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Global Women Writers: Suggested Reading

What follows are suggested readings for a course on Global Women Writers; the
request asked especially for "books that students won't be able to put down."
The discussion took place on WMST-L in April 2007.  For additional WMST-L files
available on the Web, see the WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2007 15:04:41 -0400
From: gray <gray AT TCNJ.EDU>
Subject: Global Women's Fiction
Hi everybody--

I'm teaching a summer term version of our standard course, Global Women
Writers.  There's a near-infinite combination of texts that could be used in
this course, but I'd like (for the summer) to teach "delicious" books--books
that students won't be able to put down until they've finished.  I'm
starting with a colleague's recommendation of Abha Dawesar's _babyji_. I'm
thinking of also using Allende's _Daughter of Fortune_.  I've got a couple
of recommendations for Irish and Eastern European authors, but I'd like
recommendations by African diaspora authors, North African/middle Eastern
authors, indigenous American authors, or Pacific/Asian authors...anything
that has given you and your students the most pleasure, while tackling
postcolonial/transnational gender issues.  Thanks for any suggestions.

Janet Gray
The College of New Jersey
gray  AT  tcnj.edu
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2007 18:04:31 -0500
From: "Gardiner, Judith Kegan" <gardiner AT UIC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Global Women's Fiction
Persepolis I and II was a big hit.
Judith Kegan Gardiner
Director, Gender and Women's Studies Program
Professor of English & of Gender and Women's Studies
Gender and Women's Studies Program (MC 360)
University of Illinois at Chicago
601 S. Morgan St.
Chicago IL 60607-7107
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 11:06:25 +1000
From: Bronwyn Winter <bronwyn.winter AT ARTS.USYD.EDU.AU>
Subject: Re: Global Women's Fiction
north african:
i highly recommend assia djebar's 'women of algiers in their apartment' (not
contemporary - published in 1980s - but a fabulous collection of stories,
with an excellent and beautifully-written essay on silencing of women as a
postscript. it's a very well-known 'classic'). well, anything by djebar in
fact.  don't know how she reads in translation but her work in french is
many other north african writers i might recommend are not, unfortunately,
available in english translation.

middle eastern (lebanon);
hanan al-shaykh's writing is well known and a 'good read'.  as is andrTe

sub-saharan african:
anything by buchi emecheta.  i recommend 'the joys of motherhood' (warning,
it's heart-rending, but one of the most resoundingly feminist novels i've
ever read), 'the slave girl' and 'destination biafra'.  her work is
tsitsi dangaremba:  'nervous conditions'.
ken bugul [a woman:  it's a pen name meaning 'sthg nobody wants']:  'the
abandoned baobab'.  (1980s, you may find it hard to track down but students
love it).

maryse condT:  'i, tituba, black witch of salem' (which if you wanted to get
into it, you could do in comparison with african-american author ann petry's
1964 novel, also narrated by tituba).  great read, brings in all sorts of
transnational/crosscultural/colonial/postcolonial issues.
also by condT:  'tales from the heart:  true stories of my childhood'.
autobiographical, an easy read.
and:  'windward heights'.  a rewriting of wuthering heights.  v. interesting
on the politics of blackness, whiteness and 'mTtissage' (and related
property/class issues, and women's place therein), and the history of the
colonised caribbean.  a complex and interesting story.
you also of course, have haitian author edwige danticat living in the US and
writing in english.

indigenous australian:
sally morgan's 'my place' is a well-known and by now classic
autobiographical novel.  (published in late 1980/early 1990s i think).  good
read, warm, not difficult, students would like it.

everyone i know recommends amTlie nothomb.  i have yet to read her work
(it's on my list), but her 'fear and trembling' is becoming a contemporary
classic. (there are a few other titles available in translation as well).
the trials of a french woman working for a japanese company.  apparently
very funny.

and, this may appear a hackneyed choice but i would have to recommend
arundhati roy's 'god of small things.'  not an easy read at first but one of
the most beautiful and complex pieces of writing i've ever read - the
initial effort required of the reader in the opening pages pays off in
bundles.  in short, it is a truly 'delicious' book.


Dr Bronwyn Winter
Senior Lecturer
Dept of French Studies School of Languages and Cultures
Mungo McCallum Building A17
University of Sydney  NSW 2006
email: bronwyn.winter  AT  arts.usyd.edu.au

Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2007 22:34:54 -0400
From: Jen Gieseking <jgieseking AT GMAIL.COM>
Subject: Re: Global Women's Fiction
I recommend Baghad Burning I and II from the Feminist Press.  I actually
recommend everything from the Feminist Press.  They put out great books.

Jen Gieseking
Ph.D. Candidate, Environmental Psychology
The Graduate Center, City University of New York
jgieseking  AT  gmail.com
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 08:35:55 -0400
From: Tamara Harvey <tharvey2 AT GMU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Global Women's Fiction
My students found Fatima Mernissi's Dreams of Trespass especially engaging.
They liked the storytelling, identified with the coming of age story, and
were challenged by the multiple perspectives on women's lives in 1940s and
50s Morocco.

Tamara Harvey

Tamara Harvey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
Faculty affiliations: Women's Studies
George Mason University
4400 University Drive, MSN 3E4
Fairfax, VA  22030
tharvey2  AT  gmu.edu
Office: Robinson A 464
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 08:37:05 -0400
From: Amie Breeze Harper <harper2 AT FAS.HARVARD.EDU>
Subject: Re: Global Women's Fiction
I recommend
Arundhati Roy's "God of Small Things"
Octavia Butler's "Kindred"

Amie Breeze Harper
Harvard University
Masters Candidate
Educational Technologies
breezeharper  AT  gmail.com
RESEARCH URL: http://amieharperresearch.sistahveganproject.com/
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2007 10:38:16 -0400
From: Margaret D. Stetz <Chavvy AT AOL.COM>
Subject: Re: Global Women's Fiction
Although they are supposedly "Young Adult" fiction, Lensey Namioka's two
related novels about young women in China of the 1920s and their very different
journeys to the U.S.--_Ties That Bind, Ties That Break_ and _An Ocean Apart, a
World Away_--work equally well in a university classroom. So, too, does the
marvelous comic novel _Yoruba Girl Dancing_ by Simi Bedford, which also deals
with cross-cultural issues through the story of a protagonist who moves
back-and-forth between Nigeria and post-WWII England. Undergraduates appreciate
the fact that all of these works are written in a "popular" and engaging style,
feature admirable female characters, emphasize the value of education for
women, and have positive outcomes for the protagonists. Global women's fiction
does not always have to be a grim subject.

Margaret D. Stetz
Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies
and Professor of Humanities
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716
email: Stetzm  AT  udel.edu or Chavvy  AT  aol.com
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 14:31:56 -0400
From: pjkafka <pjkafka AT earthlink.net>
Subject: Global Women's Fiction
Some more suggestions, all "easy to read" literature.

1. Sawako Ariyoshi, The Silent Years. (Japanese).
2. R(uth) A. Sasaki, The Loom and other Stories. (cross-cultural,intergenerational,Japanese American)
2. M. Evelina Galang, Her Wild American Self (Cross-cultural, Phillipines to U.S.  Short stories). 
3. Wang Ping, American Visa (Cross-cultural, Communist China to U.S., short stories) 
4. Amy Tan, The Kitchen God's Wife (epic. Cross-cultural, Chinese to Chinese American]
5. Gish Jen, Typical American) (Cross-cultural, China to U.S.)
6. Kamala Markandaya, Nectar in a Sieve (epic Indian novel.  A classic.)
7. Mahasweta Devi, The Breast and Other Stories, intro. and trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Indian)
8. Nawal al Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero (Egyptian)
9. Alifa Rifaat, Distant View of a Minaret (African. Short stories)
10.Hanan al Shaykh, Women of Sand and Myrrh (Lebanese author, cross-cultural)

Dr. Phillipa Kafka
Professor Emerita, English
Kean University
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2007 13:44:23 -0500
From: Judith Gardiner <gardiner AT UIC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Global Women's Fiction
Also Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis ! and II, graphic novels.
Judith Kegan Gardiner
Director, Gender and Women's Studies Program
Professor of English and of Gender and Women's Studies
Gender and Women's Studies Program (mc 360)
University of Illinois at Chicago
601 S. Morgan Street
Chicago IL 60607-7107

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