry young woman. A body now burgeoning uncontrolled into middle age. Kris Kneen has borne the usual indignities: the clothes that won’t fasten, the mirror that affronts, the stranger whose gaze judges and dismisses.

    This is the story of how Kris learned to look unblinkingly at their recalcitrant body, and ultimately found the courage to carry it to freedom.

    Fat Girl Dancing is a frank, beautiful and triumphant ode to self-respect from one of Australia’s most original and acclaimed writers.

    View the high-resolution images from Fat Girl Dancing here


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    Kris Kneen
    About the Author

    Kris Kneen is the award-winning author of memoir—Affection and The Three Burials of Lotty Kneen—and fiction: An Uncertain Grace, Steeplechase, Triptych, The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine, Wintering, as well as the Thomas Shapcott Award-winning poetry collection Eating My Grandmother. They have written and directed...

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    Text publication date:
    2 May 2023
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    Praise for Kris Kneen
    andFat Girl Dancing

    ‘Muscular, dexterous, and superbly inventive, Fat Girl Dancing is an extraordinary investigation - and expression - of the self.’

    ‘Insightful and poetic, Fat Girl Dancing is a triumph. I am better for having read it, perhaps even a little more human. This book may be Kneen’s specific story, but it is for every mind and every body.’

    ‘A prism of a book, relighting the world around us, page by page.’

    ‘With characteristic Kneen heart and originality we are invited into a lifetime hunger for disappearance, a pursuit of love, and moments of perfection. Iconically queer and questioning, with a bobbing cork of generosity. A pleasure to hold.’

    ‘A story of love that questions perceptions and presumptions with gentle heart, unflinching introspection and lyrical ferocity. Exquisitely shaped and personally provocative.’

    ‘A raw yet lyrical memoir that digs into the hidden parts of ourselves with a tender and unflinching gaze. On each page, Kneen breathes poetry into the pain of having the “wrong" body.’

    ‘Visceral and transportive, Fat Girl Dancing is a triumph of story telling, at once sharp and compassionate, critical yet subjective. In this wildly creative memoir, the body is explored in all its richness, controversy and taboo. This is Kneen at their finest.’

    ‘Equally sumptuous as it is heartbreaking, Fat Girl Dancing evokes the sweaty, dreamy, beautiful nightmare of living in a body that the culture at large rejects. Kneen puts it all out there: flesh, insecurity and art, and in doing so creating a work of corporeal neutrality and–most importantly–uncompromising sexiness’

    ‘Brave, visceral and original. An unsettling look at bodies in all their frailty…’

    ‘This reckoning of the body is an incredible act of generosity and nerve that will entirely reframe how you understand flesh and fat. A remarkable work by a writer at the height of their powers’.

    ‘We all have monsters that lurk in the dark - cruel little voices that shame us from the shadows. What might happen if we dared to set them loose? If we dared to set ourselves loose? Fat Girl Dancing is the answer. Kris Kneen has written the book of their body, and - like their body - it refuses to be pinned. This book is wounded, exultant and magnificently alive.’

    ‘This is an enthralling and bold self-portrait. Kneen faces the mirror and the body and the world with an unflinching, generous gaze. Her courage and clarity are, of course, absolutely vital to the book’s power, but what makes this memoir really soar is the beauty and precision of her writing. Passionate, honest—a superb book from one of our best writers.’

    ‘[Fat Girl Dancing is] more than a memoir – it is a self-portrait, expressing both the self over time in their words, and their body as a still in photos and paintings. This is a deliciously queer book in Kneen’s astute consideration of othered bodies and what it means to fall outside white, heterosexual standards of beauty.’

    ‘This is a memoir of the body – Kneen’s own body, but also all bodies that have been othered by thin, cis, white ideals…[Kneen rejects] the simplicity of body positivity and opt[s] instead to explore feelings of confidence and desirability alongside shame and their occasional yearnings to be thin…Fat Girl Dancing experiments with form, using life writing as a broad frame to capture surreal imaginings, thought experiments, dreams and theory…Fat Girl Dancing is a fresh, vital call to arms for all those who have had a gutful of being told their body isn’t good enough, when, as Kneen makes so evident here, it absolutely, spectacularly, is.’

    ‘A masterpiece of introspective corporeality…Kneen’s sensual prose unpacks problems with seeing fatness as being situated within bodies as opposed to contexts…Fat Girl Dancing is an achingly honest memoir about writing the body, with poignant poetic emphasis on artistic expression, performing femininity and rebelliously refusing to languish…Kneen’s journey will resonate deeply with those whose worlds don’t always fit, people who sparkle blue with joy, and those who know how it feels to experience a non-Euclidean selfhood.’

    ‘Kris Kneen’s Fat Girl Dancing is a series of attempts by the author to really see themself…Their dedication to throwing themself into a pursuit is commendable, and the crushing disappointment of that pursuit not being a good fit feels familiar…Fat Girl Dancing [helps] build the Australian voice in this essential conversation about which bodies deserve respect and when – that is, all of them, and always.’

    ‘A potent mix of emotional vulnerability and intellectual acuity…Poignant, enraging, heartbreaking…In this triumphant act they not only reveal their body, they also reveal their heart. And, amid the sequins and feathers, what a sparkling thing it is.’

    ‘Candid, unflinching, and exquisitely written.’

    ‘The book, like Anthony Mullins’ exquisite photographs of Kneen’s naked curves…resists being seen one way. It invites interpretation. And it asks the reader to conceive a whole from its series of beautifully composed parts, bringing their own experiences and projections to bear on it.’

    ‘Kneen has written a memoir full of flesh, full of desire, full of longing, full of both feeling less and wanting more. It is also beautifully written, inclusive, heartbreaking, explicit and raw. You don’t have to be fat or thin to dive in with Kneen, you just need to be human.’

    ‘A powerful and deeply vulnerable memoir…This book is also an attempt to see their body anew, and an act of self-inscription: of claiming their story and their corporeality in culture.’

    ‘Kneen’s delivery is exquisite and emotionally balanced.’

    ‘Kneen had started writing a book exploring the idea of fatness, but not looking directly at her own body. Instead, she read books and scientific papers and did interviews, eventually realising she needed to take an unflinching look at herself. This she does…[Kneen] takes a clear-eyed view of her fatness.’

    Fat Girl Dancing is a remarkable addition to Kris’s body of literary work.’

    ‘The perfect memoir—moving, wry, spellbinding.’

    ‘Moving and compelling.’

    ‘A beautiful and heartbreaking memoir…It’s confronting and devastating but also joyful, and hopeful and inspiring.’

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