In the media is a weekly round-up of features written by, about or containing female writers that have appeared during the previous week and I think are insightful, interesting and/or thought-provoking. Linking to them is not necessarily a sign that I agree with everything that’s said but it’s definitely an indication that they’ve made me think. Also, just a note to make it clear that I’m using the term ‘media’ to include social media, so links to blog posts as well as traditional media are likely.
In a change to usual proceedings, I’m beginning with non-fiction writers this week as there’s been so much non-fiction talk in the news with the National Books Awards non-fiction longlist and Lena Dunham’s book on the way, in particular.
Alison Bechdel was awarded a MacAuthur “genius grant” this week. Here’s a piece she wrote on her blog last year about The Test which bears her name and how she feels about it. While Elizabeth McCracken wrote this week’s My Hero piece in The Guardian about Bechdel.
Fellow graphic novelist Roz Chast was also in the news for being the only woman to make the non-fiction longlist of the National Book Awards. (More on that in the lists at the bottom.) This piece in Slate looks at why critics don’t take cartoonists seriously.
Caitlin Moran, whose photograph some people can’t take seriously, wrote in her Times column this week about the letters/comments she has from people about the faces she pulls in photographs and why she does it. ‘My face, my rules‘. (Unfortunately UK Times articles are subscriber only.)
Lena Dunham’s book Not that Kind of Girl published a week on Tuesday led Hadley Freeman to question how feminist is writing a memoir? An extract from Dunham’s book ran in The Guardian. The Times ran an interview while Meghan Daum wrote a profile in the New York Times.
Sheila Heti also has a new book out. Heti has collaborated with Leanne Shapton and Heidi Julavits for Women in Clothes. Heti talks about the book in this Los Angeles Review of Books interview, while Julavits and Shapton are in the Observer.
In the fiction world, who else to begin with this week than Hilary Mantel who’s been causing controversy with an interview she gave to Damien Barr for the Daily Telegraph which they refused to run along with the title story from her latest collection ‘The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher’. The Guardian picked up both the interview and the story.
Also still causing a ruckus, is reclusive novelist Elena Ferrante. An essay written by her about Madame Bovary and the reoccurring themes in her work ran on the English Pen website, while Rohan Maitzen examined the critical response to Ferrante and Jonathan Gibbs articulated his thoughts on his blog and discussed the UK covers of Ferrante’s novels.
No stranger to controversy in her day either, Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘American Fiction’ was discussed in The New Yorker while Maggie Gee was ‘In the footsteps of Virginia Woolf‘ in The Guardian writing about bringing Woolf back to life for her latest novel.
Fiction faired better than non-fiction in awards this week with an all-female shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award. Zadie Smith’s story ‘Miss Adele Amongst the Corsets‘ in The Paris Review, Tessa Hadley’s ‘Bad Dreams‘ and Lionel Shriver’s ‘Kilifi Creek‘ in The New Yorker.
Other good articles this week were:
- Two Emily St. John Mantel pieces which I missed when they were originally published: on writers and their day jobs for The Millions and on Isabel Costello’s Literary Sofa talking about Setting a Novel in the Future.
- Rene Denfeld’s very powerful piece in The New Yorker blogs about the man she called her dad.
- Margaret Drabble in Northern Soul
- Karen Campbell on Rebecca Mascull’s blog
- Sarah Perry on For Books’ Sake
- M.J. Hyland on the Tin House blog
- Sophie Hannah in The Guardian about being a crime writer and writing a new Poirot novel
While in translation news (besides Ferrante, of course!), Marian Schwartz talked about translating Russian Literature and Two Lines Press published an extract from Bae Suah’s novel The Low Hills of Seoul translated by Deborah Smith.
And this week’s lists:
- Margaret Eby on Books by Women that Should be on the National Book Awards’ List and this Facebook page which was set up so people could add the books they think should have been on the NBA non-fiction list.
- 10 reasons to love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on For Books’ Sake
- Jessie Burton on 33 Things I’ve Observed So Far as The Miniaturist became a best seller (late to this one but it’s good)
- 11 New and Recent Books for the Feminist Reader on Elle magazine’s site
- Top 10 stories of mothers and daughters selected by Meike Ziervogal in The Guardian
Finally, I’m going to leave you with the three pieces I’ve loved the most this week:
- Alice Bolin on ‘hoarding verbal matter‘ (with beautiful photographs of Yayoi Kusama’s work)
- Jess Richards on love and desperately seeking a variety of things
- Shelley Harris’ video for her forthcoming novel Vigilante. (I am having that wig!)