owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
In one of my cursory blog-checks over the past few rushed days, I noticed that Bitch Magazine had published a list of 100 feminist YA books. Now, it seems, they have amended the list, removing Sisters Red, Living Dead Girl, and Tender Morsels because all three books dealt with sexual assault in ways that could be triggering or otherwise problematic.

...In response to which, various YA authors -- including Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Maureen Johnson, and Ellen Klages -- protested their own inclusion on the list.

I've read critiques of all three books and I think they're reasonable. The only one I've actually read is Tender Morsels, and that is a book that I will clutch to my heart and defend against anyone -- while also acknowledging that it has a lot of rape in it, and that not all of it is portrayed in a way that I would sanction as Okay, that I would hedge myself very carefully when recommending it.

I'm okay in principle with Bitch vetting their book list for ideological purity, but if that's what they're doing they need to take a look at half a dozen examples of dodgy race stuff in the other books on the list, and other issues of unexamined privilege. If that's what they're doing, they're going to have a hard time making it to 100 books. Heck, I love Laurie Halse Anderson but for my own peace of mind I will probably never read Wintergirls.

I am trying to find the words for what I want to say that don't privilege stories over the people who are hurt by those stories. That may be impossible.

A list of 100 feminist books ought to pay attention to the diversity of women's experiences and the diversity of feminisms. To me, that means that it can't shy away from anger and sharp edges and the process of turning over parts of yourself and finding something awful inside. I want a book on that list that is as gracefully empowering as Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, but I also want a book as sharply edged as Tender Morsels.

And I don't want that to come at the expense of readers who may be triggered -- but again, I may just be at an impasse there.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
I feel like I'm missing a bunch, since I was really only tracking YA books, but I mostly only read YA books so I'm not missing too much.

I loved many of these books. I was glad to discover Elizabeth Hand, finally and far too late; I glommed on to two desperately dark and brutal YA books, Janne Teller's "Nothing" and Sonya Hartnett's "Butterfly"; I cheered every debut novel and especially liked "Guardian of the Dead" and "The Replacement"; I need the sequel to "White Cat" yesterday, and loved "Ship Breaker" for being dystopian without falling into the usual traps of teen dystopias; "Kasha" (in English as "All She Was Worth") is the longest Japanese novel I've ever read, suspenseful and well-written enough to hold my attention for the months it took me to finish it.

Partial list, cut for length )


owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)

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