The OF Blog: Results of putting forth more efforts to read women writers

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Results of putting forth more efforts to read women writers

I just reached the milestone of 150 books read over the past 113 days.  That has been a typical pace for the past five years, so that's not what's noteworthy.  What is noteworthy was what authors/books I've discovered since I decided that I wanted to try to read more female authors after only 28% of my first 100 books read were by women.  For the past 50, that total increased to 44% (22).  And here's a listing of those twenty-two women writers, with notes by some of them:

1.  Elfriede Jelinek, The Piano Teacher (Nobel literature laureate; very good novel)

2.  Melanie Rae Thon, The Voice of the River (loved one of her short stories enough to flag it for BAF 4 consideration; enjoyed this novel)

3.  Maureen F. McHugh, After the Apocalypse (very good story collection)

4.  Wisława Szymborska, Here (Nobel literature laureate; excellent poetry collection)

5.  Maya Jasanoff, Liberty's Exiles (won 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award in History; outstanding history of the Loyalists)

6.  Giannina Braschi, El imperio de los sueños (one of the more avant-garde Latin American poets/writers of the past 30 years; Spanish; very good trio of novellas)

7.  Leah Bobet, Above (selected one of her short stories for BAF 4 consideration; good but uneven debut YA novel)

8.  Mercé Rodoreda, Aloma (Catalan; I wrote a commentary on her fiction that will appear in the near future on Weird Fiction Review; moving story)

9.  Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius:  Agatha Awakens (graphic novel; it was well-done in places, but a bit spotty for my taste)

10. Kim Lakin-Smith, Cyber Circus (BSFA Award finalist; decent novel, but the weakest on the shortlist that I had read)

11.  Sherri S. Tepper, The Waters Rising (Clarke Award finalist; weakest novel of that shortlist)

12.  Elizabeth Hand, Available Dark (excellent sequel to her Generation Loss, which was nominated for some awards, if I'm not mistaken)

13.  Amal Al-Jubori, Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation (finalist for the 2012 Best Translated Fiction Award; poetry; outstanding; to be reviewed later on Gogol's Overcoat)

14.  Nawal El Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero (gripping fictionalized account of a real prison confession told to one of Egypt's most prominent dissident writers)

15.  Jan Morris, Hav (a modern-day classic that tweaks the approach of a travelogue to create something profound)

16.  Anne Enright, The Forgotten Waltz (2012 Orange Prize finalist; very good novel that may be reviewed later on Gogol's Overcoat)

17.  Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles (2012 Orange Prize finalist; perhaps my favorite on the shortlist)

18.  N.K. Jemisin, The Kingdom of Gods (2011/2 Nebula Award finalist; very good in places, but the narrative was a bit too uneven for it to be the strongest contender on this year's Nebula shortlist)

19.  Herta Müller, The Passport (Nobel literature laureate; very good short novel)

20.  Jac Jemc, My Lovely Wife (forthcoming debut novel is very, very well-written; review next month on Gogol's Overcoat)

21.  Cynthia Ozick, Foreign Bodies (2012 Orange Prize finalist; good, but weaker than the other two finalists read this month)

22.  Judith Hermann, Alice (2012 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize finalist; very good collection of related short fictions that revolve around how a single character, Alice, deals with loss and grief).

Best part is knowing that this is the tip of the iceberg and that most of these are the equals to the best fiction read so far this year by male writers.  Are there any recent (2011-2012) releases by female writers that you think might be of interest to me, based on the list above?


Unknown said...

Would love to see you review After the Apocalypse. I did some time back and loved it (interviewed McHugh too). One of the best collections of 2011 for sure (in SF/F, of course).

Lsrry said...

I have such a backlog now that it'll be ages before I could even think of doing so. Last count, I had around a dozen reviews that I would like to have written by the 30th. It may be a long time before I could get to it, if at all.

Kathleen said...

Have you read Julie Otsuka or Helen Oyeyemi? or Nicole Krauss?

Lsrry said...

Yes to all three. Reviewed Krauss' Great House here back in 2010. I reviewed Otsuka here in November 2011 and Oyeyemi's latest I reviewed for Bull Spec, in their just-released issue.

Loved all three.

Kathleen said...

cool! I guess I did have a good handle on what would be the type of thing to recommend. :) I will go find those reviews.

Lsrry said...

Yes you did, as those are ones that I'd suggest to others as well :D

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