What Doesn’t Kill Us: Book Talk

  • DATE

    14 March 2024

  • TIME

    6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

  • AGES

    All ages welcome




    The Portico Library
    57 Mosley St, Manchester, M2 3HY

Writer Ajay Close is in conversation about her new book set in late 70s Leeds: as a killer terrifies the city, women reclaim the streets. It’s Women’s History Month and this new book helps us reflect on the origins of the Reclaim the Streets Movement in Leeds.

It’s the eve of the 1980s. PC Liz Seeley joins the squad investigating the murders. With a violent boyfriend at home and male chauvinist pigs at work, she is drawn to a feminist collective led by the militant and uncompromising Rowena. There she meets Charmaine – young, Black, artistic, and fighting discrimination on two fronts.

As the list of victims grows and police fail to catch the killer, women across the north are too terrified to go out after dark. To the feminists, the Butcher is a symptom of wider misogyny. Their anger finds an outlet in violence and Liz is torn between loyalty to them and her duty as a police officer. Which way will she jump?

Ajay Close combines the tension of a police procedural with the power and passion of the women’s lib movement. By turns emotional, action-packed and darkly funny, What Doesn’t Kill Us reveals just how much the world has changed since the 1970s – and how much it hasn’t.

Ajay Close grew up in Yorkshire and, after her school years at a Sheffield comprehensive, studied at Cambridge. She worked at Granta before becoming a journalist and then a novelist. She is the author of six literary novels, of which her first, Official and Doubtful, was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her novels are pacy, often political, page-turning, dealing with family and relationships under pressure, and can be read as thrillers. Her new novel, What Doesn’t Kill Us, is published by Saraband.