Wanting: Women Writing About Desire

Publication Date:

February 2023



Original language and publisher

English | Catapult

Territories Handled

World excl. English North America

Wanting: Women Writing About Desire


“Eclectic . . .  Karen Russell, Larissa Pham, Lisa Taddeo, Amanda Petrusich, Camille Dungy, and other writers quarrel with this notion of desire as a suppressed emotion, which as a reading experience feels less concerned with stepping over the line than with assessing the reaction of the player on the other side. Yet the diversity of desires (and writing techniques) raises the cumulative effect of Wanting to the level of triumphant.”  —J. Howard Rosier, Vulture

“In Wanting, the essays don’t just address sexual desires, as some people might assume from the title. Instead, they discuss desires of all kinds: time and money, having children and families, being a caretaker, having the freedom to express oneself fully, shielding young people from the horrors of violence, buying a car, relishing the possibilities new love brings with it, and ushering in the start of a better world, among other different kinds of yearning . . . After each essay finishes, you’re left with an overwhelming feeling of familiarity and compassion for the writers whose works are included in Wanting. The best essays in the collection . . . illustrate the myriad ways our cravings and our willingness to articulate them often lead to new understandings about ourselves, about the people around us, about the influence we have on the world around us, about how the world influences us, and about the opportunities available to us when we choose to share them . . . Over and over again, the essays in Wanting prove Kahn and McMasters’s claim about the power of speaking our desires out loud is true, not just because it helps us fully realize them but because it gives other people power to do the same.” —Stef Rubino, Autostraddle

”If the desire for selfhood is the beating heart of this collection of personal essays, the anthology also pulses with the relationship between wanting and writing, demonstrating how desire propels the urge to create. . . . The thirty-three contributors to Wanting risk sharing their desires on the page in empowering personal essays that demonstrate astonishing courage, but also craft, making it an anthology that reveals the relationship between wanting and body, mind, and heart, yes, but also between wanting and voice.”  —Kaitlyn Teer, Ploughshares

“The essays in this voluptuous, multivarious volume comprise an essential compendium of female desire.” —Michelle Hart, Electric Literature

“Superb essayists congregate on the pages in this brilliant, vibrant collection of thoughts and confessions.”  —Zibby Owens, Good Morning America

“An intimate and empowering anthology of essays that explore the changing face of female desire in whip-smart, sensuous prose, with pieces by Tara Conklin, Camille Dungy, Melissa Febos, Lisa Taddeo, and others.” —Kailey Brennan Dellorusso, Write or Die Magazine

“The book is impossible to put down. With abundant candor and grace, every piece is a courageous gift.” Booklist

 “An impassioned anthology of women’s perspectives on desire . . . The wide-ranging essays reflect the diversity of their authors while sharing a captivating rawness and sincerity. The result is a striking and powerful compendium on the multifaceted nature of longing.”  Publishers Weekly

“In Wanting, writer-editors Margot Kahn and Kelly McMasters have collected 33 deeply intimate and thoughtful essays by women writers on the range of what constitutes desire . . . Wanting is at its best when it’s demonstrating the wide scope of what desire can mean, what forms it can take and what its object might be. Like the wide range of topics in this collection, the styles here are a potpourri of prose, wistful and tender one minute, razor-sharp and raw the next . . . Wanting is a wide-ranging collection about desire by women writers that is, like wanting itself, haunting, poignant, vicious, meditative and hopeful, all  at once.” —Alice Martin, Shelf Awareness

“A stunning collection that will change your life, Wanting is a deep excavation into desire’s endless forms and perspectives. No anthology has moved, thrilled, and expanded me as much as this one, delivering essay after essay that shifts desire’s ground from under its reader’s feet. True to its own subject, Wanting is sure to leave you hungry for more.”  —Meredith Talusan, author of Fairest

An intimate and empowering anthology of essays that explore the changing face of female desire in whip-smart, sensuous prose, with pieces by Tara Conklin, Camille Dungy, Melissa Febos, Lisa Taddeo, and others.

What is desire? And what are its rules? How do we navigate the journey from the things we were brought up thinking we should want to figuring out what we actually do? These candid and insightful essays tackle the complicated knot of women’s desire.

In the opening essay, Larissa Pham unearths the ache beneath all her wants: time. Rena Priest’s desire for a pair of five-hundred-dollar cowboy boots spurs a reckoning with her childhood on the rez and the fraught history of her hometown. Other pieces in the collection turn cultural tropes around dating, sex, and romance on their heads—Angela Cardinale tries dating as a divorced mother of two in California suburbs only to discover sweet solace in being alone; Keyanah B. Nurse finds power in polyamory; and when Joanna Rakoff spots a former lover at a bar, the heat between them unravels her family as she is pulled into his orbit—an undoing, she decides, that’s worth everything.

Award-winning and emerging female writers from a range of experiences and backgrounds dismantle every formal notion of what desire is or can be in this fierce and daring anthology.

Marketing Information

A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of the Year
A Zibby Mag Most Anticipated Book of 2023