Tag Archives: MaddAddam

Books that Mattered in 2013: Extraordinary Books by Women

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The last 12 months were crammed with great and celebrated books. The Flamethrowers. Men We Reaped. The Goldfinch. Life After Life. Vampires in the Lemon Grove. The Interestings. Lean In. MaddAddam. Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin. Booker prize winner The Luminaries. Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal. Tampa. Night Film. Bough Down. The Lowland. Speedboat. The Woman Upstairs. The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roose­velt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.  

If you’re not too busy trying to read them all, you might want to go see the adaptation of Catching Fire in the theater. While you’re out, you may also feel the urge to pick up some Alice Munro following her well-deserved Nobel Prize in Literature.

Then, if you get a chance, you might see if any of the books written by men in 2013 are worth reading.

As we suspected back in August, 2013 was the Year of Women. This year, offerings from Thomas Pynchon, Dave Eggers (both of whom, FYI, wrote books with female protagonists), and even the darling George Saunders we’re overshadowed by the excitement around The Luminaries, by 28-year-old Elanor Catton, or The Flamethrowers, the second novel from Rachel Kushner. Allie Brosh had ’em laughing, and dressing up in costume, at readings of Hyperbole and a Half around the country, and Joyce Carol Oates’ annual novel The Accursed was said by many to be one of her best, or at least one of her strangest. The trend was so strong that J.K. Rowling tried to release The Cuckoo’s Calling under a man’s name, only to be swiftly revealed as her true female self.

Strangely, no one seems to have much noticed The Year of Women, or wagered a guess as to why so much of the interesting and ambitious writing of the past year came from women. We welcome your ideas, but for now we’ll go ahead and take this as a good sign. The books above were never labeled or categorized as “great women’s books” — they’re just great books that people loved. It’s the best rebuke to all the Sad Literary Men and Great Male Narcissists since, well, Adelle Waldman’s The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., and has made for an extraordinary year of reading.

See other Books that Mattered in 2013.

1 Comment

Filed under Books that Mattered in 2013

Just Like Starting Over

FA MaddAddam

FA review tag

Most mainstream speculative sci-fi follows a handful of basic storylines, roughly speaking, the efforts of Good Guys to prevent, survive, overthrow or reverse social orders or apocalyptic events, typically caused by Bad Guys. America’s latest favorite, The Hunger Games, is first about surviving and overthrowing. The Matrix trilogy is about overthrow and reverse. The Terminator franchise has explored all of these areas with varying degrees of success.

In literature, George Orwell’s 1984 is, on its surface, about overthrowing. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is about surviving. Margaret Atwood has a well-deserved reputation as a master of the form, and while her works are typically a cut above the rest, they still fall into the usual categories. Her best known book The Handmaid’s Tale is, in its unique way, about surviving and overthrowing. More recently, she has written a trilogy of speculative sci-fi about the collapse of a near future dystopia. The first two entries fit into the broad categories of prevention and survival. But the final book, MaddAddam, is an exception — to the trilogy and the sci-fi mainstream.  Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Hooray Fiction!