24 January 2011

Lara's List of Lady Writers

I'm jumping into the list craze here and starting a list of 100 great books by Ladies.  I know, it's possible that I'm only contributing to the ghettoization of Lady Writers, and so I'm interested to know what you all think of the categorization of literature by gender and race.  Segregation or separation?  Necessary or not? 

Since so much was made in 2010 and early 2011 about the paucity of women writers who a) win major prizes, b) get reviewed in major places by major reviewers and get praised and Great Writers and c) get big stories in highbrow magazines, so I thought I'd at least take a stab and encouraging more thought and action in this area.  I do think that lists have their place in consciousness raising and in helping us to examine our assumptions and actions.  I know I get thoughtless and lazy pretty quickly after I resolve to change and be more aware, and I use lists to help me set intentions and to focus my attention on Important Things.  And while many bloggers are discussing this same issue currently, I'd love to hear what the readers and writers I commune with think, and what books they recommend as well.

(Also, in my New Year's spirit of reformation and retrenchment, I'm trying to broaden my reading to include some novels that aren't detective novels, reading I use to soothe myself and relax at the end of the day, lazy reading I've been trapped in since I haven't been writing papers or studying for exams.  I only read Literature lately when I'm teaching it.  Detective novels have their beautiful place in my life.  But I'm trying to Reform a bit, and Improve.  So help.  Please.)

This is an off-the-top-of-my-head stab at ten books that I think are important to read, written by Ladies.  A lot of the texts, but not all, chosen this week explore mother/daughter themes, domesticity, and reproduction, and these themes seem especially prone to being labelled and dismissed as "women's writing".  This list is also comprised of many texts that were on the bandwagon of works that treated these subjects seriously, literarily, and as such, are pretty well known.  

Each week I'd like to look at some different themes/areas of Women's Lit (again, your suggestions are greatly appreciated!) and add ten more titles to the list, using your suggestions.  I think I will do a separate poetry list, unless you have a better idea.

1)  Beloved by Toni Morrison
2)  The Book of Margery Kempe  by Margery Kempe
3)  Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
4)  To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
5)  The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
6)  The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
7)  The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook by Gertrude Stein
8)  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
9)  Wide Saragasso Sea by Jean Rhys
10) Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen


Marni C. said...

Love them all. I would have to add Cat's Eye (Atwood) and the collected short stories of Flannery O'Conner.

Jill said...

Um . .. Um .. you are ridiculously smart. Were those English words you were using, because I found myself re-reading the sentences to make sure I understood them correctly.

Maybe I should try reading some of them thar books y'all talkin' bout.

Hy-5 said...

I was surprised to see Frankenstein on the list. I loved that book and it re-ignited my interest in the classics. I always enjoyed Willa Cather. And there never was a better short story than The Revolt of Mother by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. That woman was fierce.

lara said...

Yes, Marni, Flannery O'Connor. It's hard to know which Atwood to list. I'm reading Oryx and Crake right now w/ students. Jill, perhaps my sentences were hard to read because they were poorly constructed--sorry--also, curious, who are your fav. women writers, Jill?
Hy, you've mentioned that story before--gotta read it. Haven't read Willa Cather in ages--any Cather in particular? Need to re-read her.

jenny colville said...

Hey Lara,

I love:
Housekeeping -- Marilyn Robinson
Black Tickets -- Jayne ann philips
Middle March
The Shawl -- Cynthia Ozick
Villete -- Charlote Bronte
I think Lydia Davis is becoming an important writer too, Oh, and Alice Munro's "Runaways."

These have all been important for me personally, and I think they'll stand the test of time.

Thanks for the list! It's fun to think about these things!


lara said...

Thanks, Jenny! I'm going to include some of these on the next installation!