With International Women’s day on the horizon and fast approaching (March 8th), what better excuse to collaborate with the Feminist Bookshop once more? Avid reader, writer, staff member and lovely Hollie has composed a list of five women and one non-gender conforming author that everyone should read. Whether you are new to reading and think prize-winner Evaristo is a good place to start, or you are after something weird and wonderful via Award, then look no further. The Feminist Bookshop is located on Upper North Street and has a passionate and helpful team which you can go to for more book recommendations. Or, simply browse their beautifully colourful shelves, and make yourself comfortable with a coffee in their downstairs library.
Now a household name in the literary world, since becoming the first Black woman to win the Booker Prize in 2019 with her fantastic novel Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo is an expert in her craft. She explores the African and Caribbean diaspora with such nuance and charisma, you can’t help but fall in love with her characters and work.
Staff favourites include Mr Loverman, whose closeted protagonist is so well fleshed out that, despite his flaws, you can’t help but fall for his wit and charm. And Blonde Roots, a satirical novel which reverses the roles of the transatlantic slave trade, entertaining, gorgeously written and thought provoking in equal measures. Aside from her fiction writing, Evaristo is also a poet, an essayist, an academic, and an advocate for diversity in literature. A must-read author for all.
We love Juno Dawson here at The Feminist Bookshop. We were first introduced to her through her incredible young adult fiction, such as the simultaneously glamorous and gritty Clean, and festive favourite Stay Another Day.
We were immediately drawn to her non-fiction works exploring queerness and gender, including the incredible What’s the T?, It is a comforting guide to all things trans for teenagers and young people. Juno’s bibliography is impressively broad, and she manages to excel at every genre she dips her toes into. We couldn’t get enough of her recent debut adult novel, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, the first book of a trilogy following a coven of witches which is queer, trans inclusive, and ultimately a breath of fresh air. The release of the second installment, The Shadow Cabinet, is still a few months away, so until then we’ll be waiting on the edge of our seats!
Aptly crowned ‘Queen of the Big Reveal’, local author Dorothy Koomson is the crime-thriller writer. She’s been a published author for over 20 years, and many of her recent works are set in Brighton, including thrilling mystery The Brighton Mermaid, and All My Lies are True.
Aside from being a bestselling and multi-award winning author, Dorothy is consistently vocal about the hostility of the UK publishing industry towards Black, particularly women, authors, and calling for change in the way the industry currently operates. In 2020 she started a podcast, The Happy Author, to help aspiring, particularly marginalized, writers to get their works published and navigate the oftentimes unwelcoming industry.
In 2022, Dorothy was the Author-In-Residence of the first ever Brighton Book Festival, a festival celebrating diverse voices in literature, run by Afrori Books and ourselves at The Feminist Bookshop. The festival hosted writing workshops, and in-conversation events; an all around incredible advocate for promoting marginalized voices in literature. We can’t get enough of everything Dorothy does and writes!
Mona Awad writes weird fiction. Despite her significantly smaller catalogue, Mona Awad has already become a must-buy author for our staff. We were first introduced to her work through the popularity of her novel Bunny. It is a culty, satirical, fairytale-esque horror, exploring class, female friendship and art history in a fresh, exhilarating and undeniably unique way.
2022’s All’s Well is equally wacky, following the breakdown of a drama teacher obsessed with putting on a production of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well and ultimately falls down a rabbit hole of madness. Her debut, 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, follows the life of a girl and her relationship with body image through 13 interconnected short stories. Reading Awad’s novels feels like you’re in the midst of an acid trip; you will either love or hate her work, but if you love it, you will really love it. We can’t wait to see what’s next in store for her.
Leah Lakshi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Leah is our go-to for books prioritising disabled voices and concerns. Their work, primarily non-fiction, focuses on the experiences of queer and trans people of colour, the intersections between colonialism and violence, and disability rights. Some staff favourites include 2018’s Care Work, a series of essays exploring the politics and realities of disability justice, whilst also putting forward the tools needed to imaging a more accessible, compassionate future.
Also, 2023’s The Future Is Disabled, a provocative look into the status of disability rights in the wake of Covid-19, Trump and the rise of fascism. A poet, a performance artist, an activist, and a healer, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s work manages to simultaneously critique and tackle the harsh, and often deadly, realities of queer disabled folks of colour, whilst also offering hope and tools for a better future for all.
We’re all huge fans of Michelle Tea here at the shop. We had the pleasure of hosting a book launch event for last year’s release of Knocking Myself Up, a memoir about her journey towards motherhood as a 40-year old, uninsured queer woman, and absolutely loved her wit, honesty and spirit.
Tea’s work has a clear, signature style; punky, chaotic, and witty, blurring the lines between and fiction, which has solidified her status as a modern literary icon. Black Wave is a perfect example of Tea’s gritty brand of autofiction, following a fictionalised Michelle through her sexual conquests, drug abuse, the hedonistic queer subcultures of 1990s San Francisco and LA, and, ultimately, the end of the world. Michelle has also released a guide to tarot, Modern Tarot, and hosts a podcast called Your Magic, which invites celebrity guests and listeners along for spiritual discussions, tarot readings, and more.
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