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Five Books to Read This International Women’s Day, by the Feminist Bookshop

As International Women’s Day approaches, we asked the brilliant Feminist Bookshop to recommend their latest favourite novels from writers based around the world. 

The Bread the Devil Knead – Lisa Allen-Agostini

What’s it about?

The Bread the Devil Knead follows the fashionable, feisty and fiercely independent Alethea Lopez. While outwardly successful, behind closed doors she’s suffering domestic violence and attempting to bury the deeply traumatic experiences of her childhood. However, a series of events begins to unfold that cause Alethea to confront her situation and explore the possibilities for her future.

What did we think?

We were completely drawn into Alethea’s world. The depiction of life in Port of Spain is visceral, and much of the dialogue is written in local dialect which absolutely brings it to life. We also loved that although it is harrowing in places and addresses some very difficult topics, Lisa’s strategically placed comedic moments bring levity to the story and we were ultimately left feeling uplifted and hopeful.

Get it here

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead – Olga Tokarczuk

What’s it about?

Drive Your Plow is a darkly comic and gripping tale of a series of murders that blight the community in a remote Polish village. We witness the events through the eyes of Janina Duszejko, an eccentric woman in her 60s, who rather prefers the company of animals to humans and believes that the key to the mystery lies in the village’s cruel treatment of the wildlife surrounding it.

What did we think?

We thought that the story provided a truly tender insight into the life and thoughts of a person that was dismissed by so many in her community, along with a thrilling tale and a fascinating exploration of what constitutes justice in our society.

Get it here

Our Lady of the Nile – Scholastique Mukasonga

What’s it about?

Our Lady of the Nile is the award-winning debut novel by the leading French-Rwandan writer Scholastique Mukasonga. The novel immerses us in the world of a prestigious school for girls, set in the Rwandan hills and run by white nuns. Set in the early 1980s, the school operates against a backdrop of mounting ethnic tensions across Rwanda which are borne out in relations among the students. As the story unfolds, we witness how quickly these tensions escalate as the pupils emulate the actions of their parents.

What did we think?

Although it explores some difficult subjects we found Our Lady of the Nile to be an enchanting novel; interweaving tragic incidences of prejudice and discrimination with playful reflections on the inner working of a girls’ boarding school.

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Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata

What’s it about?

Convenience Store Woman draws on the author’s experiences working part time for many years as a convenience store clerk in Tokyo. The story is based around thirty-six-year-old Keiko Furukura who has been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years. Under pressure from her family and friends to get married and get a “proper job”, she struggles to communicate how much her work in the convenience store really means to her. 

What did we think?

We thoroughly enjoyed this short novel, finding Keiko’s narrative hilarious and at times incredibly touching. For us it was a brilliant story about finding yourself and what brings you joy regardless of anyone else’s expectations.

Get it here

What You Can See From Here – Mariana Leky

What’s it about?

On a beautiful spring day, a small village in Western Germany wakes up to an omen: Selma has dreamed of an okapi. Someone is about to die. Luise, Selma’s ten-year-old granddaughter, looks on as the predictable characters of her small world begin acting strangely. Each of the villagers grapples with the buried secrets and deferred decisions that have suddenly become urgent in the face of death.

What did we think?

We had no idea what to expect when we started What You Can See From Here, but as it evolved we found Mariana Leky’s novel to be charming, bizarre, moving and uplifting in almost equal measure. At a time when our local community has become especially important to us, the story was a moving reflection on the impact of our relationships with the people around us.

Get it here

https://thefeministbookshop.com

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