helen zahavi dirty weekendPhoto © Bernd Schuler

'A dark and brilliant book'

The Daily Telegraph


'More offensive than pornography'

The Observer


 

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Answering the Critics

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 "This is the story of Bella, who woke up one morning and realised she'd had enough . . ." 

First published by Macmillan in 1991, Dirty Weekend is about a young woman in a basement flat who conquers her fear and transforms herself from victim to avenger. Over the course of a very dirty weekend she goes out in the night and kills seven men and one myth.

The men make the mistake of attacking her. The myth is that only women bleed.

The book provoked a media storm even before it appeared in the shops.  Several weeks before publication The Sunday Times ran a half-page story on the morality of the book and the sanity of its author.  As Naomi Wolf later wrote: 'You know you have stumbled against a taboo when a newspaper, as happened with Zahavi, publishes a poll of psychiatrists debating if you are mentally ill.'

This was just the beginning of a media response that was intense, relentless and sometimes hysterical. Reaction was extreme and polarised, and the book was revered and reviled in equal measure. While some hailed it as a liberating fantasy, others condemned it as immoral and pornographic.

Despite the attacks, however, and although denounced by large sections of the press, Dirty Weekend found its audience. Over the next few years it was published in over a dozen languages, went on to become an international bestseller and was made into a feature film.

This first novel by an unknown writer had been subjected to a critical mugging on publication, but the book survived, the message got out and the story was read . . .