Reading the Girls

In response to writer Maureen Johnson’s convincing polemic against the way that publishers and critics present female writers I asked, “Can you add to the list of female writers I ought to be reading?”

Johnson listed several that offer new discoveries. Readers, over the last six months, have also added to the original list, presented below in alphabetical order. Where I’ve read and posted about particular authors I have added a link to my post.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ama Ata Aidoo
Anna Akhmatova
Margaret Atwood

The Penelopiad (2005)
Ingeborg Bachmann
Anna Banti
Muriel Barbery
A. L. Barker

A Source of Embarrassment (1974)
Nicola Barker
Djuna Barnes
Simone de Beauvoir

Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter (1958)
The Prime of Life (1960) [and]
Diary of a Philosophy Student, Vol.1, 1926-27
Rosalind Belben
Aimee Bender
Aphra Benn
Stella Benson
Baroness Blixen (Isak Dinesin)
Elizabeth Bowen
Jane Bowles
Octavia Butler
A. S. Byatt
Anne Carson

An Oresteia (2009)
The Glass Essay (1995)
Angela Carter
Willa Cather
Kate Chopin

The Awakening (1899)
Sandra Cisneros
Colette
Barbara Comyns
Maryse Conde
Susan Daitch
Edwidge Danticat
Lydia Davis
Grazia Deledda
Helen DeWitt
Annie Dillard

Living by Fiction (1982)
Assia Djebar
Hilda Doolittle
Rikki Ducornet
Patricia Duncker
Dorothy Dunnett
Marguerite Duras

Moderato Cantabile (1958)
The Lover (1984)
 Jennifer Egan
Jenny Erpenbeck

Visitation (2010)
Louise Erdrich
Edna Ferber
Elena Ferrante
Penelope Fitzgerald

Blue Flower (1995)
Karen Joy Fowler
Janet Frame
Miles Franklin
Carmen Martin Gaite
Mavis Gallant
Janice Galloway
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Natalia Ginzburg
Nadine Gordimer

The Pickup (2001)
Shirley Ann Grau
Faize Guene
Shirley Hazzard
Bessie Head
Lillian Hellman
Amy Hempel
Georgette Heyer
Patricia Highsmith
A. M. Homes
Zora Neale Hurston
Elspeth Huxley
Shirley Jackson
Tove Jansson
Elfriede Jelinek
Sarah Orne Jewett
Elisabeth Jolley
Diana Wynne Jones
Anna Kavan
A.L. Kennedy
Barbara Kingsolver
Nicole Krauss
Agota Kristof
Yanick Lahens
Margaret Laurence
Ursula LeGuin
Kelly Link
Elinor Lipman
Clarice Lispector
Mary McCarthy
Carson McCullers
Francoise Mallet-Joris
Katherine Mansfield
Carole Maso
Beryl Markham
Leslie Marmon-Silko
Valerie Martin
Ana Maria Matute
Karin Michaelis
Lorrie Ann Moore
Olive Moore
Terezia Mora
Elsa Morante
Toni Morrison
Herta Muller
Alice Munro
Amelie Nothomb
Flannery O’Connor
Joyce Carol Oates
Sofi Oksanen
Helen Oyeyemi
Cynthia Ozick
Grace Paley
Suzan-Lori Parks
Lyudmila Petrushevskaya
Katherine Anne Porter
Dawn Powell
Francine Prose
Barbara Pym
Catherine Rey
Jean Rhys
Laura Riding
Marilynne Robinson
Mercè Rodoreda
Joanna Russ
Nawal El Saadawi
Evelyn Scott
Gail Scott
Joanna Scott
June Akers Seese
Anne Rivers Siddons
Elizabeth Smart
Zadie Smith

Changing My Mind (2009)
Muriel Spark
Christina Stead
Gertrude Stein
James Tiptree Jr (Alice Sheldon)
Sylvia Townsend-Warner
Ludmila Ulitskaya
Sigrid Undset
Luisa Valenzuela
Paula Vogel
Sheila Watson
Eudora Welty
Rebecca West

The Essential Rebecca West
Edith Wharton
Phillis Wheatley
Jeanette Winterson
Monique Wittig
Christa Wolf
Virginia Woolf

The Common Reader [and] (1925)
The Waves (1931)
Orlando [and here](1928)
To the Lighthouse [and] (1927)
A Writer’s Diary
Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
Marguerite Young
Marguerite Yourcenar
Pamela Zoline

9 thoughts on “Reading the Girls

  1. Jeanette Winterson (Sexing the Cherry strongly reminds me of Angela Carter’s work)
    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Purple Hibiscus. I bought it because I liked the first page and it was recommended by J.M. Coetzee on the cover.
    Patricia Duncker (Hallucinating Foucault)

  2. Here are three more, all extraordinary in their different ways.

    Anna Kavan, “Ice” is the best heroin-inspired novel I know.
    Jane Bowles, “Two Serious Ladies” and the stories in “Everything is Nice” have a spuerb wierdness.
    Francois Mallet-Joris, her debut novel “Rempart des Beguines” tr. as “The Illusionist”, at age 21, is one of those chilling, perfect, cruel, precocious novels the French (or Belgians in this case) so excel at, as in “Diable au Corps” and “Bonjour Tristesse”.

  3. Did you really leave off Iris Murdoch? If so, that’s quite shocking. Just as amazing, where is Doris Lessing, Nobel prize winner? Or even Ivy Compton-Burnett. I’ll leave off now.

    • All good suggestions, Tony, and mentioned neither by Maureen Johnson, me, or any of those that suggested names in response to this post three years ago.

      Cannot recall how I omitted Doris Lessing, whose writing I enjoy very much, though I wouldn’t say the same about Murdoch’s fiction.

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