Alia Trabucco Zerán

When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold

Winner of the 2022 British Academy Prize for Global Cultural Understanding.

Novelist Alia Trabucco Zerán has long been fascinated not only with the root causes of violence against women, but by those women who have violently rejected the domestic and passive roles they were meant by their culture to inhabit.

Choosing as her subject four iconic homicides perpetrated by Chilean women in the twentieth century, she spent years researching this brilliant work of narrative nonfiction detailing not only the troubling tales of the murders themselves, but the story of how society, the media and men in power reacted to these killings, painting their perpetrators as witches, hysterics, or femmes fatales . . . That is, either evil or out of control.

Corina Rojas, Rosa Faúndez, Carolina Geel and Teresa Alfaro all committed murder. Their crimes not only led to substantial court decisions, but gave rise to multiple novels, poems, short stories, paintings, plays, songs and films, produced and reproduced throughout the last century. In When Women Kill, we are provided with timelines of events leading up to and following their killings, their apprehension by the authorities, their trials and their representation in the media throughout and following the judicial process. Running in parallel with this often horrifying testimony are the diaries kept by Trabucco Zerán while she worked on her research, addressing the obstacles and dilemmas she encountered as she tackled this discomfiting yet necessary project.

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EBook: £6.99

About the Book

  • When Women Kill was the winner of the 2022 British Academy Prize for Global Cultural Understanding. Commenting on behalf of the jury, Chair Professor Patrick Wright, Emeritus Professor of Literature and History at King’s College and Fellow of the British Academy, said:

    ‘When Women Kill is a highly original and beautifully written work, which uncovers uncomfortable truths about a society and its attitudes to female homicides. This is a timely and important work that invites the reader to reconsider the relationship between gender and violence – not just in Chile but globally. Trabucco Zerán has applied her legal training to the creation of this outstanding book, reminding us that research takes many forms and is not only the preserve of the academic world.’

    The international book prize, worth £25,000, rewards and celebrates the best works of non-fiction that have contributed to public understanding of world cultures and their interaction. You can find out more information about the prize here.

  • If you subscribed to And Other Stories by 12th September 2021, you would have received your limited edition copy of When Women Kill: Four Crimes Retold – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – in February 2022, before its official publication, as well as up to five other specially selected And Other Stories titles per year. Find out more about our subscriptions.
Print status: Available
Translator: Sophie Hughes
Original language: Spanish
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 24 March 2022
ISBN: 9781913505264
Ebook ISBN: 9781913505271
Availability: UK & C (excl Canada) and Europe.


Kirkus Reviews, starred review

‘Throughout [When Women Kill], the language is both precise and evocative, and the author’s evaluation of the various circumstances is readable, trenchant, and intersectional. A formally inventive, lyrical, feminist analysis of Chile’s famous female murderers.’

Megan Bradbury
Times Literary Supplement

'Exquisitely translated by Sophie Hughes, When Women Kill conveys the wonder of a writer determined to uncover the truth about factual events by using story.'

Neil Mackay
Herald Scotland

'This book fascinates, illuminates and horrifies in equal measure ... It’s an elegant examination of how the act of murder uncovers truths society never wants to confront.'

Philippe Sands

‘Tales of love and hate, exposed with a forensic and lyrical power that is rare, brilliant and deeply affecting.’

Lina Meruane

‘This brilliant work of essayistic nonfiction reveals forcefully and convincingly the rhetorical operations used by the patriarchy.’

Fernanda Melchor

‘When Women Kill is a magnificent work of creative nonfiction: provocative, intelligent, and moving. In it, Alia Trabucco Zerán makes use of her talents as a writer and researcher to reconstruct the complex stories of four women accused of violent crimes in the twentieth century. The result is a masterful and pertinent account full of humanity and emotion.’

Marta Sanz
El País

‘When Women Kill is an entertaining, intelligent and well-written book that, in the process of deconstructing machismo, reflects on the power of story – be it through literature, court proceedings, news, articles, or photos – and its ability to intervene in our lives.’

Nona Fernández
La Tercera

‘Are we as women in any way implicated by these four murderers? . . . In its portrait of the media, in the echo from the streets, in the judicial process and sentence of each of the four female killers here, we recognise the judgment of society itself, from which we cannot escape.’  

Books by Alia Trabucco Zerán