The New Year is here! The bookworms amongst you have already checked off their Goodreads challenge, and updated it, or maybe you’ve gotten a nice new addition to your TBR pile for Christmas. Maybe your New Year Resolution is to read more! Last year a friend of mine resolved to read only books written by women for the whole year – and it was a male friend at that – because he wanted to broaden his perspectives, as he felt too many popularized books were written by other men. He didn’t end up entirely sticking to it, but he did end up reading a lot of lady authors. So, for anyone looking to do the same experiment, or looking for cool female voices to add to their library, here is a list of 17 female writers to look at in 2017.
If you have access to the internet, then you definitely heard of Beyoncé’s incredible visual album Lemonade. The transitions between each stunning song are poems from Warsan Shire, who is also the Young Poetry Laureate of London. Her poetry is very moving and contemporary, and you can find a lot of it online. Definitely read some if you’re gearing up for a day where you need to be your toughest self.
This is another author you might have heard of alongside Beyoncé – part of her “We Should All be Feminists” speech is incorporated in the song Flawless. You can find her giving incredible TED Talks about feminism and inclusivity, storytelling, and empowering women. Her novel Americanah has won quite a few awards, and her nonfiction is affirming and inspiring. She is distinguished as a unique voice in contemporary African literature.
If you like the classics in the opulent prose style of Oscar Wilde, you’re definitely going to enjoy Donna Tartt’s novels. There’s three of them, and they each took about ten years to write – and it shows. If you’ve ever in the mood for some highly accomplished prose that will make you question the shackles of modern ethics, sit down with The Secret History – it’s both contemporary and universal in sound. The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer for fiction in 2014 – it’s a little longer, and the plot is more convoluted, but sometimes you just need to read about beautiful people put in odd, yet aesthetically pleasing situations, and that’s what Donna Tartt gives.
While her work gets boxed into the YA genre category, a lot of Maggie’s works are very universal in the nature of the issues they explore. Her writing style is at the intersection of beautiful and pleasantly quirky, and her characters are relatable and easy to identify with and enjoy. Her Raven Cycle tetralogy is a great starting point – especially if you want to read about some loyal friends on a magic quest.
Another incredible poet with a loud and significant voice, her work will make you laugh or cry or both. She has two poetry collections out – Racing Hummingbirds and Said the Manic to the Muse, but to really feel her, you could always watch her performances on youtube – they are breathtaking and energizing at once.
If you’re at all on social media, you might have seen pretty Instagram edits with short but poignant quotes, with a dash credit to “milk and honey”, which is Kaur’s debut collection. Her words are delicate, and gently stay with you after you’ve closed the book.
Do you like fairytales? How about fairytales that go a little wrong sometimes? The Fairyland series is thrilling, and unique, and all about fairytales with teeth. Her Leningrad Diptych (currently, only one part of is out), on the other hand is a beautiful rendition of classic Russian folklore, that will leave you chilled to the bones, and wanting more.
Often times people say that each villain is the hero in his own story. In her Young Elites series, Marie Lu delivers just that. You’re going to be well and truly invested into the story by the time you realize who you’re meant to be rooting for. And the narrator won’t realize at all. Lu’s style is the best combination of high fantasy and a fresh, fast-paced plot.
Yuknavitch is an incredible writer with the kind of fresh, memorable voice you aren’t likely to forget. She comes from a difficult background, and she writes on difficult topics. Her latest work – The Small Backs of Children – is an exploration of self-righteousness, and difficult choices. Her memoir –The Chronology of Water – is frank, and beautiful. This is a woman, whose work will give you something to think about, and you will thank her for it.
Another writer who delves into difficult topics, and isn’t afraid to address the ugly parts of real life, Yanagihara’s novel A Little Life is both beautiful and heart-wrenching. Her debut novel, The People in the Trees is also a piece of literature to marvel at. There is something incredibly powerful in the tragic stories, written in a beautiful and captivating language that will definitely leave you feeling some type of way when you’re done.
C. S. Pacat
There is little chance you haven’t heard of Pacat’s amazing Captive Prince trilogy, which addresses a lot of issues, and is considered too racy by some people. Recently on her twitter, she talked about the way she strives to address Australian concepts of ethnicity through her characters, and describe certain experiences. Her beautiful prose and tasteful handling of risqué topics create a captivating read, that you’re sure to enjoy.
Her first and so far only book The Song of Achilles took ten years to write. Every word is exactly where it should be. Every syllable is measured out. If you know how the myth of Achilles ends, you know the end of this story. Even so, with just the first page, you’re going to want to read it. And again, and again. This is the perfect read for when you are really just feeling a little nostalgic and want to feel a lot nostalgic.
Han Kang is an incredibly prolific South Korean writer, whose works reflect a deeply reflective worldview. Few of her novels are available in English, most notably perhaps, The Vegetarian – a deep psychological study of a woman who decides to stop eating meat.
Kelly Link writes amazing short stories – so amazing, they’ve been shortlisted for a Pulitzer. They will pull you in, and give you just enough, that you will want more, but know the piece is perfect just as it is. It’s ideal for whenever you’d like to read something, but know you don’t have the time to be starting a new novel.
At this point, it’s very probable you’ve heard about her – the movie Gone Girl, based on her novel of the same name became an iconic instant classic, and then Dark Places did quite well too. Her works are complex and dark, and focus on multi-layered flawed female characters that you aren’t always meant to admire or agree with, but you can definitely understand.
An independent writer, who became known mostly through tumblr, Meisel’s debut work Sunblind is a retelling of the myth of Icarus. It’s the ideal combination of current anxieties and classic Greek tragedy. Meisel’s captivating poetry can be found on tumblr to enjoy whenever you need to feel a little.
Roy has written only one fiction book – The God of Small Things, which is both beautiful and heartbreaking at its core. Her nonfiction, and essays are equally touching and offer a lot to think about. It’s worth looking at them for a perspective that while different, is also very sober and aware.
Rounding off the list is another poet. Willis has been shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize, and her work is incredibly melodic, with a delicate musicality to it that will definitely touch you. And – should you be interested in that – she also writes criticism and essays that will definitely appeal to poetry lovers in particular.
Hopefully, at least some of the names on this list will appeal to you, and you’ll look into their work in the coming year!