Feminist fiction suggestions?

// 28 July 2008

So, I’ve been having a bit of a fiction binge. Well, I was sick all last week and staring at a screen for more than 10 minutes at a time was not on the cards. I managed to demolish my ‘to read’ stack of fiction, in between bathroom trips (your editor was not a pretty site last week, truth be told).

Despite being a fiction fan, I’ve not actually read a huge amount of feminist fiction, above and beyond obvious examples like the Handmaid’s Tale. I’ve seen some other feminist bloggers are swapping booklists at the moment – and, as always, Other Stories is keeping us up to date on her reading plans.

So what about it – what feminist/feminist-inflected fiction do you recommend? I’ll begin with my most recent reads that fall under this description – Girl Meets Boy, by Ali Smith and Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston. I’ve not read this comic book response to the work of self-described feminist Tori Amos, but it looks lush.

Photo by chotda, shared under a Creative Commons license

Comments From You

Michelle F // Posted 28 July 2008 at 7:50 pm

I recently finished “The Birth House” by Ami McKay and found it an excellent piece of feminist and historical fiction. Here is a link to the description of the book: http://www.thebirthhouse.com/description.htm

ConservaTorygirl // Posted 28 July 2008 at 7:53 pm

I’ve just read Kira Cochrane’s first novel and really enjoyed it although I think her writing has matured a lot since then, if that doesn’t sound too patronising. It’s called Escape Routes for Beginners and is dead good.

Abby O'Reilly // Posted 28 July 2008 at 7:58 pm

OOO I love books!hehe..

The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter is fantastic! As is The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath gives some good insights into depression and mental health problems. Brick Lane by Monica Ali is also interesting.

Alias Grace is, in my opinion, Atwood’s best book. Orxy and Crake, Bodily Harm, The Edible Woman, Surfacing, The Blind Assasin and The Robber Bride are also worth a look.

Taming the Beast by Emily Maguire was the type of book I wanted to read again and again! Really brilliant!

The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina are addictive!hehe…As is Nabokov’s Lolita!

Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith, Affinity and Tipping the Velvet are good (Affinity is the best though, hehe).

There are just sooo many! I think Martin Amis’s London Fields gives good insights into the social construction of gender, more the creation of masculinity than anything else, but I’ll stop the list now, hehe..Sorry, books are something I have a great passion for, harkening back to my misspent youth as a geek!hehe..x

tom hulley // Posted 28 July 2008 at 8:13 pm

I don’t really know as feminism means many things and I am not the best judge but meanwhile:

Philippa Gregory: Bread and Chocolate

Faiza Guene: Just Like Tomorrow

Jill Murphy: The Worst Witch Saves the Day

all undermined patriarchy in amusing and telling ways

chem_fem // Posted 28 July 2008 at 8:23 pm

I have enjoyed:

The womens room by Marilyn French

Fear of Flying by Erica Jong.

I’m trying to read my way through this list of books at the moment:


bzzzzgrrrl // Posted 28 July 2008 at 8:59 pm

I like virtually anything by Margaret Atwood, for sure. Handmaid’s Tale got a lot of attention, but her other books are as good or better, I think.

I would read anything Alice Walker ever wrote, ever.

And my favorite feminist fiction is The Female Man, by Joanna Russ. Russ has written lots of sci-fi, and some great nonfiction, but The Female Man is just a classic. The structure is as subversive as the writing, and her use of language is fantastic.

Emily // Posted 28 July 2008 at 9:05 pm

Oooh some of those are great. I would reccomend ‘the red tend’ by Anita Diament.

It’s the story of Dinah, sister of Joseph and basically the lives of women in biblical timage. I thought it was very interesting.

Jenni Wren // Posted 28 July 2008 at 9:14 pm

Perhaps an obvious suggestion but any fiction published by Virago. I’m addicted.

E-Visible Woman // Posted 28 July 2008 at 9:21 pm

Recently I’ve been reading:

– Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, which I really enjoyed. Lovely story about feminist awakenings and lesbianism, though her depictions of black people and race relations in the early 20th century left a lot to be desired.

– Kin (a collection of short stories by new black and asian women) edited by Karen McCarthy. Some of the stories were better than others – my favourite was about the women’s mental health counsellor who takes revenge on the men who’ve abused her patients!

And a couple I read a while ago but just can’t stop thinking about…

– The Women’s Decameron by Julia Voznesenskaya. A great book about women’s lives and stories, but very sad. A book I think men should read – and take our word for it when we say this reflects reality for women, and this is why we’re feminists.

– Under a Thin Moon by Livi Michael. About four working class women in a housing estate and their lives – the first book I’ve ever read where I felt that the book reflected my own reality!

I echo the Alice Walker statement.

And if you’re into poetry, you have to read Movement in Black by Pat Parker. Actually, you should read it regardless of whether you’re into poetry – it’s fantastic!

Rachel // Posted 28 July 2008 at 9:24 pm

Some of my favourites are Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy and anything that Angela Carter or A. S. Byatt ever touched (particularly Possession, or any of her collections of fairytales if you can get your hands on them.) Hope you’re feeling better Jess!

Saranga // Posted 28 July 2008 at 9:46 pm

Ooh reading suggestions, my favourite!

Blindness by Jose Saramego – lead character is a woman. Everyone in the world apart from her goes blind. Then the world falls apart as humanity can’t cope. Dark scary and very powerful.

George R R Martin’s a song fo ice and fire – wonderfully complex characters, different chracters, passes the bechdel test and includes Arya.

Jirel of Joiry stories by C L Moore. The Northwest Smith ones are rather annoying though.

Ursula Le Guin books. Take your pick.

Alice walker – the third life of grange copeland

Air by Geoff Ryman

Tamora Pierce’s Magic in the Weaving books.

Barbara Wilson – Walking ont he moon.

Check here for a list of feminist friendly sf and fantasy books:


In fact just visit that blog.

I tend to pick up anything from the Women’s Press.

Comics wise: Runaways, Buffy season 8 and Fray, Peter Davids run of Supergirl, Huntress year 1 (out now kids), Greg Rucka’s run of Wonder Woman, the Manhunter series (refers to the mass slaughter of women as a femicide!) , Promethea.

Comics wise do not go anywhere near anything by Frank Miller and avoid Greg Land’s or Michael Turner’s artwork. You risk pornface.

Saranga // Posted 28 July 2008 at 9:47 pm

And Marge Piercy’s the high cost of living. Blew me away.

Oxymoron // Posted 28 July 2008 at 9:57 pm

I second Sylvia Plath and Margaret Attwood (although I didn’t like ‘Bodily Harm’)

I would also recommend Jeanette Winterson ‘Oranges are not the Only fruit’ is fantastic, as is ‘The Passion’ which I’ve just finished reading

I will be coming back and checking out suggestions on this post – I love literature and I’m about to go and start a degree in it : )

Debs // Posted 28 July 2008 at 9:59 pm

Anything at all published by The Women’s Press. Look for the stripy spines, and the little iron logo!

Hazel // Posted 28 July 2008 at 10:55 pm

The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall – a look at a miserable future and what we (as women) might have to do to survive. It could do with being longer and have more of an ending but it is worth a read.

Hazel // Posted 28 July 2008 at 11:25 pm

Since someone mentioned comics could you try Brian K.Vaughan’s Y The Last Man and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home.

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis is also fantastic and though Satrapi doesn’t identify as a feminist, her work can certainly be read that way.

Kirsty // Posted 29 July 2008 at 12:00 am

I’m flattered to have my blog mentioned. Aside from my comfort zone of Victorian feminist novels like those by Sarah Grand, I would suggest the following:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (just read it this weekend and OH MY GOD it was amazing).

Mrs Dalloway and Orlando by Virginia Woolf.

Anything by Sarah Waters. And Ali Smith. And Jeanette Winterson.

Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood is my joint favourite alongside The Handmaid’s Tale.

Jane Eyre – an obvious one but amazing all the same.

The short stories of Grace Paley, especially her early ones.

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot.

Jess // Posted 29 July 2008 at 12:23 am

@Kirsty Hmm… George Elliot… I don’t know about this. Sure, everything she wrote was pretty amazing (Middlemarch is *so* much better than Mill on the Floss BTW!), but I don’t remember a particularly feminist angle to her writing. I think that novels written by women are different to feminist novels… See also George Sands… actually I wouldn’t even want to begin to list all the excellent female writers throughout history.

Lindsey // Posted 29 July 2008 at 8:50 am

If you like short stories try Katherine Mansfield – she was a contemporary of Virginia Woolf and wrote in a similar style, getting into women’s heads and looking at the world through their eyes.

chem_fem // Posted 29 July 2008 at 8:58 am

ooh, and He, She and it, by Marge Pearcy

Kirsty // Posted 29 July 2008 at 9:08 am

@Jess – I think The Mill on the Floss does have a strong feminist element running throughout it. It’s about a girl who desperately wants to learn and have the same education as her elder brother but she is denied it because she is a girl. Eliot based the character of Maggie Tulliver on some of her own experiences of being frustrated that men had more opportunities not just for education but also to work outside of the home, while she was expected to sit at home and sew, and other “feminine” things.

Basically a large part of the novel is about inequality between men and women, boys and girls, and how that inequality is instilled from the very earliest years. Pretty controversial for the time of writing – and pretty feminist IMHO.

Soirore // Posted 29 July 2008 at 9:34 am

I like Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch, I think that’s my only favourite that’s missing so far

Sabre // Posted 29 July 2008 at 10:01 am

I echo earlier posts – anything by Margaret Atwood is amazing!

I’m also currently reading The Women’s Room by Marilyn French. It’s very good apart from the er, occasional racism. Just today read the line ‘Soldiers, like niggers and chinks, all look alike’ and I’m still trying to figure out if it’s tongue-in-cheek. I suppose it reflects the time it was written in.

Sylvia Plath’s book of short stories called ‘Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams’ is brilliant.

MIlly // Posted 29 July 2008 at 10:11 am

I adore Margaret Atwood, and I loved Orxy and Crake, but is it a feminist book?

As far as I remember, Oryx is the only notable female character and she’s never really given her own voice – we only see her through the male character’s eyes. Plus she only seems to exist to be the love interest/trophy/mythical Eve figure…?

E-Visible Woman // Posted 29 July 2008 at 11:00 am

And I second what Debs said – do into second hand bookshops and hunt out Women’s Press books… they’re treasure!

Sabre // Posted 29 July 2008 at 11:23 am

What makes a book feminist anyway?

Oryx and Crake is also one of my faves, but it is seen from a male perspective, and Oryx, although in the title, doesn’t have a very active character or voice. However the book does beautifully explore gender relations (by using extreme futuristic scenarios, as in the Handmaid’s Tale).

Is there a Bechdel test for books?

chem_fem // Posted 29 July 2008 at 11:41 am

Sabre – I agree with not knowing how to take the racism in some books.

I felt the same about the racism in Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe.

sianmarie // Posted 29 July 2008 at 1:15 pm

where to start!! virginia woolf of course, esp orlando, to the lighthouse, mrs dalloway. then the short stories by katherine mansfield. also the autobiogrpahy of alice b toklas by gertrude stein is marvellous!

doris lessing is a must, and also any toni morrison, esp beloved. djuna barnes is good if you are up for it, altho often like walking through treacle, but worth the walk.

i love all margaret atwood, esp robber bride, cat’s eye and the blind assassin. angela carter as well, and short story books that she edited such as “Wayward Girls and Wicked Women”.

the robber groom by eudora welty.

finally, it’s total 1970s feminism cheese but when i was a teenager i read it all the time – small changes by marge piercy, it’s great!

sianmarie // Posted 29 July 2008 at 1:19 pm

also in reply to jess’ s comment i think middlemarch is very feminisit in it’s portrayal of marriage – esp between hoe dorothea leaves mr casaubon.

interesting point indeed

Saranga // Posted 29 July 2008 at 2:05 pm

Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. A bit dry and preachy but really interesting utopia.

I have always thought that John Wyndham did a lot with the women in his books. OK so they’re not as far reaching as we may like but the women were not just love interests – they were lead characters, many were scientists and their intelligence was celebrated.

For the time he was writing that was pretty damn astounding and is still a lot better than most modern writers.

Sabre // Posted 29 July 2008 at 2:24 pm

chem_fem – yep that’s exactly why I both love and hate the book Gone with the Wind; it’s all about a strong woman who defies conventions yet there is so much racism that I’m still not sure how to handle. So then I feel guilty for enjoying it! It’s difficult to read feminist books that strike a chord and then be pushed away by a racist line that tells me this book does not really include me.

bzzzzgrrrl // Posted 29 July 2008 at 2:27 pm

Interesting to think about what is and isn’t feminist fiction, and by what standards.

I came back to add to my list:

-Herland (I agree with Saranga’s opinion there)

-Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, also by Fanny Flagg, who wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. It’s an easy read, and hilarious, but also, I think, pretty feminist (though much less overtly than FGTATWSC).

Sian // Posted 29 July 2008 at 3:00 pm

I second more Atwood. And Virago books are ace, I’ve been having a binge recently. Nice font too, which helps!

“The House of Mirth” Edith Wharton is a great book, shows how vulnerable single women in high society were then, especially if they didn’t have a fortune.

“The Trouble with Lichen” by John Wyndham is an interesting book. It’s about a woman scientist (she nearly fails her job interview for being a bit too beautiful-her employer thinks she’ll marry in a year) who ends up using a discovery of hers to help women gain independence in an unusual way-I won’t say anymore in case I spoil it. You could discuss the feminist aspect to it for ages (I’m not sure I even agree with what the character does) and it’s very well written.

Cath Elliott // Posted 29 July 2008 at 3:10 pm

Great thread! I wonder how many of us will be printing this one out and working/reading our way through the suggestions..

Ok. Some of my favourites:

Pat Barker – Union Street.

Toni Morrison – Beloved, and Paradise.

Alice Walker – Meridian; the Colour Purple, and Possessing the Secret of Joy.

Helen Zahavi – Dirty Weekend.

Kate Muir – Suffragette City.

Dorothy Allison – Bastard out of Carolina.

Anna Quindlen – Black and Blue.

Barabara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible; Bean Trees, and Prodigal Summer.

Gloria Naylor – The Women of Brewster Place.

Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones.

Zoe Fairbairns – Stand We at Last.

Cockney Hitcher // Posted 29 July 2008 at 3:40 pm

If we’re including not necessarily self-described feminist books, I’d recommend ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ by Anne Bronte. I was struck by how controversial it must have been for its time.

I’d also recommend ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ by Barbara Kingsolver. I don’t know whether the author would describe herself as a feminist, but I think feminists would enjoy the book. It’s told from the point of view of several very different female protagonists and explores themes of racism and colonialism.

I thought ‘The Women’s Room’ by Marilyn French was good, but I felt angry for days after reading it! I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re feeling low/depressed. Ditto for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. I found that EXTREMELY depressing.

Soirore // Posted 29 July 2008 at 4:35 pm

I really don’t want to criticise anyone’s favourite books but I found The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold to be anything but female friendly.

After all it is about the victim of a paedophile/ rapist/ murderer. She get’s stuck in a sickly stereotyped adolescence (“heaven”) and he never pays for his crimes. I thought her sister and ghost-seeing friend were decent characters but that didn’t make up for the main tone of the book which was essentially showing us how “normal” violence against women and girls is without offering any hope. I felt it put too much emphasis on the responsibility of women to avoid being raped and killed while at the same time trying to say that it wasn’t their fault.

Sabre // Posted 29 July 2008 at 4:39 pm

‘Lucky’ by Alice Sebold is also good.

Cath Elliott // Posted 29 July 2008 at 5:04 pm

Soirore – Fair comment, although personally I really liked the narrator’s voice. But to be honest it’s so long ago since I read it I’d need to go back and re-read it to do any kind of proper critique. I just remember the impact it had on me the first time round.

Sabre – Lucky is an excellent book, but unfortunately it’s not fiction.

bzzzzgrrrl // Posted 29 July 2008 at 5:27 pm

Ooh! And again, in the light-reading-but-feminist vein, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. Odd to so enjoy books by a white (African-born) English man about the issues faced by African women, but I do.

George // Posted 29 July 2008 at 6:16 pm

Margaret Atwood’s best book is “Surfacing”, in my opinion…

shatterboxx // Posted 29 July 2008 at 7:31 pm

Shameless plug, but I’ve started doing feminist/mental health book reviews over at Crazy Like Us? I’ve only done one so far but if you feel like checking it out, that’d be great :) Also, that picture made me smile because all my books are arranged in rainbow colour too.

Iras // Posted 29 July 2008 at 7:35 pm

Cassandra by the German writer Christa Wolf for a woman’s view on the Trojan War

Liudmilla Petrushevskaia, Time: Night. Russian author who refuses to speak about being a feminist author.

Saranga // Posted 29 July 2008 at 11:26 pm

Sian; The Trouble with lichen – that’s the book I was trying to remember the title of earlier!

Defintley reccommended

Mephit // Posted 30 July 2008 at 12:10 am

I recently read and loved Marge Piercy’s ‘City of Darkness, City of Light’ which is set in the French revolution and has a number of narrative voices. It brings to the fore the role of women in those times as instigators of the bread riots and so forth. Piercy’s ‘Woman on the Edge of Time’ is also extremely good.

I’d also suggest ‘Native Tongue’ by Suzette Haden Elgin, which is particularly strong in its theme about the importance of language.

Or if you fancy some utopian fiction, how about ‘The Wanderground’ by Sally Miller Gearhart?

I’d also go along with suggestions regarding Atwood, Ursula Le Guin and Joanna Russ.

‘The Women’s Room’ is a really important novel, imo, and perhaps (arguably), the origin of the “all men are rapists” belief feminists allegedly subscribe to, while actually in the context of the novel, it works slightly differently :).

I really liked ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, a post-colonial take on ‘Jane Eyre’, fleshing out the madwoman in the attic as an actual living breathing person.

And with similar themes on insanity/marital oppression there’s the short story/novella “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which is available free on-line.

Kirsty // Posted 30 July 2008 at 9:57 am

How could I have forgotten about The Yellow Wallpaper?! It’s brilliant (though slightly depressing. And scary.)

Laura S // Posted 31 July 2008 at 12:52 pm

Mephit – props for mentioning ‘City of darkness, city of light’ and ‘Woman on the edge of time’ by Marge Piercy. Two of my favourite books. Have you read her ‘Small Changes’? I found it quite similar in tone to ‘The Women’s Room’.

Lindsey // Posted 1 August 2008 at 10:39 am

To steal an idea from the comment on Asian book covers: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni writes about women in India and the immigrant experience in America. I’ve read her book of short stories and loved it: great if you want to look at different cultural perspectives.

Nikki // Posted 1 August 2008 at 1:59 pm

The Beauty Myth by Naomi Klein is one of the most amazing books I have read for encouraging a positive attitude towards our own self-image as women and is a passionate arguments against the ‘skinny and young’ culture. I would strongly recommend that everyone should read this book and revel in how gorgeous you feel afterwards!

Cazz Blase // Posted 3 August 2008 at 11:29 am

Childrens Books:

The Ordinary Princess (M.M Kaye)

Ballet Shoes (Noel Streatfield)

Teenage/Young Adult Books:

Blind Beauty (K.M Peyton)

The Moon Riders (Theresa Tomlinson)

Voyage Of The Snake Lady (Theresa Tomlinson)

Roger Fishbite (Emily Prager)

Anything by Tamora Pierce

Adult Fiction:

Girls, Visions, and Everything (Sarah Schulman)

Tipping The Velvet (Sarah Waters)

The Diary Of A Provincial Lady (E.M Delafield)

Vows and Honour duology (Mercedes Lackey)

By The Sword (Mercedes Lackey)


From Girls To Grrrlz: A history of womens comics from teens to zines (Trina Robbins)

Reading Lolita In Tehran: A memoir in books (Azar Nafisi)

The Good Women Of China (Xinran)

She Bop II: The definitive history of women in rock, pop, and soul (Lucy O’Brien)

I Put A Spell On You: Dancing Women From Salome To Madonna (Wendy Buonaventura)

The Girls: Sappho Goes To Hollywood (Diana McLellan)

How To Live Alone And Like It: A Guide For The Extra Woman (Marjorie Hillis)

Eternally Bad: Godesses With Attitude (Trina Robbins)

Hope these suggestions help you out, Jess, though I suspect they aren’t the conventional feminist reading list owing to my aversion to most things highbrow. Oh well. Happy reading…

I know you wanted fiction, not non fiction, suggestions, but its kind of how it all came together in my head – go figure…

Sesi // Posted 4 August 2008 at 3:11 pm

Seems like just about all the possibilities have been used up.

If you’re getting tired of the more complex novels and feel like giving your mind a rest, definitely Tamora Pierce.

It is a bit more of a teen novel but both of my parents really enjoyed it.

If you’re looking for comics, she’s just finished White Tiger with her husband. It’s not fantastic but its worth a read.

llhaesa // Posted 14 August 2008 at 4:10 am

I’ve been writing a blog-novel that has a definite feminist theme. If converted to book pages, I’m around 160 or so as of now.

OK, I am not going to promise something untrue – namely that this is fantastic writing, because it isn’t – is just me authoring this after all… but it is rather fun to write.

I’d like to encourage all here to consider writing in this manner, it is loads of fun, and as time goes on, story lines come at you from every direction.

Anyway… http://llhaesa.org/


Virginia // Posted 12 September 2008 at 9:01 am

I’ve just been back over the list to steal ideas – did no one mention The Bluest Eye before? It’s one of my favourites, I really enjoy fiction that discusses serious issues through children’s perspectives, in this case race vs the white beauty standard, different concepts of family and domestic violence.

Cara // Posted 12 September 2008 at 5:02 pm

OK…I was really disappointed with How To Live Alone and Like It.

For one it tells women under 30 to stay virgins, yes, seriously…obv. a woman under 30 and single is just waiting for Mr Right (bleurgh) and has to “save herself” for him (again, bleurgh).

(And once you get to 30 there is no hope so you may as well give up and sleep around.)

The tone was not really positive about women living alone at all, more “if you MUST live alone, you poor sad creature, make the best of it”.

And lots of advice about wearing make-up and fancy lingerie, even for a night in by yourself…no thanks.

I am currently reading a novel by Debby Holt called The Trouble With Marriage, which I picked up as light reading and it is, but it certainly has a lot of feminist principles covered in a lighthearted way (e.g. one of the characters notes that “only women have to be good-looking to be considered sexy” – spot on!). And the plot involves DV which is dealt with pretty well. I really don’t know what I would do if I discovered one of my friends was being beaten by her partner – it’s hard because much as you might want to call the police immediately and tell her to leave the sick bastard like NOW, it’s not that simple in reality.

Cara // Posted 12 September 2008 at 5:50 pm

Also – I love Marian Keyes’ work. She is a hero of mine :-) again, she works feminist themes into relatively easy reading.

Although as she has said herself, critics dismiss her work as “fluffy chick-lit”. I hate the way anything female is seen as a “women’s issue”, “frivolous”, “light”, “fluffy” etc. – her books cover such serious themes as abortion, divorce, bereavement, drug addiction, DV and life-threatening cancer ffs. Yet because they are seen as “chick lit” they are dismissed.

Oh and her women characters actually talk about things other than men! I love the way she portrays strong female friendships.

Note that men’s light reading by the likes of Tom Clancy et al. are never dismissed as frivolous and empty-headed.

Politicalguineapig // Posted 12 September 2008 at 6:07 pm

Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett- most of his other books also have very strong female characters.

Lois McMaster Bujold- Cordelia’s Honor and Ethan of Athos- really all of her books are worth reading, and I can’t believe that no one here has mentioned Diana Wynne Jones.

David Cameron (Pen Name: RLMSJim) // Posted 27 January 2009 at 6:23 pm

Probably like many people, I was totally grossed out by the savage murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman in 1994. Soon after, I wrote a short fictional story to express my absolute disgust with things like wife abuse, honor killing, etc. The story is called “Legacy of Shame.” It describes fictional events in the lives of OJ Simpson and his children following the murder of Nicole Brown. I do think the story might of interest to those interested in feminist fiction. The story can be viewed at


chlojoes // Posted 25 October 2009 at 4:41 pm

These suggestions all sound great!

I wonder if anyone has ideas for feminist fiction that contains some sort of link to the suffrage movement? I need examples for a course I’m doing, and am drawing a blank!


Elmo // Posted 25 October 2009 at 9:58 pm

i would def recommend terry pratchett-his books are excellent, very pro-feminist, and all the characters are wonderfully well rounded-he also explores a lot of female sterotypes-all very funny stuff, and, as Politicalguineapig said, Monstrous Regiment is an entire book dedicated exploring womens roles in society. But my favourite are “the witches series”-which focus on a discworld coven-very funny, very well written, and, i feel, a real understanding of women!

saranga // Posted 26 October 2009 at 10:16 am

chlojoes: Try Nightwatch by Sarah Waters.

gadgetgal // Posted 26 October 2009 at 12:07 pm

Hi – I thought I’d add a few things I like reading here. First of all anything by Daphne DuMaurier is something I noticed isn’t on here yet.

I thought I’d add more contemporary and light reads since most of the ones covered here are more literature:

The Year of Wonders (Geraldine Brooks) – about a town which contracts the plague and closes itself off to the outside world

The Carhullan Army (Sarah Hall) – dystopian novel reminiscent of The Handmaiden’s Tale

The Emperor’s Babe (Bernadine Evaristo) – brilliant, one of the best pieces of contemporary fiction I’ve read

The Red Tent (Anita Diamont) – Biblical topic but written from the women’s perspectives

Boudicca (Manda Scott) – actually a series of books fictionalising the life and times of Boudicca

And I’d also recommend (for even lighter reads) to try the fantasy authors Kelley Armstrong and Trudi Canavan – Armstrong creates very strong female leads in her books and Canavan is also unafraid to add non-straight character plot lines to her stories (unusual in light fiction!).

gadgetgal // Posted 27 October 2009 at 10:27 am

Hi – just another book I thought of – although this one’s for kids it’s a must-have for a feminist bookshelf, and especially people with children or young relatives:

“The Practical Princess and Other Liberating Fairy Tales” by Jay Williams & Rick Schreiter

I used it at college for an essay I did on modern fairy tales versus traditional ones – looks like it’s mostly out-of-print now but you can get hold of copies second-hand. The stories are written so kids will enjoy them but not realise that the roles have changed – they’re just good stories!

Jeanette // Posted 8 November 2010 at 4:23 pm

The three books that come to mind are all written by European men (make what you will of that) and contain the strongest female characters I have come across so far:

1. Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg

2. The Queen of the South by Arturo Perez-Reverte

3. The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Jordan // Posted 4 May 2011 at 2:23 pm

I read a couple people question the feminism in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake. I’ll agree that it isn’t obvious, but it is certainly there. Theories proposed by Sandra Harding’s Science Question in Feminism and Val Plumwood’s Feminism and the Mastery of Nature are illustrated beautifully by Atwood. Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto is also well illustrated.

Plumwood deals with the dualisms of nature/culture and woman/man. Harding critiques science from a feminist lens, offering insight to the structures of society and the abuses of science against “others”. Haraway discusses the whole integration of the parts of woman: animal, human, machine. It’s sort of like extreme intersectionalism with a spin towards technology.

All of this is represented in Oryx and Crake. I think it’s worth your while, and if you’re looking for any theory or feminist non-fiction, the readings above are excellent.

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