Inspirational female authors – International Women’s Day 2019

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today, 8 March, is a date to celebrate the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of women. It all began over a century ago and today it is observed all over the world. It is also a day to reflect on improving gender equality and for 2019 the theme is #BalanceforBetter.

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At Brompton library, we have been celebrating the literary achievement of women with a series of book reviews. Since International Women’s Day in 2018, I have been doing regular reviews of books by inspirational female authors. In total I have read eleven books by eleven amazing female writers. It is hard to pick a favourite because the books are all so different and written in different styles.

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I loved some of the books because of their subject matter or the worlds they created. There are the feminist dystopias of The Power, The Water Cure and Red Clocks which comment on gender equality in our own society. There is Helen Dunmore’s novel that explores how a female writer from the eighteenth century could be completely forgotten by history. Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood’s novels reimagine classic myths and fairy tales from a feminist perspective.

I found some of the books inspirational because of their authors. Such as Zadie Smith, who was published at a young age and has gone on to win many literary awards or Toni Morrison, who was the first African-American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Then there is Malala Yousafzai, who almost lost her life standing up for women’s rights.

Because the books are from different eras, it made me reflect on the journey of women’s rights. Roxane Gay’s essays are a funny and insightful look into the struggles of being a modern feminist, whereas Emily Bronte, who had to publish Wuthering Heights under a male pseudonym, is a reminder of how far we’ve come.

I hope you have been as inspired as me by these great reads! And I’m sure you can think of many more inspirational female authors to add to this list.

 

 

Inspirational female authors: Zadie Smith

As we get ready to celebrate International Women’s Day next month, we are continuing with our inspirational female authors blog series. For February, I will be reviewing White Teeth by Zadie Smith 

White Teeth was Zadie Smith’s first novel, which was published when she was just twenty-four years old. It went on to have huge critical success and it won several awards, including the 2000 Whitbread Book Award, the Guardian First Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize. It has also more recently been adapted for the stage.

It is difficult to give a quick, neat synopsis of what White Teeth is about because it weaves between many characters, timelines and settings. It is a tale of immigration and belonging and at its heart are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. The book follows their stories and the stories of their families.

It is not a quick read and it has been criticised as needing editing as there is backstory upon backstory. Not only do you know the life of the main characters’ parents, but their parents and even their parents too. But I loved it, you really sink into the lives of the characters. I loved how you slowly learn how the threads of their lives intertwine and then collide towards the end, over the most bizarre spectacle.

It deals with some difficult, serious topics but it is also very funny. I don’t laugh easily at books, but I found myself chuckling at some of the lines and scenes in this.  Zadie Smith brings her own fresh perspective to the tale of an immigrant in Britain and although she has been compared to many other writers, I think she has a strong, unique voice.

Next month we will recap all the books we have reviewed this year, to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March.

Philippa, Brompton Library