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International Women’s Day reading list

In honour of International Women’s Day this year, we’re celebrating the incredible contributions by women to literature. From contemporary novels to short fiction, memoirs, and investigative nonfiction, women writers have left an indelible mark on the literary landscape.

One of IWD’s 2023 missions is to elevate the visilbility of women creatives, so in this post we’ll be highlighting some of Scribe’s recent books by women. Spanning different writing styles, genres, and themes, these are books that deserve a spot on everyone’s bookshelf.

Whether you’re a seasoned reader or just looking for your next great read, this list is sure to inspire and empower you.


The stories of remarkable women

As a publisher of serious nonfiction, Scribe has always sought out books that uncover histories and stories that beg to be shared — including numerous memoirs and biographies of women who have achieved incredible things.

You Talk, We Die

In July 2016, inner-city resident Judy Ryan found a young man — one of ‘her regulars’ — slumped and quiet at her gate. He had overdosed from heroin. Fortunately, that man lived. But Judy had reached breaking point. After four years in a ‘war zone’, where children might encounter a body on the streets, enough was enough.

Knowing little about what she was getting into, but fired with resolve, Judy launched a grassroots campaign against apathy and prejudice. While the residents fought for their neighbourhood and for the right of those suffering from addiction to be treated with the needed care and respect, they would see three coroners’ reports, two elections, a private member’s bill, the police finally acknowledging that arresting their way out of the problem didn’t work, and more unnecessary deaths before the trial of a safe injecting facility was legislated.

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Taking Sides

As a broadcast journalist for Sky News and Al Jazeera, Sherine Tadros was trained to tell only the facts, as dispassionately as possible. But how can you remain neutral when reporting from war zones, or witnessing brutal state repression?

For twenty-six years, Tadros grew up in the quiet surroundings of her family’s London home, and yet injustice was something her Egyptian immigrant parents could never shelter her from. From her first journalistic assignment trapped inside a war zone in the Gaza Strip, to covering the Arab uprisings that changed the course of history, Tadros searched for ways to make a difference in people’s lives. But it wasn’t until her fiancé left her on their wedding day, and her life fell apart, that she found the courage to find her true purpose. It was the beginning of a journey leading to her current work for Amnesty International at the United Nations, where she lobbies governments to ensure that human rights are protected around the world.

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Empress of the Nile

In the 1960s, the world’s attention was focused on a nail-biting race against time: fifty countries contributed nearly a billion dollars to save a dozen ancient Egyptian temples from drowning in the floodwaters of the gigantic new Aswan High Dam. But the massive press coverage of this unprecedented rescue effort completely overlooked the gutsy French archaeologist who made it all happen. Without the intervention of Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, the temples would now be at the bottom of a gigantic reservoir. It was a project of unimaginable size and complexity that required the fragile sandstone temples to be dismantled, stone by stone, and rebuilt on higher ground.

After a century and a half of Western plunder of Egypt’s ancient monuments, Desroches-Noblecourt helped preserve a crucial part of its cultural heritage, and, just as importantly, made sure it remained in its homeland.

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Women in translation

As highlighted by the #womenintranslation project, translated work by women continues to underrepresent the presence of women writers in world literature. This IWD, take a look at some of your translated books and see if you can find some more women in translation to support!

Cursed Bunny

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF A PEN/HEIM TRANSLATION GRANT

This genre-defying collection of short stories blurs the lines between magical realism, horror, and science fiction. Using elements of the fantastic and surreal, Chung exposes the very real horrors and cruelties of patriarchy and capitalism in modern society, gliding effortlessly from terrifying to wryly humorous in a skilful translation by the acclaimed Anton Hur.

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Blue Hunger

An electrifying descent from loneliness and grief into obsessive, all-consuming love, by an Italian literary star, Blue Hunger asks how we create our identities and how we escape them; it is a fever-dream of a novel, propulsive and uncanny, that demolishes all taboos.

‘Viola Di Grado is, most importantly, a powerful and original writer; the fact that she also writes, movingly and with complexity, about members of the LGBT population, renders her work all the more singular.’
— Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours

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What I’d Rather Not Think About

What if one half of a pair of twins no longer wants to live? What if the other can’t live without them?

Publishing in April 2023, Jente Posthuma’sWhat I’d Rather Not Think About uses brief, precise vignettes, full of gentle melancholy and surprising humour, to tell the story of a depressive brother, viewed from the perspective of the sister who both loves and resents her twin, struggles to understand him, and misses him terribly.

‘The strength here is truly in the minimalist prose — razor-sharp sentences that often slot together perfectly in a seemingly nonchalant way. The result is a powerful story about death, life and survival.’ 
— Nederlands Dagblad

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Debut books

Marking the publication of their first book, debuts are often an author’s first entry into the publishing world. Whether they’ve come from a different career background or are just beginning their writing career, there’s nothing quite like reading the very first book that an author has put out. 

Reclaim

By clinical and forensic psychologist Dr Ahona Guha, Reclaim is a groundbreaking book that will broaden and expand your thinking, whether you are a trauma survivor, a clinician, someone who loves a survivor, or someone seeking to understand abuse.

‘Powerfully, accessibly, and with a clinician’s depth of detail, Dr Guha writes directly about the violence we prefer to drape in darkness. She shows that it is only by seeking to understand its causes and consequences that we can work towards creating safer, fairer communities. I’m grateful to her for this illuminating, and urgently necessary, book.‘
— Sarah Krasnostein, author of The Trauma Cleaner

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Bad Cree

In this gripping debut, a young Cree woman’s dreams lead her on a perilous journey of self-discovery that ultimately forces her to confront the toll of a legacy of violence on her family, her community, and the land they call home.

‘At once stunning, terrifying, and deeply affecting, in Bad Cree, the reader is invited to flock with Jessica Johns through soaring prose glistening with the power of family, Cree culture, and togetherness. A novel that haunts; a novel impossible to put down.’
— Laura Jean McKay, author of The Animals in That Country

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The Dream Builders

Written from the perspectives of ten different characters, Oindrila Mukherjee’s incisive debut novel explores class divisions, gender roles, and stories of survival within a society that is constantly changing and becoming increasingly Americanised. It’s a story about India today, and people impacted by globalisation everywhere: a tale of ambition, longing, and bitter loss that asks what it really costs to try and build a dream.

‘Mukherjee has written a funny, moving, and often deliciously cynical novel about the illusive ideal we sometimes call the New India. Written from almost every angle imaginable, the novel demonstrates how each of us might be a hero in our own narratives while being the potential villain in someone else’s.’
— Tiphanie Yanique, author of Monster in the Middle

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You Talk, We Die

Judy Ryan

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Empress of the Nile

Lynne Olson

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Taking Sides

Sherine Tadros

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Reclaim

Ahona Guha

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Bad Cree

Jessica Johns

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The Dream Builders

Oindrila Mukherjee

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Cursed Bunny

Bora Chung

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Blue Hunger

Viola Di Grado

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What I’d Rather Not Think About

Jente Posthuma

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