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!
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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!
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!
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”.
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 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”.