4 Books to Celebrate International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 of every year, and serves as a reminder of the legacy and achievements of those we admire. This year, we commemorate this celebration of womanhood by rounding up four of our favourite books written by women.
Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette
Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette never knew her mother’s mother. Curious to understand why her grandmother, Suzanne, a sometime painter and poet associated with Les Automatistes, a movement of dissident artists that included Paul-Émile Borduas, abandoned her husband and young family, Barbeau-Lavalette hired a private detective to piece together Suzanne’s life.
Suzanne, winner of the Prix des libraires du Québec and a bestseller in French, is a fictionalized account of Suzanne’s life over eighty-five years, from Montreal to New York to Brussels, from lover to lover, through an abortion, alcoholism, Buddhism, and an asylum. It takes readers through the Great Depression, Québec’s Quiet Revolution, women’s liberation, and the American civil rights movement, offering a portrait of a volatile, fascinating woman on the margins of history. And it’s a granddaughter’s search for a past for herself, for understanding and forgiveness.
About the author: Born in 1979, and named an Artist for Peace in 2012, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette has directed several award-winning documentary features. She also directed two fiction features: Le Ring (2008), Inch’Allah (2012, which received the FIPRESCI Prize in Berlin). She is the author of the travelogue Embrasser Yasser Arafat (2011) and the novels Je voudrais qu’on m’efface (2010) and La femme qui fuit (Prix des libraires du Quebec, Prix France-Quebec, Prix de la ville de Montreal), garnering both critical and popular success.
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo
Kim Jiyoung is the most common name for Korean women born in the 1980s.
Kim Jiyoung is representative of her generation:
At home, she is an unfavoured sister to her princeling little brother.
In primary school, she is a girl who has to line up behind the boys at lunchtime.
In high school, she is a daughter whose father blames her for being harassed late at night.
In university, she is a good student who doesn’t get put forward for internships by her professor.
In the office, she is an exemplary employee who is overlooked for promotion by her manager.
At home, she is a wife who has given up her career to take care of her husband and her baby.
Kim Jiyoung is depressed.
Kim Jiyoung has started to act out.
Kim Jiyoung is her own woman.
Kim Jiyoung is insane.
Kim Jiyoung’s husband sends her to see a psychiatrist.
This is his clinical assessment of the everywoman in contemporary Korea.
About the author: Cho Nam-Joo was born in 1978 in Seoul, South Korea. She graduated from the Department of Sociology of Ehwa Women’s University. She is a former television screenwriter and the author of two previous books, When You Carefully Hear (2011), winner of the Munhakdongne Novel Award, and For Comaneci (2016), winner of the Hwangsanbeol Award for Young Adult Literature.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In this personal, eloquently-argued essay — adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.
About the author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, Financial Times, and Zoetrope: All-Story. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; Half of a Yellow Sun, which was the recipient of the Women’s Prize for Fiction “Winner of Winners” award; Americanah, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award; the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck; and the essays We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, both national bestsellers. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trails of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming—both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.