My plan in January 2018 was to read mainly books by women – to make up for all the years of reading the male cannon. However I made an exception for books by male writers:
1. in translation,
2. of colour and
3. for research. (I also allowed myself to read two by Julian Barnes just because…)
And I’m pleased to say it’s been a great year. Of the 72 books I’ve read, 60 have been by women and at no point have I felt I’m missing out in any way. I’ve read some brilliant, nuanced and imaginative work – fiction, poetry and non-fiction.
Here are a few of my favourites (all published 2018 unless indicated otherwise).
Obama becomes president, & two ordinary black, middle class, London families with small children start falling apart.
Evocative and moving portrait of the friendship between the painter, Velasquez and Philip IV of Spain.
Superbly brilliant short stories. Quintessentially English. (Published in 2017).
Dark, surreal short stories about being black in contemporary USA.
Joyful, funny story about Barry, his marriage and his gay lover (published in 2013).
Gripping novella. Tensions rise at an iron-age re-enactment weekend.
Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains a young woman is attracted to a stranger with a mysterious past.
Dystopian, dark tale of three sisters living on a largely deserted island – feminism, love and male control.
Helen Dunmore’s posthumously published collection of beautiful, moving poems – a meditation on death and dying. Costa book of the year 2017.
My dear friend Fiona’s first collection of poems – shortlisted for the TS Eliot poetry prize 2018… Politics, life & death, & behind the iron curtain.
And two to look out for in 2019:
The Dreamers is a quietly devastating page turner: a small Californian town is under threat when a mysterious virus starts spreading from the local college; people fall asleep and can’t be woken.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton – a murder-mystery but also a literary page-turner about a young, mixed race girl in the early 19th century about to be hanged for murder.
In 2019 I’m going to read more books in translation and books by women writers from Africa as well as some neglected classics.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FOR 2019. MAY YOU READ SOME AMAZING BOOKS!