This Month I Am Reading Only Books Written by Women, Such as Virginia Woolf
I read a lot of books, but I feel I have not given women authors their due. So far, I have read Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and am within a few pages of finishing Joyce Carol Oates’s The Man Without a Shadow. Ng is new to me, but I have always loved Oates, though I haven’t nearly enough of her prolific works.
Among the books I will be selecting from for the rest of March (in no particular order):
Something by Svetlana Alexievich, most likely Secondhand Time [Russia]
Rosario Santos’s The Fat Man from La Paz: Contemporary Fiction from Bolivia*
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s The Time: Night* [Russia]
Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead* [USA]
Simone de Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity [France]
Patricia Highsmith’s The Black House [USA]
Dorothy B. Hughes’s In a Lonely Place [USA]
Selma Lagerlof’s The Saga of Gosta Berling* [Norway]
Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse [England]
Clarice Lispector’s Hour of the Star [Brazil]
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow* [Mexico/Canada]
Marie NDiaye’s Three Strong Women [France]
Dawn Powell’s The Locusts Have No King* [USA]
Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive* [Mexico/USA]
Invariably, I will not read some of the above and likely add some other writers, such as Charlotte Brontë, Willa Cather, Madeleine Albright, or Helen Hunt Jackson. It all depends on how I like the books I have selected.
Books marked with an asterisk [*] are by authors I have not yet read.
Marie NDiaye, Franco-Senegalese Writer and Playwright
In this year of the quarantine, I have found particular solace in reading writers that most people have never heard of before—and some that were new to me as well. The list is alphabetical by author, followed by the name of the book(s) I read in 2020:
Algren, Nelson (1909-1981). The Man with the Golden Arm. This novelist had a years-long relationship with Simone de Beauvoir, who is also on this list.
Bakewell, Sarah. At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails. A wonderful nonfiction book primarily about the French and German Existentialist philosophers from Husserl to Sartre.
Beauvoir, Simone de (1908-1986). The Mandarins. A powerful novel about the French postwar existentialists.
Collins, Wilkie (1824-1889). No Name and A Rogue’s Life. Not as well known as Dickens, but I think a better writer. His best novel is The Woman in White.
Dourado, Autran (1926-2012). Pattern for a Tapestry. This Brazilian writer from Minas Gerais is a real find.
Hrabal, Bohumil (1914-1997). I Served the King of England. I wonder why this great Czech novelist never won the Nobel Prize. Consistently great.
Marra, Anthony. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. The youngest writer (only 36) on the list, but shows promise of great things to come.
Modiano, Patrick. Dora Bruder. Winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is one of my favorite living novelists.
NDiaye, Marie. The Cheffe and My Heart Hemmed In. Winner of the Prix Goncourt in France. Clearly deserves the Nobel as well.
Neruda, Jan (1834-1891). Prague Tales. The Czech writer whose last name Pablo Neruda hijacked for himself.
Portis, Charles (1933-2020). Gringos. I really admire this Arkansas novelist’s work. Best known for True Grit, which is also worth reading.
Stasiuk, Andrzej. Fado. Hurry up and translate more of this great Polish writer’s work!
Westover, Tara. Educated. A nonfiction autobiographical book about growing up in an Idaho survivalist household.
Wright, Austin Tappan (1883-1931). Islandia. A novel in a genre by itself: A realistic fantasy novel set in a nonexistent Southern Hemisphere country.
As you can see, this list skips around the world and across two centuries.