• Kamy Wicoff
  • Let's Make A List: It's International Women's Day
This blog was featured on 09/01/2016
Let's Make A List: It's International Women's Day

Tonight, on the eve of International Women's Day, I decided to turn to my own bookshelves and take some inventory. (First problem: I need to buy more bookshelves.) I knew I wasn't understocked when it came to books by women writers, but I suspected my shelves were predominantly stocked with books written in English, or, at their most exotic, works translated from European languages.

As it turns out, predominantly doesn't begin to cover it. I am a certified bookaholic, but tonight I was dismayed to discover that my addiction has primarily consisted of devouring books written almost exclusively by Western writers. (I am currently enraptured by Elizabeth Jane Howard's Cazalet Chronicles) Given my deeply held belief that we are not only the stories we tell, but the stories we read, this represents nothing less than a gaping hole in my understanding of this world. I need to read more books written by women who live in places other than Europe and the U.S. And I need you to help me get started.

So today, in honor of International Women's Day, please post your favorite book written by a woman writer from a country other than your own on your She Writes page, and help me write my shopping list. (I'm going to start be revisiting Jean Casella's fabulous blogpost, "Lost (and Found) In Translation: Top Ten Books by International Women Writers," and by picking up the anthology co-edited by new She Writer Elizabeth Nunez, Stories from Blue Latitudes: Carribbean Women Writers At Home and Abroad). Tag it "international women", include it in your "what brings you here" feed, Tweet it, Facebook it, and through your example inspire everyone in your world to do the same.

Most powerful of all, however, if you can, do one, wonderful thing more: join me in buying a book, or borrowing a book (or a whole bunch of books) written by a woman from a country different from your own. She Writes has members from more than thirty countries, including Egypt, Columbia, Mexico, Iran, the Netherlands, Germany and Qatar. We are international in our membership, and tomorrow we should be international in our spirit and our actions. I know that many other actions will be taking place tomorrow to honor the day -- please share your participation in them with our community, too. Days like tomorrow are good days. They are days that raise our consciousness and call us to act. I, for one, am looking forward to connecting with women around the world by supporting their efforts as writers, and learning from their stories. I hope you will, too.

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  • Barbara A. Atkins

    BLUE LATITUDES by Elizabeth Nunez. This is a collection of 26 short stories from female Caribbean writers known and unknown. The authors tell about life in the Caribbean, the dissent and unrest on their islands, they tell of love, sexual exploitation, family life and abuse. The stories are vividly told and are rich with the details Caribbean writers are so adept at doing in their writings.

  • Ditto to Isabel Allende! I'm reading her Zorro right now, and it's as wonderful as the rest.
    Also, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from Nigeria is spectacular. She's been called the "next Chinua Achebe." Purple Hibiscus and Half a Yellow Sun are both breath-taking books.

  • Anne Manyak

    House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende (born in Peru, raised in Chile), as well as all of her other novels (Eva Luna, Daughter of Fortune, Portrait in Sepia, and more), and autobiography, My Invented Country; http://www.isabelallende.com/
    Dreaming in Cuban, by Cristina Garcia
    Under the Royal Palms, by Alma Flor Ada (a great read for teaching at the middle school level)
    Eva Peron, by Alicia Dujovne Ortiz, a much needed woman's perspective about Eva

  • I'll add Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.

  • Toni D. Weymouth

    I like The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, the story about a woman in Eastern Europe in search of 15th century's Vlad the Impaler and the truth about his connection to her family's past.

  • Kira Gould

    I recommend Wangari Maathai's memoir, Unbowed. And also work by Jill Ker Conway... and of course Vandana Shiva's critical works on food. This is all nonfiction.

  • Ramola D

    This is fabulous--I have to run out and buy/borrow/steal all these books now! I'd recommend The Time of the Doves, by Merce Rodoreda--exquisite writing, story, narrative--set during the Spanish Civil War by a Catalan writer; Sandra Cisneros introduced me to this book, she said in her interview with me some years ago this was one of the books she could return to, to re-center or situate herself; it's become that for me too.

  • Jacki Zehner

    I agree with the last comment! Kamy how about a resource section of some sorts that can capture lists like these. You all rock!

  • Lynne Kenney, PsyD

    I think shewrites should be renamed shereads and loving it! TY for all the intelligent banter and book leads. Wish I cld spend all day every day here. Kamy will you amass the ultimate list or is that indulgent of me?

  • Carlen Arnett

    I confess a dreadful ignorance of non-American literature, but fell in love with Adélia Prado's Alphabet in the Park when I was first introduced to it twenty years ago. She's a Brazilian poet, and the poems, sexy, domestic, filled with longing and memory, are skilfully brought into English by SheWrites member poet and translator, Ellen Doré Watson.

  • Julie W Weston

    Hunting and Gathering by Anna Galavada, a French writer. This book is set in Paris with four disparate characters who come together. Wonderful writing, deep characters and satisfying ending.

  • Suzanne Linn Kamata

    Everything Good Will Come by Nigerian author Sefi Atta

  • Naomi Thiers

    What a great idea! I highly recommend The Little School by Alicia Partnoy, her accounting of being a "desaparacida" in Argentina in the 70s--moving, gritty, sad, beautifully and lightly written, and--cliched as it sounds--still full of hope. Her poetry is great too. I plan to tweet this as well, and I'm inspired to buy today Partnoy's latest book of poetry.

  • Barbara A. Atkins

    I too am looking forward to connecting with women around the world. There are so many wonderful books on this site. I'm interested in her books and her stories of aging gracefully through life.

  • Sandra Tarling

    The strangely beautiful, epic History by Elsa Morante. It still lingers in my mind years later, & led me to read Lily Tuck's A Life of Elsa Morante: Woman of Rome a couple months ago.

  • Michelle Daly

    I Know You By Heart by Linda Spear. This is the American author's first novel and I couldn't put it down until I'd finished. I absolutely loved it!

  • Jean Casella

    I just posted a list of books by Iraqi and Afghan women writers--check it out here.

  • Joan Colby

    Krik Krak by Edwidge Danticat; Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

  • Once in a Promised Land by Laila Halaby, Absolutely beautiful book from a brilliant Jordanian-American writer.

  • Judaye Streett

    I enjoyed and recommend "Free Enterprise" by Michelle Cliff.

  • Kathleen Sweeney

    Dear Kamy,

    I have been loving reading the suggested reads on Twitter! I'd love to add a book by a French writer: The Lover (L'Amant) by Marguerite Duras?

    Thanks for all the great kinetics!

    Kathleen Sweeney

  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Nonfiction.

  • Eloise Klein Healy

    Our neighbors to the north have given us many wonderful books to read, but I would have to say that one of my favorites is Helen Humphreys' Wild Dogs. I stumbled on the book by accident and have now read all of her work.

  • Diane Tegarden

    A moving story of a freedom fighter for the American farm workers (who has been overlooked by the historians) is Maria Elena Lucas, her book which was origianlly written in Spanish and translated into English is "Forged under the Sun/ Forjada bajo el sol” by Maria Elena Lucas, edited by Fran Leeper Buss. A great read!

  • I highly recommend The Seamstress: A Novel by Frances De Pontes Peebles (South American)