Men Write Novels, Women Write Chick Lit, NOT.

Well it’s not.

In fact, women write novels, novels that cross multiple genres. Women write books about women – that does not make them chick lit, any more than a man writing about a woman is writing chick lit (can you say The Marriage Plot?).

Women write books about men, too. Women write great novels, serious novels, funny novels, profound novels, historical novels, epic sweeping novels. Women write, well, everything.

The last 12 months alone has been a banner year for women writers, so to get you started here is a selection to pay attention to. After you have read these novels, you’ll come away with the satisfying experience of having read great books, and the fact they are written by women is just an added bonus.

Life After Life by Kate AtkinsonKate Atkinson. Life after Life.
What if you could live your life all over again? It’s something we’ve all probably thought about. Well Ursula Todd, Kate Atkinson’s heroine, does just this by being born again and again and again and each time she begins her life anew circumstances shift just a little leading to profound changes in the outcome of the life of this singular English heroine and even the outcome of history itself.

AmericanahChimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Americanah.
Now here’s an identity conundrum. If you are an African in America is that the same as being an African-American? What makes a citizen of the world? Americanah is novel of race, globalization and ambition written in memorable prose. Don’t take my word for it. Take it from Beyoncé. By sampling excerpts from a TED talk by Adichie in her recent song “Flawless,” the pop star is making a whole new audience sit up and take notice of this exciting talent.
the love affairs of nathaniel P.Adelle Waldman. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
A woman writing in the voice of a man. Oh, the audacity. But Adelle Waldman pulls it off in this brilliant debut novel. Nathaniel Piven is an aspiring literary light on the cusp of stardom. Heaven forbid that the complications of relationships interfere with the vision that Nathaniel has of himself. But Nathaniel is full of himself, tone deaf, unable to successfully navigate even his good relationships. He is a guy rendered so realistically you probably know him and you will be talking back at him for the duration of the book.

me before you JoJo Moyes. Me Before You.
If I tell you this is a weepy story about a young woman who, desperate for work, takes a job looking after a cranky young man who became a quadriplegic after a traffic accident, I fear I will be selling it short. It is those things but so much more, it is funny and challenging and painful and uplifting. This book is my sleeper hit of the year.I had no idea what to expect but I loved it and am now a certified Jojo Moyes fan.

The list continues:

Donna Tartt. The Goldfinch.
Epic, grand, sweeping, Dickensian.

Jhumpa Lahiri. The Lowland.
Beautifully rendered story of brotherly love and the price of duty.

Ayana Mathis. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.
The harsh challenges and legacy of America’s Great migration as told through one woman’s family

Susan Choi. My Education.
A campus love affair with a twist and a literary erotic novel to boot.

Meg Wolitzer. The Interestings.
Can friendships forged during a carefree teen summer really stand the test of time?

Jo Baker. Longbourn.
Jane Austen’s most famous family, the Bennett’s, may not have matched the Darcy’s or the Bingley’s in wealth, but they still had a staff and Jo Baker imagines their life “downstairs”.

You get the picture, the state of women’s writing is strong and I didn’t even mention Hannah Kent or Jennifer Wiener or Elin Hildebrand or Claire Messud or A.S.A. Harrison or J. Courtney Sullivan or so many others. So, ignore the naysayers and go and get lost in all this fantastic feminine talent.

Congrats to Teresa T., Bonnie W., Erin M., Donna W., Jen Lynn R., and 195 other members of the Read It Forward community! Their entries were selected at random to win a paperback copy of A Breast Cancer Alphabet by Madhulika Sikka.

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