Friday, May 14, 2010

Got Women?

Virginia, HELP.

On Wednesday night, my friend Trish asked me who were my favorite contemporary female writers. I named one in particular: Sarah Manguso. If you haven't read her memoir, The Two Kinds of Decay, please do so immediately. But what about novelists? Fiction writers? Trish asked. Oh, I thought - well, Mary Gaitskill: Veronica. Well, Trish said, yes, but who else? And younger? I was stumped, and upset.

So who are your favorite*
  • Female
  • Contemporary
  • Novelists
  • Under 40
*favorite meaning you are a fan of their work(s)

Later, I came up with Zadie Smith. That was it. Is it just me or is there a massive black hole in fiction? Where are the young female novelists? Do they exist? Are they having trouble getting published? Is it just that women are all writing non-fiction pseudo memoirs right now? What the hell is going on? Please leave some names in the comments and prove me wrong!


Anonymous said...

Vendela Vida, Julie Orringer, Asali Solomon, Becky Curtis, Karen Russell, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Ceridwen Dovey...just to name a few! Don't worry.

Rose said...

hi jessica,
the thing that immediately popped into my head is karen russell's short story collection, ST LUCY'S HOME FOR GIRLS RAISED BY WOLVES, which is awesome; I think you would love it. russell is still under thirty, i think, and definitely under forty. judy budnitz' stories are interestingly weird, though i haven't read too many of them.

also, you forgot leanne shapton!

Anonymous said...

Nicole Krauss.

Anonymous said...

There's always, say, Nell Freudenberger, Marisha Pessl, Curtis Sittenfeld, or Jhumpa Lahiri (42), to name a few. Not saying they're the greatest, but they are at least young and female.

Snobber said...

these are all very helpful suggestions. there are a few people on this page that i've read and i have to say i really cannot stand - but, that's alright. they fit the bill!

yes of course i love leanne although i'm not sure i would consider her a novelist - not yet anyway!

William Owen said...

Selah Saterstrom. Certainly fits the bill (and she's a fellow alum). 40 is a pretty tough number though. Everybody loves a phenom (for the first 10 minutes at least) but by and large the rule of 10 hits novelists just like anyone else.

Jim Hines did an informal sort of survey, and the average age for pubbing a first novel is 36 (

Lauren said...

Rifka Galchen? Lydia Peelle?

Alison said...

She's over 40, but lately I can't get enough Anne Lamott. She probably most famous for her non-fiction (Bird By Bird, her Salon columns) but has written some great novels.

Snobber said...

Ooh yeah. I've never read her, but I have some friends who are obsessed with Lamott.