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International Women’s Day: a literary celebration

Because we believe that there is no reason women should occupy fewer seats in the great dining room of literature, we have selected excerpts from interviews we lead this year and last year with talented writers whose books we loved. We hope you’ll find these excerpts interesting and eye-opening, and that you’ll be eager to read their works–beware, great reads ahead!

Samantha EllisHow To Be A Heroine

Samantha Ellis: “I think men should write heroines, just as women should write heroes, because if men don’t at least try to write heroines then they aren’t trying to understand women. And I think that radical act of empathy, of trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, is what writing (and reading) fiction is all about.”

Read our interview of Samantha Ellis about How To Be a Heroine

Kerry HudsonTony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma: A Novel

Kerry Hudson: “I am a working-class woman and I grew up in very working-class environments. Part of the reason I started writing the book, when I was by myself in Vietnam and I never even imagined it would be published in the UK, let alone France, was because I wanted to explore my own experiences growing up – the good and the bad – to explore my own interaction with society. So while I didn’t set out to write a ‘class’ or political novel I think it was inevitable that aspects of that would find their way to the page.”

Read our interview of Kerry Hudson about Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma

Maggie O'FarrellInstructions for a Heatwave

Maggie O’Farrell: “With Michael Francis and his wife, I was interested in writing about a sort of ripple effect of the feminist movement. Claire is not a hardcore feminist at all, or even on a political level, but I think that the movement was starting to be felt, especially in suburban houses. That’s what Claire is experiencing: she gets pregnant at university, she doesn’t finish her degree, she becomes a mother and a stay at home wife. In this way, some feminists were blazing a trail, enabling people like Claire to say: “actually, I do want to finish my degree, and I’m going to do it, and I’m going to study”.”

Read our interview of Maggie O’Farrell about Instructions for a Heatwave

Jennifer Clement Prayers for the Stolen

Jennifer Clement: I have spent over ten years listening to women affected by Mexico’s violence as I was interested in writing about women in Mexico’s drug culture. This was a logical step for me after having written the novel A True Story Based on Lies, which is about the mistreatment of servants in Mexico. I interviewed the girlfriends, wives and daughters of drug traffickers and quickly came to realize that Mexico is a warren of hidden women. They hide in places that look like supermarkets or grocery stores on the outside, but that are really hiding places with false façades; in the basements of convents, where women live with their children and have not seen daylight for years; and in privately-owned hotels that are rented by the government — a surreal, Third World concept of a Witness Protection Program.

Read our interview of Jennifer Clement about Prayers for the Stolen

Hillary JordanWhen She Woke: A Novel

Hillary Jordan: It’s not just Obama’s election that gives me hope. In the legislative races also, all the worst crazies—those opposed to contraception and abortion, those against exceptions even in the cases of rape, incest and grave risk to the mother’s life—went down. And it was often the votes of women who took them down. I don’t believe the kooks will vanish, but I think the American people sent them a clear message that their extremism is not shared by most of us and will be tolerated less and less.

Read our interview of Hillary Jordan about When She Woke

Gillian FlynnGone Girl: A Novel

Gillian Flynn: So basically: both men and women are buying into the idea that it’s good for women to like everything men like, but degrading for men to like everything women like. That’s incredibly unhealthy. There’s a bigger societal issue here, but perhaps the first step to correcting it is, yes: don’t fall into the cool girl trap.

Read our interview of Gillian Flynn about Gone Girl

Our selection of ebook releases

INTERVIEWS

Patrick DevillePlague and Cholera

If you are not familiar with Francophone literature, we highly recommend our dedicated section, with latest releases by Marie NDiaye, Antoine Rouaud…

SELECTIONS

Collected StoriesZeldaThe Motel Life: A Novel

TrustMother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.You Are One of Them

Tyringham Park: A NovelThe Rosie Project: A NovelBurial Rites: A Novel

RECOMMENDED NEW RELEASES

Still MidnightThe End of the Wasp Season: A NovelGods and Beasts: A NovelThe Red Road: A Novel

Not only can you browse our Mystery category or our British literature section, but you can also cross both searches if you’re looking for British Mysteries!

Dragnet Nation

Tomorrow, in a month, in ten years, what will become of our privacy? Discover more crucial issues awaiting us in our Future Studies category.

Our selection of ebook releases

INTERVIEWS

Jennifer ClementPrayers for the Stolen

 

Prayers for the Stolen tells the story of Ladydi, a fierce young lady in Guerrero, Mexico, where young girls must hide their beauty so as not to be kidnapped by drug cartels. Jennifer Clement’s previous novel The Poison That Fascinates is also available on Feedbooks.

SELECTIONS

We Need New Names: A NovelMira CorporaThe Night GuestI Want To Show You MoreThe Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories

Discover all the previous winners of the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction.

Ancillary JusticeA Tale for the Time BeingWhere the Moon Isn'tLife After Life: A Novel

Our literary awards section lists famous as well as less famous American, British and Irish literary awards, including important genre awards such as the Hugo Award or the Edgar Allan Poe Award.

RECOMMENDED NEW RELEASES

The Almost Nearly Perfect People

Because it’s not only about Nordic exceptionalism, you can browse the rest of our Sociology category.

Brotherhood of Fear

“Paris, 1933. A refugee with no papers, no legal status, and few resources, Willi Kraus lives in fear of deportation back to Nazi Germany…” Discover many more historical mysteries in our dedicated category!

Our selection of ebook releases

2014: THE YEAR OF READING WOMEN

We Need New NamesPrayers for the StolenA Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for LoversBurial RitesThe Night Guest

Here’s to hoping it will have a long-term impact on our reading habits! Discover a broader selection of titles here.

SELECTIONS

iThe Girl with a Clock for a HeartAnnihilationApple Tree YardThis Dark Road to MercyShovel Ready

Revolutionary RoadSwimming Home: A NovelThe Silent Wife: A NovelSuper Sad True Love Story: A NovelThe Night Guest

 

BOOKS IN THE NEWS

A New York Winter's Tale

A lot of novels are adapted for film: browse our dedicated category Media Tie-In for the latest releases.

Ancillary JusticeA Tale for the Time Being

Ruth Ozeki’s sweeping tale and Ann Leckie’s intense page-turner won the Kitschies award, rewarding the best works in speculative fiction. For more information about this prize and the former winners, you can refer to our dedicated page.

The Sixth Extinction

With The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert tackles a fascinating subject about the human impact on Earth and what we should expect for the years to come. Discover more titles in Social Science in our dedicated category Future Studies.

2014: The Year of Reading Women

As initiated by British writer Joanna Walsh and followed by the hashtag #readwomen2014, 2014 will hopefully be The Year of Reading Women, for a broader presence and recognition of women writers by publishers, newspapers, journalists, booksellers, and most of all, readers. If we look back on 2013, how many of the books we read were written by women? Hopefully, the next one you read will be.
If you don’t know what to choose from, we made it easier for you with a selection of 15 women writers we strongly recommend. Some of them will release their first book this year, and a few ones already have a solid bibliography to choose from. Either way, we hope this will encourage you to add a few names to your 2014 to-read list!


 
Half of a Yellow SunThe Thing Around Your NeckPurple Hibiscus: A NovelAmericanah

With four novels under her belt, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is not new to the literary scene, and yet she got – with good reason! – the attention of a brand new audience last year when her TED talk about feminism was sampled by no other than Beyoncé. Her novel Purple Hibiscus has been selected by many literary awards (such as the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize), but we also recommend her latest novel Americanah about a young Nigerian woman emigrating to the US.

We Need New Names

Last year, NoViolet Bulawayo was the first Zimbabwean author to be selected for the Man Booker Prize with her debut novel about Darling, a young woman on a journey from Zimbabwe to the US. Renowned New York Times literary critic Michiko Kakutani praised “a deeply felt and fiercely written debut novel”.

Prayers for the StolenThe Poison That Fascinates

Prayers For The Stolen is Jennifer Clement‘s latest novel, the story of Ladydi (yes!), a fierce young Mexican woman living in a world where every girl must disguise herself as a boy so as not to be kidnapped by cartels. A literary heroine you won’t forget anytime soon!

How To Be A Heroine

Speaking of literary heroines, Samantha Ellis has a few ones she’d like to talk to us about: Esther Greenwood, Anne Shirley, Lizzy Bennet… And many more! Her exploration of her past and present favourite heroines and their influence on her life is well thought out and highly inspirational. Samantha Ellis said in the interview we published on Feedbooks that she “found the answers to most of [her] life’s questions and crises in the pages of [her] favourite books”, and we couldn’t agree more.

For Today I Am a Boy

Kim Fu writes fiction and non-fiction and has notably written for NPR, The Rumpus and Maisonneuve Magazine. Her first novel For Today I Am a Boy tells the story of a second-generation Chinese family with three daughters and one son who has only one wish: to be a girl.

Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot

Masha Gessen is a Russian American journalist and has published several works of non-fiction who deal notably with Vladimir Putin but also the situation for lesbians and gay men in Russia. Her latest work about the fearless members of Pussy Riot and the history of the feminist punk group will hopefully become essential to the understanding of a country in crisis.

Village Of StoneUFO in Her EyesA Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers20 Fragments of a Ravenous YouthI Am China

Xiaolu Guo is a British Chinese novelist and filmmaker. In 2013, after having published four novels, she was selected in the fourth edition of the prestigious list “Granta Best of Young British Novelist”. Recently invited at the Jaipur literature festival, she denounced the lack of translated works in the Anglo-American publishing market, affirming the negative effect it has on our reading habits (only 2% of the works published in the US and the UK in 2007 were originally written in another language). Her forthcoming novel I Am China will be published in June by Random House.

Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma

Kerry Hudson‘s childhood and adolescence spent in council estate flats and bed & breakfasts were a strong inspiration for her first novel. In Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma, we follow Janie, a young woman who experiences poverty and dire living conditions with a strong will to survive and to overcome her situation. Funny and touching without being tearful–a real pleasure!

Tide RunningAll Decent Animals

After growing up in Guyana and living in Amsterdam, Trinidad & Tobago, and currently in Grenada, Oonya Kempadoo draws from her multicultural upbringing to write her novels, in a language Karen Russell described as “incantatory, dense, and lush”.

Burial Rites

Burial Rites is only Hannah Kent‘s first novel, but it has been highly praised and acclaimed by numerous newspapers and magazines, and has been selected for the 2014 Stella Prize rewarding Australian women writers. This tale of a woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829 is haunting and beautifully written.

Please Look After MotherI'll Be Right There

You may know Kyung-Sook Shin for her novel Please Look After Mother which won the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize and tells the story of family’s search after the mother goes missing. Good news: her next novel I’ll Be Right There will finally be released in June and we really look forward to it!

The Hour of the Star (Second Edition)Água VivaThe Passion According to G.H.Near to the Wild HeartA Breath of Life

Often compared to Franz Kafka or Rimbaud, cult Brasilian writer Clarice Lispector has recently been at the centre of the literary talk thanks to new editions of her major works by New Directions: we’ll be reading Clarice Lispector in 2014 and we hope you will as well!

The Night Guest

Fiona McFarlane‘s intriguing debut novel is the story of Ruth, a widow, Frida, a woman who comes to Ruth’s house affirming she is her carer, and a tiger. Sounds intriguing? Sounds promising! The Rumpus recommends “a confident and engaging debut that poignantly depicts the final act of a life, the memories and loves that can (and can’t) be regained, and the mysterious visitor that we all become, eventually, to ourselves”.

White is for WitchingMr FoxThe Opposite HouseThe Icarus GirlBoy, Snow, Bird

Helen Oyeyemi has a singular voice and was selected, rightly so, in the list of “Granta Best of Young British Novelists”. Her forthcoming novel Boy, Snow, Bird will be published in March 2014.

After the Fire, A Still Small VoiceAll the Birds, Singing

After winning the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 2009 for her debut novel After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, Evie Wyld delivered a second novel called All The Birds, Singing in 2013 (soon to be published in the US). Telling the story of a woman living alone on a farm and faced with the mysterious murder of her sheep, The Guardian called it “a compelling portrait of a young woman with a dark past”