It has been half a year since we launched our resolution to read more female authors this year – and for me, exclusively women authors coming from 25 different countries for my recreational reading. At the time that I am writing this post, I have already featured (or have already scheduled posts on) 128 female authors/illustrators coming from 30 countries, which means I already met my goal for the year! Hooray! See my progress here.
However, it is to be noted that 80 out of 128 authors are from the US (roughly 62%), showing an over-representation of titles coming from the United States of America. As I have explained in my first quarter check-in, the numbers only show the titles we have featured here. My Goodreads account has the complete list of all the books by female authors I have read this year. Thus far, here are some of my ruminations/ reflections on this illuminating #WomenReadWomen2019 reading challenge.
Issues Pertaining to Race/Ethnicity, Nationality, Setting Of The Novel
I know that in my first quarter reflections, I mentioned that I will be basing my categorization of country on the basis of where the authors are currently based. However, there were titles that proved to be quite a challenge for me to categorize, primarily Insurrecto by Gina Apostol. The author is Filipina American, and the setting of the novel is in the Philippines.
While Apostol is now based in the US, it seemed strange categorizing the novel under USA. What made the most sense to me at the time was to park the book under Philippines while also indicating that the author is based in the US.
This means that the following novels which I am planning to feature: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, Three Daughters Of Eve by Elif Shafak, and The Barefoot Woman by Scholastique Mukasonga will be classified under South Korea, Turkey, and Rwanda even while their authors are now based in New York, United Kingdom, and France respectively.
Books I Wish To Read From My Shelves: Balance Between Interest, Quarterly Reading Themes, and Diverse Representation
I know that I am confronted with a delicious dilemma: I am spoiled for choices when it comes to choosing the books to read and feature for our reading theme. The challenge is to balance what we need to read for our quarterly reading themes while at the same time being mindful of finding female authors coming from different countries.
For our current reading theme on sisterhood, for instance, while I would have loved to also read the following titles: The Girls by Emma Cline, Carol by Patricia Highsmith, Transit by Rachel Cusk, and Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh, I am mindful of the fact that authors based in the US now comprise over 60% of what I have featured here, so far – and quite a few now from the United Kingdom (where Rachel Cusk is based).
For our upcoming reading theme, I have a similar conundrum.
This would have been the perfect opportunity to read more classics for this theme as can be seen below:
My seventeen year old daughter and I have just finished reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
It would be great to also read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Orlando by Virginia Woolf. However, I am torn once again since all these classic authors are coming from England and the idea behind our #WomenReadWomen2019 is to provide greater representation and female voices coming from various parts of the world – and we only have a year to do that. If only I do nothing but read these gorgeous babies the whole day, but alas, such is not the way of the world.
Hence, I will have to be more strategic in my choice of reading in the coming months to also ensure that I get to read the following titles:
The Map Of Love by Ahdaf Soueif from Egypt, Disoriental by Negar Djavadi from Iran, The Best Place On Earth by Ayelet Tsabari from Israel. If anything, I feel so fortunate that I have these books on my shelves, just waiting for me to get to them.
Women’s Literary Prizes
The three books that I just shared above are award-winning novels. Here are a few more award-winning titles that I wish to get to:
Milkman by Anna Burns (Ireland), and Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (Poland). Admittedly, I am underwhelmed by the book cover of Flights and kind of wish I had a different version of the book. What can I say? I do judge a book by its cover.
I also came across this link that provides a comprehensive list of Women’s Literary Awards and Prizes from various countries, including the US, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, Mexico, Thailand. Admittedly, the ones that caught my eye are the Longlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2019, making me salivate for the following titles:
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, Bottled Goods by Sophie Van Llewyn, Praise Song For The Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden, Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss, Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton.
Another women’s prize that caught my eye was The Stella Prize from Australia. Here are a few titles that I wish I own and could feature for our reading theme:
Pink Mountain On Locust Island by Jamie Marina Lau, The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie, Axiomatic by Maria Tumarkin, Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko, Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee, The World Was Whole by Fiona Wright.
I have been hosting a read along for the past few months over at Litsy. A few do chime in with their thoughts, but I do wish that there could be more participants. For the rest of the year, here are the titles that I thought would be good for group discussions. Do join us if you are able to.
(1) 31 July: The Handmaid’s Tale (The Graphic Novel) by Margaret Atwood and adapted by Renée Hault (Canada)
(2) 31 August: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (Singapore)
(3) 30 September: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (South Korea)
Since bibliophiles plan their reading in advance, here is our suggested reading for the last quarter of the year:
(4) 31 October: The Barefoot Woman by Scholastique Mukasonga (Rwanda)
(5) 30 November: Thus Were Their Faces by Silvina Ocampo (Argentina)
(6) 30 September: A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos (France)
Do join us if you are able to! We’d love to hear your thoughts on these titles. If you have recommended titles for us to find, we’d be happy to know them.