Giveaway now closed.
Happy International Women’s Day. Hurrah for all the brilliant women out there, yes, that includes you. To help celebrate the day, I’ve gone against convention and invited a man on the blog. I know, it’s outrageous. What happened was this: Will Rycroft, the brilliant Community Manager at Vintage Books, who some of you will know from the Vintage Vlog, suggested we do a vlog for International Women’s Day. So we did and you can watch it here. On it, I recommend to Will five fantastic books by women writers from marginalised backgrounds. In return, I asked Will for a recommendation or two as well…
Before we even start, this post isn’t ‘Will mansplains graphic novels’! When I was chatting with Naomi about International Women’s Day she pointed out that in her reading of female authors she had a small blind spot: graphic novels and this got me excited. I love graphic novels and if there’s one thing worth celebrating in the world of graphic novels it’s the fact that female writers are producing some of the most fantastic work and that the UK in particular has several female artists worth getting very excited about. Choosing just five books to put before you today was tough, there are so many that I’d like to mention, but I hope this selection gives a nice variety of tone and style and will introduce you to authors you may not have read before. It goes without saying (although here I am saying it) that Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel classic that would fit the bill here but after Emma Watson chose it for Our Shared Shelf, her feminist book club, I figured it’s one you may have read already. But if you haven’t, then you must, it’s brilliant.
Sally Heathcote: Suffragette
Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth
Bryan Talbot is the godfather of the British graphic novel scene and, working together with his wife, Mary, has been producing graphic biographies or histories to tell the stories of lesser-known figures. Sally Heathcote may be fictional but she meets plenty of the real figures from the Suffragette movement in this book which puts you right in the entre of women’s fight for equality. You can hear the authors talking about the book in this edition of the Vintage Podcast.
You may recognise the name Bechdel from the Bechdel Test, which a movie only passes if it features two female characters having a conversation about something other than a man – as featured in her comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For below.
Given that, it may seem strange to highlight this graphic memoir about her father but Fun Home is a brilliant exploration of family dynamics, homosexuality and the literature that makes us. For anyone struggling to tell their family or others about their own sexuality this is a must read. And if you love it then there’s her follow-up, Are You My Mother?, to enjoy afterwards, telling the other side of the family story.
The One Hundred Nights of Hero
There is nothing not to like about this wonderful feminist fairy tale. Beautifully illustrated and featuring the story of two women united in their love for each other, for storytelling, and their resilience against the plotting of dastardly men, it’s a joy from first page to last. Absolutely perfect for YA readers too; it takes its inspiration from Scheherazade and the storytelling of 1001 Nights to weave a patchwork that involves love in many forms but perhaps most strongly that of female friendship.
Rutu Modan (trans. Jessica Cohen)
Some people don’t like the term graphic novel, it sounds a bit pretentious, but sometimes a graphic work contains exactly the kind of complexity that you would expect to find in a traditional novel. This book does exactly that whilst also retaining a simplicity of style that makes it easy to enjoy. A woman travels to Warsaw with her grandmother to reclaim a property lost during WWII. There’s humour to be had with officious bureaucracy and meddlesome relatives but there is also a touching secret from the past, as well as a burgeoning relationship for our young narrator. To bring such a light touch to important themes and history marks Modan out as a uniquely skilful artist and writer.
Notes on a Thesis
Tiphaine Rivière (trans, Francesca Barrie)
If you have ever struggled to hand in an assignment, dissertation or even just your tax return on time then you are going to cringe in recognition when reading this hilarious and painful tale of one woman aiming for a PhD. Beginning with enthusiasm but slowly bending under the weight, the labour and the obstacles of modern academia, we follow our heroine as she desperately tries to complete her work on Kafka. Almost everyone will recognise their own struggles here and it’s the kind of book that may make you laugh and cry in equal measure.
All five of these books feature in this article, which also highlights five more classic feminist texts.
A huge thanks to Will for introducing me – and maybe you too – to these five graphic novels. I’ve been reading my way through them and they’re absolutely wonderful. Although, Notes on A Thesis is so accurate, I had to have a lie down in a darkened room after reading it.
But that’s not all…Vintage have kindly given me a copy of each of these five graphic novels to give away. To win, all you have to do is leave a comment below saying which graphic novel you’d like to win and why. You can enter for more than one book if you wish. The giveaway is U.K. only (sorry) and will close at 5pm U.K. time on Sunday 12th March. Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email.
I allocated everyone a number, in order of posting, for each book they asked to be considered for and put them through a random number generator, which came up with the following winners:
Sally Heathcote: Suffragette – Anarmchairbythesea
Fun House – yatiekates
The One Hundred Nights of Hero – snoakes7001
The Property – Rebecca Foster
Notes on a Thesis – Joseph
Congratulations to all the winners; check your email for what to do next. Thank you to everyone who entered, I hope you discovered something new and wonderful to read regardless.
Thanks to Will and Vintage Books for the guest post and the giveaway.