Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day | Women Authors, Part II

As my own contribution to International Women's Day, I thought I'd write on five more favourite women authors, this time focusing particularly on women who write from their own perspective of the world and lend their own cultural knowledge to the characters they create. A couple of these authors have only written one book, but their voice is nonetheless valuable in the literary world. Part I of this series can be found here.

Jhumpa Lahiri
Favourite work // Interpreter of Maladies
I've talked about Lahiri several times recently as she is a newfound favourite of mine. Lahiri is a Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian American author whose books feature Bengali protagonists and focus on cultural and familial problems. She crafts characters that come from vastly different backgrounds than what I'm knowledgeable about, yet she makes them relatable to all readers by focusing on their humanness rather than the differences of their culture.

Yaa Gyasi
Only work // Homegoing
I talked about Homegoing in a recent reads post a few months ago, and despite it being her only book so far, it marks an incredible author debut. Gyasi used her Ghanaian American background to craft a book that spans both countries over many decades whilst maintaining her characters' dimensionality and complications. Homegoing deserves every honour it received, and Gyasi has proven herself to be an author worth keeping an eye on.

Daphne du Maurier
Favourite work // Rebecca
I've been obsessively reading every du Maurier novel my library owns, so I can say with authority that du Maurier was an expert at moody romance with unconventional endings. Rebecca is her most famous work and my personal favourite, but books like Jamaica Inn, My Cousin Rachel, and The House on the Strand have their share of moody, haunting tones. Du Maurier constantly took the romance genre and added unexpected twists, and it's no wonder her works continue to be popular decades after her death.

Imbolo Mbue
Only work // Behold the Dreamers
Mbue is another new voice in the literary world with only one published work, but her newfound popularity adds some much needed diversity to the mainstream book genre. Behold the Dreamers tackles the American financial crisis from the perspective of an Cameroonian immigrant family (Mbue's native country) and follows them as they navigate the fast-moving working class and elite worlds of NYC. Mbue maintains a sense of reality throughout her writing, as the ending edges on tragic rather than smoothing out into a fictional happy ending.

Shirley Jackson
Favourite work // The Haunting of Hill House
Jackson was a visionary in the horror genre and has inspired many other famous authors, including Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, with her sinister stories. Jackson threads a sense of unease and the supernatural into each of her tales, even her short stories, and they remain some of the best of the genre to this day despite their dated setting. The Haunting of Hill House is a full-on ghost story, but many of her other works imply supernatural influences without explaining much of the backstory.

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