Reading List: Selected Contemporary American Women Writers

I stated in Plans for my reading in 2011 that I wanted to read a selected number of American writers, especially women writers. I tend to focus a lot more on African-American and other writers of color when I read American fiction. Frankly, I’ve overlooked contemporary white and Jewish American authors and I want to remedy the oversight. I think I’ve compiled a good list of authors. I used one of Elaine Showalter’s articles in The Guardian as a guide. The list includes a couple of writers of experimental fiction. It excludes several authors, like Barbara Kingsolver, that I have previously read.

Here is the list:

  1. Cynthia Ozick: The Puttermesser Papers
  2. Marilynne Robinson:  Housekeeping
  3. Francine Prose: Blue Angel
  4. Joyce Carol Oates: them
  5. Anne Tyler:  Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
  6. Andrea Barrett: Voyage of the Narwhal
  7. Jane Smiley:  Ordinary Love and Good Will
  8. Bobbie Ann Mason:  Shiloh and Other Stories
  9. Renata Adler:  Speedboat or Pitch Dark
  10. Annie Dillard:  The Living
  11. Jayne Anne Philips: Lark and Termite
  12. Rebecca Goldstein: The Late-Summer Passion
  13. Lydia Davis:  The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
  14. Jennifer Egan:  A Visit from the Goon Squad
  15. Amy Hempel: The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
  16. Kathryn Davis:  The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf
  17. Claire Messud:  Emperor’s Children
  18. Rikki Ducornet:  Phosphor in Dreamland or The Jade Cabinet
  19. Carole Maso:  AVA
  20. Gina Ranalli:  Suicide Girls in the Afterlife
  21. Deborah Eisenberg:  The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg
  22. Roxana Robinson:  Cost
  23. Alice Hoffman:  Blue Diary
  24. Lorrie Moore:  Self-Help
  25. Selah Saterstrom:  The Meat and Spirit Plan

I’m willing to add another five writers. So suggestions are more than welcome.

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.  I’ve amended the list.  It’s now complete :).

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31 comments

  1. I’m not sure if you are considering non-fiction – but Sarah Vowell’s books, particularly Assassination Vacation, are excellent.

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  2. You should check out the Blue Dairy by Alice Hoffman, Kinna. It’s a compelling mystery and emotional roller coaster that kept me gripped from the start. What’s more it bewitchingly written – beautiful, poetic prose captures complex emotions. I can’t recomment the book enough. Happy reading, girl!

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  3. Hi Kinna,
    Wow, what a fantastic list! I especially like that you’ve included some of the most wonderful experimental fiction writers working in the US. Further suggestions: have you thought of Deborah Eisenberg’s short stories? I’ve recently discovered Selah Saterstrom, whose Southern fiction is powerfully moving. Aimee Bender and Rachel Glaser are two interesting younger women writers.
    I enjoy reading your review and look forward to the above!
    Take care,
    Susannah

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    • Thanks for the visit and for the comment. I’ve decided to read a lot more experimental fiction this year. I will look into the authors and books that you suggested.

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  4. I’m reading A Visit From the Good Squad right now and it is quite good! I haven’t read anything else on your list but I’ve heard of most of them; looks like great choices.

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  5. I swear I already left you this comment, but I’ll leave it again just in case! 😉

    I LOVE Hempel; I’ve read two of her ss collections and actually have her Collected Stories lying around here somewhere. I’ve only read a few on your list (I tend to only read modern white American genre stuff), and I’m not sure what you consider contemporary, but have you thought of Eudora Welty, Carson McCuller, or Shirley Jackson? They all sprang to mind for me! I’ll be looking forward to your reviews, since I should probably get better acquainted with these authors myself.

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    • Well, quite the endorsement of Hempel. I’m not quite sure what I meant by contemporary 🙂 but I’ve read Welty and Jackson. I wanted to read those after Welty. The list is a bit quriky for sure. Thanks for your commentary and suggestions.

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  6. It’s funny that although I do a lot of reading, I have never read any of these authors. Your list is pretty impressive. It will be nice to know your thoughts when you are completed with the novels. Good Luck:)

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