Need Help Finding Ms Write?

IMG_2486One of the things that bugs me most as a reader and a feminist is how much harder it is for female writers to get published, win awards and sell books than it is for male authors.

Strong claims I know, but this article isn’t about proving them but doing something about it! (I’ll pop a few links at the end for those of you that want to know more about that) So today I’m creating a little guide to introduce you all to which women to read based on the kind of male writers you already like reading – in short, I’m going to help you find your Ms Write!

Stephen King

He is one of the most widely read writers on the planet and you know who he reads? Female writers. Ok he reads a tonne of both male and female writers and he recommends the good ones all the time on his twitter feed. One of his most recent recommends is Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes. She’s also the author of last year’s 13 minutes reviewed here by yours truly.  Definitely worth checking out if you like creepy suspense stories

Neil Gaiman 

You know we love Neil Gaiman so of course we’re not suggesting you stop reading him but in between his books why not treat yourself to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern or Tatterdemalion by Sylvia V Linsteadt? Both will satisfy your need for the magical and mysterious!

George Orwell

Rightfully reknowned as the master of dystopian fiction but that’s not to say there’s no room for a mistress of it and Margaret Atwood is undisputedly she. The Handmaid’s tale is a book everyone should read (particularly in the current political claimate when it seem rather prescient) but it’s also worth checking out her other works. Kelly reviewed The Heart Goes Last recently and thought it was her best work yet – read more here. Another interesting author you may also like to check out is Johanna Sinisalo, I loved her book The Core of The Sun.

Colson Whitehead

Winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize, Colson Whitehead wrote an interesting re-imagining of an escaping slave narrative. He is an excellent writer but personally I’d recommend Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing over The Underground Railroad any day of the week. I was lucky enough to review both of them so click the highlighted words to see more. Other contenders include Alice Walker and Toni Morrison of course.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This much loved author created some of the most sumptuous historical fiction suffused with magical realism. The obvious choice for a female counterpart is Isabel Allende though Laura Esquival’s Like Water For Chocolate also deserves a mention. But if you’re not fussed about the South American connection you might also want to try Natasha Pulley’s The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

JRR Tolkien

J K Rowling – enough said!

Bernard Cornwall / Robert Harris / Ken Follet

If richly detailed, political and sometimes brutal historical fiction is your thing then fear not – Hilary Mantel has one an army of fans for just such writing! And she’s not alone, other terrific female authors to check out are Tracy Chevalier, Barbara Kingsolver Geraldine Brooks and Sarah Waters.

Alexander McCall Smith

We all need a Cosy from time to time and McCall Smith has made a fortune by writing great Cosy books that men are happy to read because they are written by a man! But Gent’s there are plenty of other authors you will love. There’s no shame being seen reading an Agatha Christie but if you fancy something newer and maybe something also set in Africa check out Welcome to Lagos by Chibundo Onuzu.

Lee Childs / Ian Rankin / James Patterson etc etc etc!

Gritty thrillers may seem to be the traditional domain of the male writer but oh my – there are so many females with them in their sites that they may have to take a bunch of contracts on them all! Whether you like forensic crime, police drama’s or serial killers there’s a woman out there writing it and writing it well! Ruth Rendell, Patricia Cornwall and Karin Slaughter may be the best known but we also recommend Ruth Dugdall, Anya Lipska and Hannah Tinti.

Phew! Ok so I haven’t covered quite every Genre yet but I’m hoping that will keep you going a while! If you have any suggestions to add I’d love to hear them so please pop a comment below!

Oh – and here are those further reading links!

Writing under a male name makes you eight times more likely to get published one female author finds

Make vs female writers – an infographic 

Books about women don’t win big awards: some data

 

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan

imageJonah Williams was born a slave. On his eighteenth birthday he gathers together a few stolen coins and a knife and flees the South Carolina plantation on which he was born.

With just the clothes on his back, not even a pair of shoes, he starts to run. He doesn’t even have a clear idea of where to head, he just knows to go north so he follows the North Star. During the day and running through the night. Somehow he eludes the men sent to capture him, but when he meets Angel in North Carolina she decides that he is her ticket to freedom and follows him without his permission.

This is one of the books I planned to review for Black History Month last October. But when I looked up the author I found he was white and decided to leave the review till later instead. There is a debate around appropriation and as part of thought process around making such a feature of Black History Month was to put deserving black authors into the spotlight it didn’t seem right to promote this book then.

But this is one of those books that has me in a quandry about the appropriation argument. On the one hand I agree that there is very real discrimination in the publishing industry and this needs to be addressed. However, slave stories are not the only stories black people have to tell and I’m equally  disheartened by the lack of chick-lit,business books, crime and sci-fi written by and featuring black people as I am worried about their stories being stolen to make profit for white writers. (To be truthful few writers make a good living off their writing so that point is moot in many cases.

There is also the fact that this story was in my opinion more respectful of those that escaped slavery than Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad which re-imagined the ‘underground railroad’ that helped many slaves escape, as an actual real train running underground. It was a well written and widely lauded book but for me the concept was deeply flawed, particularly as so many Americans are so gullible they’ll happily elect Trump.

I have to admit though that although the writing in this book is perfectly serviceable, it isn’t as good as Whitehead’s. The charachter development, scene setting and story are all better though so overall I would recommend this above Whitehead’s book for those interested in the lives of those slaves who ran to freedom and the trials they endured. For that aspect alone it is also a better read than Roots by Alex Haley, though I’d also recommend Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi as another great read alongside this one.

4 Bites

NB I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in return for an honest review. The BookEaters always write honest reviews

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

homegoing
Click here to order from Waterstones

A woman gives birth, then sets a fire to run away leaving her child behind. The child Effia grows into a great beauty and is given in marriage to a white man, a slave trader.

Her mother gives birth to another daughter, Esi. While Effia is living above the slave dungeons her unknown sister is beneath her, laying beneath other women and feeling their urine run down between her own legs before she is dragged away on a slave ship to America.

The story follows their descendents, showing us vignettes that highlight the most important moments of their lives – the moments things changed or coelesced into their true essence. We meet them picking cotton in Mississippi, at political meetings in Ghana, in the coal mines of Pensylvania or the missionary schools of Ghana through to the dive bars of Harlem and the universites of Ghana and America.

I really enjoyed this book, it takes the one fault I found with Roots and redresses it. We stay with each character long enough to care about them and get real insight into their lives but the book also keeps moving down the generations steadily. There’s roughly equal time spent with each character whether male or female. Often characters pop up again in their children or grandchildren’s stories which feels very natural and allows the reader to feel part of the story.

The descriptions are excellent also, I’ve never been to Ghana but I feel like I would recognise parts of it now if I was lucky enough to visit. For that matter I haven’t been to most of the U.S but I’ve seen it and read descriptions of it so often that I didn’t really notice those descriptions so much, they weren’t jarring though so they must have been good.

There are some very visceral scenes in this book, and some really uplifting ones. It does a good job of showing how slavery branded people on both sides of the trade. But at the same time it shows how strong the human spirit is.

4 Bites

 

 

GemBookEater
I was reading before I started school and I have no plans to stop now! I usually have at least two books on the go at once, one non-fiction and one fiction. I like reading books based in reality that flick open the doors to the mysteries of the heart or of the spirit.