Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Women Rising

Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, Kristin Hannah, Emma Straub, Elin Hildebrand, Jo Jo Moyes, Laura Lippman, Tracey Wood, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lisa See, Shanti Sekeran, Laura Morelli,  Kelly Rimmer, Sue Grafton, Delia Owens, Madeline Miller, Anne Lamott, Emily Henry, Elif Shafak. Yaa Gyasi, Gail Tsukiyami, Britt Bennett, Jeanine Cummins. These are some of the authors I’ve either read or listened to on Audible the past few years. Notice anything?


The proliferation of woman authors here is worth noticing. Not only that I seem to enjoy reading them, but there are so many these days doing such fine, fine work. For those who wonder whether indeed there has been any progress in women’s liberation, whether more voices are finally allowed at the table (including representation above by Turkish, Ghanaian, Nigerian, African American, Chinese/Japanese American, Indian American), here is tangible proof that things have changed and are continuing to change. 


Consider. In my incomplete education, the number of women authors I’ve known about before 1800 are limited to Sappho in ancient Greece (around 600 BCE), Lady Murasaki in Japan (around 1000 CE) and Mirabai in India (around 1600 CE). In the 1800’s, things begin to move with novelists Jane Austen, George Eliot, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Mary Shelley, Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Gaskell, Harriet Beecher Stowe and poets Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Barrrett Browning and Christine Rossetti.  By the early 1900’s, the list multiplies exponentially (think Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein, Zora Neale Hurston, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Agatha Christie, Willa Cather, Eudora Welty, etc.) and yet another generation (Pearl Buck, Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, Maya Angelou, Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison, etc. etc. and again etc.) before arriving at the explosive list of women authors in the last 30 or 40 years. 


Note. The above names that make it into Wikipedia are authors whose works found their way into the publishing stream. I’m pretty certain that there are likely genius women writers from all centuries and places whose work lay hidden in a desk drawer somewhere. Likewise, women who may have published in other countries whose works never reached these shores. 


But all of that is changing— and thankfully so. In looking up a few things to write this, I discovered some early writers I didn’t know about (look forward to reading A Vindication of the Rights of Womanby Mary Wollstonecraft published in 1792 and the poetry of Phyliss Wheatley) and some current women authors from other countries (Anita Heiss—Indigenous Australian, Nawal el Saadawi — Egypt, Trang Ha—Vietnam, Noviolet Bulawayo—Zimbabwe and more.) 


But the woman author I most look forward to reading is Kerala Goodkin Taylor. Publishers, can you please add her to the list?


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