In celebration of International Women’s Day, IEU staff discussed their favourite women authors.
• Jennifer Egan, Manhattan Beach. Set during the Great Depression in Brooklyn this novel follows Anna as she becomes the first female diver in a ship repair yard against a noir setting of organised crime, class clashes and a male dominated world.
• Ursule K Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. These two novels use the framework of science fiction to explore the power of gender (former) and capitalism/individualism/collectivism (latter). Le Guin writes with the fluidity of a poet and every page is something to savour.
• Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things. Fraternal twins experience the world in very different ways in a novel that explores the caste system, cultural tensions, discrimination and basic human emotions like love and betrayal.
• Kate Grenville, The Secret River. An Englishman is transport to Australia for theft, and colonises land already inhabited by Aboriginal people. This is a book exploring the interactions between Aborigines and settlers, and Grenville said “[this] is my way of saying: this is how I’m sorry”.
• Elizabeth Strout, My Name is Lucy Barton. Using an unreliable narrator, this novel recalls incidents that occurred over five nights in the 1980s and questions the validity of memory and affect a collective denial has on a single person’s memory.
• Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale. The powerful mini series based on this book has brought this dystopian novel back to the limelight. The only question now is whether the book is speculative fiction or a guide for misogynist tyranny?
• JK Rowling, the Harry Potter series. Fanciful, humourous and at times bitingly sad, these children’s books changed the world. Take time for another read to appreciate the analogy of fascism and racism that Rowling wove into her stories, and the focus on caring for each other. Hermione Granger is one of the most influential young women characters in recent YA fiction.
Who is your favourite female author? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org