Feministing Reads: What We’re Reading

Every month, Alexandra faithfully rounds up what the Feministing crew — as well as our extended fam, our readers — are reading. It’s always my go-to source for books recs, so it’s been a particular delight compiling this July’s edition while Alexandra’s off for the summer. Check ‘em out below.

Sam: I’ve just finished Simone Schwarz-Bart’s 1972 novel The Bridge of Beyond, recently reissued by NYRB Classics, and it’s 246 pages of unrelenting magic. The book follows five generations of Guadeloupean women across the hundred years or so after slavery’s abolition, and Schwarz-Bart’s prose is a marvel. In her introduction to this edition, Jamaica Kincaid writes, “It makes me anxious for my own sanity and yet at the same time certain of it.”

Chanelle: I’m reading poetry and fiction because this world is too much — the newish i be, but i aint by Aziza Barnes and the oldish novel The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead — and then also snippets from Conversations With James Baldwin

Reina: I had some extra cash so I went *Popular Contemporary Works of Feminism Book Shopping.* I am almost done with Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick. It is waaay too Art World and Theoretical but I can see where it was important in furthering the feminist confessional genre, and we all know I have confessed some things and used “dick” in my titles, so credit where due I suppose. I’m also about to start Shrill and Bad Feminist. I know, I’m behind the curve but ON A ROLL.

Dana: I feel you, Reina: I finally — finally! — read books two through four of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, while on vacation the past couple weeks. We’ve already gushed about them plenty here, so I’ll just say: if you haven’t read them yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR. Now I’m alternating between Terry Eagleton’s Hope without Optimism and Eve Sedgwick’s Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity, as I wait for my copy of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life to arrive.

Senti: I’m reading a gift from my dad, Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, which chronicles the story of a young woman in 1903 who sailed from India to Guiana as a “coolie,” or indentured laborer sent to work on a sugar plantation. Many years later, the author, this woman’s great granddaughter, embarks on a journey to uncover her story and learn what became of her and other women like her. It’s a really fascinating and well researched uncovering into a little known part of history — highly recommended!

Ava: The best book I’ve read this summer is Amie Barrodale’s debut story collection, You Are Having A Good TimeThe stories are deadpan, strange, and funny, full of desperate characters with ugly, familiar longings. I’m currently reading Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers — which so far is, as advertised, about land art and Italian motorcycles.

Jacqui: I’m in the middle of reading The Farming of Bones, a work of historical fiction written by Haitian-born writer Edwidge Danticat. The novel is based on the 1937 government-sponsored genocide in the Dominican Republic that resulted in thousands of murdered Afro-Haitians at the hands of the Dominican president, Rafael Trujillo. That said, the book’s narrative is told through the memories and perspective of an Afro-Haitian housemaid named Amabelle Desir, who’s attempting to create a life for herself and her Haitian lover in the midst of deadly political unrest in the Dominican Republic. I’m not even halfway through the book yet, but I’ve read historical fiction before and generally speaking, they’re pretty powerful texts. It makes me think even more about how effective of a tool storytelling can be to resisting and undermining hegemony.

Alexandra M.: I’m currently reading All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. It’s fantastic and I can’t get enough of it. The book is on the surface ostensibly about two quirky ex-Mennonite sisters living in Canada and their mental illnesses, but ends up being about so much more. I’ve been on a quest this year to only read female authors and this book has been one of the best I’ve encountered.

Mahroh: I’m reading Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracya collection of essays written by Arundhati Roy. The essays are written in response to key moments of state violence (pogroms, corporate landgrabs, responses to terrorist attacks, and protests) in recent Indian history, and touch upon themes (how ‘progress’ and genocide often go hand in hand, neoliberalism, imperialism, Islamophobia) that are so relevant for those of us here in another country that grossly prides itself on being a “democracy.” Throughout the book, she’s asking a question I think many of us have been forced to grapple with in 2016: “What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning?”

Header image credit- me.

New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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