Thursday, July 2, 2009

Announcing: 50 Books for Post-Modern Times


Zora Neale Hurston

Earlier today, I covered Newsweek’s myopic list of the 50 books that define and explain these confusing modern times. To recap: the list was 84% white, 78% male, 96% straight, and 66% both white and male.

Now, I’m not putting down white male writers. But there are many wonderful writers who are subject to significant oppression, and choosing to promote already coddled and significantly advantaged writers disproportionately contributes to that problem. Our country and our world is filled with brilliant and illuminating writers who do not fit perfectly into Jon Meacham’s narrow idea of what the canon looks like.

In response to this list, I present:

50 Books for Post-Modern Times

One upcoming week in this space, I want to collect 50 works by writers whose bodies do not fit neatly into the canonical narrative. I want writers that reflect the issues of discrimination that we face today: writers of color, women writers, transgendered writers, QLBTGI writers, disabled writers. I want writers have shaped your feminist/progressive worldview. I want writers who “challenge the structure that would allow for domination of white male authorship.”*

So: who inspires you? I’m going to solicit contributions from some of the bloggers who inspire me, but I want to hear from you, readers of Deeply Problematic. Give me up to five authors who face significant oppression. I’m especially interested in intersectional writers. There are no genre limitations.

To contribute:
  1. Leave a comment here with your submission, including why you love them, or
  2. Email me at with your submission.
In your communication, tell me:
  1. How they inspire you
  2. What they contribute to our cultural narrative
Everyone who contributes will be listed, quoted, and linked to when I post at least one of your submissions in the multi-entry list next week (or later, depending on how long it takes to get people to participate).

I'm excited to hear from you!

*Description by the excellent M of Ped Xing, who named this project.


  1. Excellent idea! I'll shoot you an email after I give this some thought...

  2. And hopefully, a list of 50 damn GOOD writers. There are a handful of books that people have recommended to me simply because they challenge the canon-- and you know, they really weren't well-written. Damn shame.

    Anyways, I'll shoot you an email with some more explanation after I think about it a bit, but just to throw some names out there:

    + Life Among the Paiutes - Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins
    + The Color Purple - Alice Walker
    + Fun Home - Alison Bechdel
    + Sexing the Cherry, or Oranges are Not The Only Fruit, by Jeanette Winterson
    + Beloved. Duh.
    + Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman (I know, he's white, he's male, and he needs to be read more)

    ...okay, I realized this list was getting a little long for a comment. I'll just wait for the email.

    Great idea kid!

  3. Les Feinberg; 'Transgneder Warriors' and the incredible 'Stone Butch Blues'.

    And 'My Gender Workbook' by Kate Bornstein.

  4. Alice Walker -- Temple of My Familiar is so beautiful!

    Alison Bechdel -- Even the hegemony thought Fun Home was good, and the Dykes to Watch Out For comics are just about the funniest thing ever. And from a literary perspective, expanding the canon to include things, such as graphic novels, that are new or undervalued forms is important.

    Similarly, Marjane Satrapi's graphic novels about Iran are important, and her artistic style is lovely.

    Angela Davis -- cause she's more badass than anyone.

    Sheri S. Tepper -- lots of good fantasy/SF novels that make you think.

    Rita Mae Brown - wrote good novels besides Ruby Fruit Jungle, such as Six of One.

    Ok, I'll stop now.

  5. hello!

    Some of my favorites are:

    -Beloved (Toni Morrison)
    -I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
    -Egalia's Daughters (Gerd Brantenberg)
    -Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (Mary Roach)

    That last one I read for a class, and it's really interesting. And kinda gross. But good!

    Happy 4th! =)

  6. How about the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Its a book that really makes us think about the integrity we may leave behind while rushing into materialism and progress. And don't think you have to love Objectivism to enjoy it.

  7. Everything Octavia Butler ever wrote, but especially Parable of the Sower and the Xenogenesis Series.


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