I wrote yesterday about the coincidence in my reading of Ben Lerner’s über-useless-man novel Leaving the Atocha Station and Elaine Showalter’s A Jury of Her Peers and its upshot that I’m going to spend a few months reading women writers, instead of my usual men-heavy regime, just to see if I can separate out my own prejudices and inclinations from the institutionalised sexism of publishing at large.
I asked for recommendations and suggestions, and Henry Krempels asked me to post what people came up with, so here they are, in alphabetical order.
Where specific titles were suggested, I’ve listed them.
Where the writer was un- or little-known to me, and I Googled them, I’ve added any links I found useful or interesting, for the benefit of the similarly ignorant.
49 names were suggested on the first day of asking, and more have been coming in. I’m listing all suggestions, which obviously risks making the list diffuse and unwieldy. Later posts will try to make some sense of it all.
Nicola Barker – Darkmans (I have this, I’ve tried it, I haven’t really liked the earlier stuff of hers that I’ve read.)
Joan Barfoot – Gaining Ground – author website: www3.sympatico.ca/jbarfoot/
Djuna Barnes – Nightwood (Likewise, have it. Tried it. Not sure it’s my thing.)
Rosalind Belben – piece by flowerville
Sybille Bedford – ‘fansite’: sybillebedford.com)
Elizabeth Bowen – short stories, The Last September, The Death of the Heart, To the North. (I think I must have read a story or two, but this is a clear omission)
Jane Bowles – I’ve read, and enjoyed.
Christine Brook-Rose – a recent TLS blog
Anita Brookner – Hotel du Lac
Marie Calloway – Calloway’s tumblr. (I recently read her controversial story ‘Adrien Brody’ on the recommendation of Sam Riviere. Worth another look I think, perhaps along with the Sheila Heti, if what I’m after in part in all of this is an answer to the question: is female consciousness different to male?)
Anne Carson – New York Times profile
Barbara Comyns – Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead – Asylum review
Lydia Davis – Love, love, love
Helen DeWitt: Lightning Rods. Multiple recommendations. I had a copy, but gave it away as a present. They loved it.
Joan Didion – Play it as it Lays (I’ve read the journalism, but never the fiction. May well turn up.)
HD – Nights
Marguerite Duras – The Sailor from Gibraltar (well, I’ve read some (The Lover) but years ago. Will browse.)
Jennifer Egan – A Visit from the Good Squad (Read and reviewed. See note below.)
George Eliot – Middlemarch (It’s on the shelf. Lord knows, it’s on the shelf.)
Elena Ferrante – career-long review in The New Yorker: have already ordered Days of Abandonment.
Mary Gaitskill – ‘fansite’: marygaitskill.com)
AM Homes – Music for Torching, May We Be Forgiven (I’ve read a few stories, and started at least a couple of the novels. Did I finish The End of Alice? Not sure. Wasn’t blown away, in any case, although I know her reputation.)
Rachel Ingalls – Black Diamond, Mrs Caliban (Invisible Ink piece for Independent on Sunday)
Eowyn Ivey – Snow Child
Shirley Jackson – We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Have read The Lottery. Haven’t I?)
Tove Jansson – The Summer Book. As mentioned in the post, I was given Art in Nature for the same birthday as A Jury of Her Peers. Started reading. (See comment below)
Elfriede Jelinek – a page of links to essays etc
Anna Kavan – ‘fansite’: redmood.com/kavan. (Another absolutely fascinating-looking and, I think, entirely new-to-me writer.)
Doris Lessing – The Golden Notebook (started it once, I’m sure) Also The Fifth Child and Canopus in Argos
Deborah Levy (I’m a long-time fan, Beautiful Mutants is a favourite book, and I’ve written on it here.)
Clarice Lispector – Hour of the Star (a very high probability, this)
Penelope Lively – Moon Tiger
Carson McCullers (I have had The Heart is a Lonely Hunter on the shelf for years. May well come down.)
Hilary Mantel – Beyond Black (Read and enjoyed, for the first half – thought it repeated itself rather. But very impressive.)
Claire Messud – The Emperor’s Children
Herta Müller (I already have The Appointment lined up)
Murasaki Shikibu – The Tale of Genji
Maggie Nelson (short interview at Fullstop.net)
Katherine Mansfield (Well, I’ve read a fair bit. Brilliant, of course.)
Toni Morrison – Jazz
Alice Munro – (Read a few stories. Not enough)
Anaïs Nin (Again, read a bit, but years ago, when, you know…)
Joyce Carol Oates – Black Water, Rape a Love Story (I’ve read one or two, but they haven’t encouraged me to read more.)
Flannery O’Connor – The Violent Bear it Away (Never read beyond the most famous stories. Not sure how I’d deal with a novel. Therefore…)
Yoko Ogawa – The Diving Pool and The Housekeeper & The Professor (I’ve read Hotel Iris, oh my.)
Sharon Olds – Poetry Foundation biography)
Iris Owens – After Claude – Bookforum piece (Sounds brilliant.)
Helen Oyeyemi – Mr Fox
ZZ Packer (Have read a little)
Grace Paley (Have read a little, I think… *said faintingly*)
Edith Pearlman (I have Binocular Vision by my bed. Discussed briefly in yesterday’s post)
Ann Quin – Berg (Lee Rourke’s piece in The Guardian)
Dorothy Richardson – Pilgrimage (dorothyrichardson.org)
Marilyn Robinson – Housekeeping (I’ve got Gilead lined up, unless it would be wrong to read them that way around.)
Ali Smith – Like
Rebecca Solnit – The Faraway Nearby
Muriel Spark – The Driver’s Seat (I love, and have read a fair amount of Spark.)
Christina Stead – The Man Who Loved Children
Elizabeth Taylor – Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont
Sigrid Undset – Kristen Lavransdatter
Luisa Valunzuela (Paris Review interview)
Eudora Welty – stories.
Edith Wharton – The House of Mirth (On the shelf, lined up.)
Sarah Winman – When God was a Rabbit
Virginia Woolf – The Waves (read, many years ago)
Thank you to everyone who has sent suggestions: NatashaLehrer; badaude; seventydys; seanjcostello; STomaselli; IanCurtin1; byers90; MagsIrwin; no1_emily; henrykrempels; yolacrary; Twitchelmore; luizasauma; bensixesq; IsabelAshdown
I’m not going to set myself targets or live-tweet the whole thing or anything silly. I’m just going to read as normal, picking up what’s to hand, answering the call of the books on my shelves, in bookshops and charity shops and on Twitter, flicking open, browsing and reading on when my attention is caught – but it’s going to be women only for the months of May, June and July.
And I’ll add to the list if more suggestions come in.