Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Novel or Memoir by a Woman in an International Context?

Next semester, I'm teaching Intro to Gender Studies, and I'd love to find a novel or memoir written by a woman from outside the United States that I can teach for the section on Gender in International Contexts. I'd like something relatively contemporary, and if it's non-western, even better.

I'm not going with I, Rigoberta Menchu because there's too much controversy surrounding the book that I don't want to get into in this course for the time we have available. Last time, I taught In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. I love the book, and it went over well, but I'd really like to teach something not written by someone form the United States, and I'd like to expose them to a place outside the Caribbean, so that cuts out Edwidge Danticat and Jamaica Kincaid, too (though I might still go with one of them). Malika Oufkir's Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail? Sara Suleri's Meatless Days? Slavenka Drakulic's The Balkan Express? Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters (though still by an American, but I do love that book)? Reading Lolita in Tehran still feels too much like a western book. Do I want to go with Persepolis? Ken Bugel's The Abandoned Baobab?

Why in the wold is The Abandonded Baobab listed on Amazon's bestselling literary books about Latin America? Are Senegal and Brussels in Latin America?

Just typing this out is making me think of pairing Perseoplis and The Abandoned Baobab, but I could be convinced otherwise. Oh, and I've got to teach bell hooks' "Eating the Other," too.

These are all ideas that hit me right away, but none are really sticking right now. Anyone have any new ideas? Anyone want to argue for anything I've already mentioned?


  1. Three suggestions from South Africa: Call Me Woman by Ellen Kuswayo; Of Wild Dogs by Jane Taylor; Blood Kin by Ceridwen Dovey.

  2. I was going to say Persepolis as a good choice. You might also look at Meena Alexander's memoir *Fault Lines*