Eight feminist reads from around the world

Sophie Ireland | Oct 26, 2018
Library at AWSAD safe house in Ethiopia

With the days getting colder and winter surely on its way, we thought it would be fitting to share with you some of our top book recommendations for those autumn evenings best spent on the couch with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Whether it be a tale of coming-of-age, an exploration of identity and self, or a comedic look at our feminist hypocrisies, these charismatic stories provide insight into experiences of femininity around the world – and should most definitely make it onto your reading list.

We Need New Names - NoViolet Bulawayo (2013)

‘We Need New Names’ is a coming-of-age novel recounting the journey of a young girl out of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and towards America’s promise of a reinvented-self. The New York Times describes the protagonist as ‘A Child of Two Lands’, as the novel explores those challenges faced by immigrants in the U.S. – identity, cultural adaptation, and the ever-looming threat of deportation. Bulawayo’s literary debut is topical given Mugabe’s recent removal from power, and has earned her the distinction of becoming the first woman African writer to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize; two great reasons to add this to your ‘to read’ list this season! 

Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur (2014)

‘Milk and Honey’ is a collection of poetry and prose by Indian-Canadian writer Rupi Kaur, which takes a modern look at femininity and how experiences of violence, love and loss affect how women relate to the world, and to men. Kaur’s minimalist style and delicate, accompanying illustrations reflect life’s bittersweet take on hurt, hope, and healing – a universal and captivating tri-set of themes which is sure to inspire you!

All of Us in Our Own Lives - Manjushree Thapa (2016)

Nepali novelist Manjushree Thapa probes themes of gender, displacement and humanitarianism, through her captivating account of an unlikely group of strangers from across the world and the surprising ways in which their lives and ambitions overlap. Intensely perceptive and honest, this fiction novel takes a feminist look at the world of international aid, and the interconnectedness of those within it. 

Nasty Women – A Collection of Essays and Accounts of what it’s like to be a Woman in the 21st Century (2017)

Titled by Trump’s viral labelling of Hilary Clinton as a ‘Nasty Woman’, this collection of essays provides insight into the experiences of individuals from all walks of life, as they discuss the ever-normalising set of misogynies that shape what it means to be a woman today. In a book Margaret Atwood has described as an essential window into many of the hazard-strewn worlds younger women are living in right now’, this collection delves into issues of reproductive rights, cruelty towards those with disabilities, and life as a queer black woman in America. Punk, pressure, politics and personal - this diverse and relatable collection is sure to ignite your feminist fury and inspire you to be the nastiest, most defiant version of yourself!

Kintu – Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (2014)

Makumbi’s multi-generational drama, in which the interwoven stories of five different members of the cursed Kintu Clan are told, explores how family legacies and old folktale are kept alive within a modernising Uganda. This fictional novel delves deep into the nation’s rich culture and history as Makumbi expresses an image of the real fabric of Ugandan society – making this novel both an entertaining and enlightening read!

Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People about Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge (2017)

In this book, Nigerian-British journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge opens up a dialogue on structural racism, white privilege, and the disconnect with reality which often runs through accounts of British history. This Top 5 Sunday Times Bestseller is Eddo-Lodge’s call to end the silence which continues to echo the topic of race in the UK, challenging us all to listen, to talk, and to act. Whatever your background, the frustrations and fears discussed in this book are sure to challenge your assumptions and open your eyes to insidious racial prejudice.

The Book of Memory - Petina Gappah (2016)

Fate, obsession, and the deceitful nature of memories are the central themes explored in Gappah’s novel ‘The Book of Memory’. Convicted of the murder of a white man and confined to Chikueubi Maximum Security Prison, protagonist Memory narrates the series of events leading up to her arrest as she remembers them. Her story reveals the dichotomy between what is real and what is assumed, told against the backdrop of a racially divided Zimbabwe in which white occupation complicates Memory’s quest for justice further.

The Guilty Feminist: From Our Noble Goals to Our Worst Hypocrisies – Deborah Frances-White (2018)

Following her hit “50-million download” comedy podcast, comedian Deborah Frances-White released in September her literary debut exploring the feminist musings and concerns we find ourselves coming back to again and again. From the diet industry to toxic masculinity and including interviews from feminist entertainers and activists alike, this comedic look at what modern feminism really means has been described as passionate, humorous and intelligent, and is certainly privileged on our reading lists this autumn.

The diversity of these books demonstrates that when it comes to being a woman and to being a feminist – anything goes! Through absorbing as many perspectives of life as possible, fictional or not, we can better understand other women and how to best celebrate them. Happy reading!

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