The Females is a queasy read ... an extremely intricate soldering of one trope to another such that they form long chains which intertwine and must be unpicked from each other. Another way to put it might be that they form waves which in their interactions create complex patterns of interference ... the narrator’s language finds itself more than equal to the task of thinking through the destructive effects that the state has on the lives of its subjects ... In the end, the book feels like it turns on a riddle: how can the females have vanished if they were never visible in the first place? ... Hilbig is directing our attention to something really unthinkable, of which the separation into women and females is a particularly shocking local instance: that no moment of history can be weighed for its consequences by those living in its stead.
The Females is a slim book, just 130 pages, with no chapter divisions and text that is sprinkled with ellipses and hyphens that emphasize the free-association quality of Herr C.’s ruminations ... Hilbig’s prose has been described as 'earthy,' but this isn’t just a stylistic quality. His ability to use coarse physical description and imagery as a commentary on the individual’s relationship to the state is what I found most striking and artful ... Hilbig is not only transparent and sometimes grossly sharing-too-much in these passages; there are also moments of dark humor that made this reader chuckle ... The book kept my attention because of the philosophical insights and the quality of the questions that the narrator’s experience poses about state and gender, identity/physicality, historical memory and the individual.