Sara Pascoe – Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body (4 stars)

Comedy Award nominee's memoir is part-feminist treatise, part anthropology

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Sara Pascoe – Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body

Rare is the acclaimed stand-up that doesn't get a book deal these days. But with typical ambition, unflinching intimacy and comic verve, Sara Pascoe has striven to make her debut an all-purpose memoir, wide-ranging anthropological summary and feminist treatise on the ways society inhibits and impacts women's lives.

Expanding on the themes of sexuality and body confidence of her stage shows, Animal is by turns off-handedly funny, insightful and soberingly frank, with Pascoe exploring topics like self-harm, abortion and sexual consent from the origins of personal experience. Thoroughly researched and persuasively argued, with the benefit of distance, she understandably finds it easier to make humans' ingenious sexual evolution more amusing than such ongoing horrors as genital mutilation.

There's a timeliness and urgency underlying the later chapters, not least as Pascoe passionately believes in openness and discourse for empowering and educating all genders, even if some of her flow is disrupted in her efforts to be comprehensive.

Out May 5, published by Faber & Faber.

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