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We're happy to welcome Elizabeth Fitzgerald to Lady Business today to give us the rundown on all the amazing women writers who helped carve out space in the literary scene of Australia and the women currently writing today. Thanks, Elizabeth!
Australian Women Writers
What makes a good list? On episode #44 of Fangirl Happy Hour, you probably heard special guest Gin Jenny of Reading the End offer her criteria: time period, tone, race, and gender. I have one other that I like to add to that: nationality. Being biased, this usually means I’m looking for Australian authors.
Being an Australian reader and fan is an interesting thing. We have such a strong SFF scene and I find it disappointing how little that gets recognised on an international scope. As a book blogger, I try to counter this by keeping a focus (mostly) on home-grown work, and I always keep an eye on Australian representation in award nominations and recommendation lists.
So when I recently ran across a list of 100 SFF novels written by women, I scanned it eagerly for familiar names. After all, Australia has an excellent tradition when it comes to female SFF writers—particularly in fantasy, as author and critic Tansy Rayner Roberts has noted. I was disappointed to see that in this list of 100 there were just two: Juliet Marillier and KJ Bishop. Both are brilliant authors (and Kirsten is an amazing sculptor to boot), but there were dozens of deserving names that could be added.
I realise no list can be definitive. More than anything, they should serve as a starting point for further exploration of a topic. With that in mind, I offer you my own list.
If you’re a reader looking for a general introduction to Australian women SFF writers, the Twelve Planets series from Twelfth Planet Press is a good place to start. These are short, single-author collections by some of Australia’s finest writers. Each book contains four stories and are a great way to dip in and get a feel for whether this author is for you.( Read more... )
20/08/16: Minor corrections have been made to this post since it went up. Trudi Canavan's fantasy is not YA as previously stated, and Lisa Hannet's "Lament For The Afterlife" is a novel not a collection of short stories.
The Orange Prize is the International prize, with a long list made up entirely of novels from female writers and I enjoy reading about it every year. Last year I read as many long listed books as I could. This year, despite thinking that the judges had created a super powered exciting long list (theme parks, tigers, mermaids) and having five of the six short listed books in my house I’ve only read one book off the list.
It seems a shame to mark the first year of ladybusiness with an abscence of Orange Prize commentary, so I thought I’d share some links from other bloggers read through part of the long list. Some of them have been reading along for a few years and I always enjoy following their thoughts. Some are just having a go this year, like intrepid bookish adventurers. All have got plenty to say about this year's short-list
'Room' - Emma Donoghue
'The Memory of Love' - Aminatta Forna
'Grace Williams Says it Loud' - Emma Henderson
'Great House' - Nicole Krauss
'The Tiger’s Wife' -Téa Obreht
'Annabel' - Kathleen Winter
Bookgazing (the only one I’ve read so far so let's bang my post in here)
I sometimes worry that book list type posts are somehow cheating, which makes little sense considering how much I enjoy reading other people’s. But anyway, I do know no one will hold today’s post against me. Lady Business has been silent for a few weeks now, as all three of us were swallowed by school, life, or both. But we’re now ready to return, and the future holds actual reviews of books and other media, including epic three way ones which will make the universe explode with their sheer number of words. In the meantime, I’ll ease myself back into this space with a list of books by ladies that have caught my eye:
- How to Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ. This first caught my attention at my university’s library a few months ago, but I was reminded me of again recently both because the author unfortunately passed away and because the cover was making the rounds on tumblr. The book has been described as a “sarcastic guidebook” to the history of women’s literature, which kind of makes it sound like a sexism-focused version of Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. WANT.
- Dude, You’re a Fag by C.J. Pascoe. My friend Chris added this to a list of possible books for us to read together, and I immediately got ridiculously excited because it sounds like it would make for awesome background reading for my dissertation. The subtitle is “Masculinity and Sexuality in High School” – with basis on her PhD research, Pascoe analyses the links between sexism, heteronormativity, and enforced ideals of masculinity in high school culture. (On a side note, I made the mistake of clicking 1 star reviews of this on Amazon: they’re all by reviewers who are outraged that a feminist, who obviously “hates men”, would dare write about masculinity. One is very suggestively titled “excrement on paper”. Naturally I should have stopped reading there – I have no idea why I do these things to myself.)
- Girl Reading by Katie Ward — A new Virago! Girl Reading is a collection of interconnected short stories (these words, by the way, are music to my ears) spanning from 1333 to 2060, and each inspired by an image of a girl or woman reading.
- The Secret Feminist Cabal by Helen Merrick. I blame Renay for this, though to be fair the subtitle alone would have sold me: “A cultural history of science fiction feminists”. I want it so badly.
- Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories Sandra McDonald. More interconnected short stories! And to make it even better, this book was shortlisted for the very awesome James Tiptree Jr award (previous winners of which include The Knife of Never Letting Go and Cat Valente's The Orphan's Tales). I was sold by this review, which says:
McDonald’s spare distortion forces the reader to reconsider his own notions of cultural history, and she does this to great effect, whether taking on gender ideologies (“Diana Comet and the Disappearing Lover”), homophobia (“The Fireman’s Fairy”), or racism (“Fay and the Goddesses”). None of these issues are presented glibly, didactically, or clumsily; indeed, it’s through the slightest distortions of fantastic imagination that the reader must re-examine his own society through McDonald’s reflective lens.And:
I think here of Ursula K. LeGuin’s marvelous novel The Left Hand of Darkness, a book toward which I believe Diana Comet bears considerable comparison, particularly with respect to the exploration of how gender and sexuality functions in a society.
- Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting. Another James Tiptree listee. Lorian Long at Bookslut says:
Nutting recognizes gender for the fucked game it is, and violation via structure, via holding, is what Nutting intends to untangle, knot by knot. A shaky foundation for bodies to slip through, these stories give way to fantastic chaos in which we lose sense of meaning, moments, memory, and performance. Without boundaries, the body is capable.