Emilia Clarke wants a future where female actors are known for their work, not their bodies.
You seem so nice.
This is something people often say to bestselling thriller writer Lisa Unger upon meeting her. It seems strange that people should be surprised, considering her books are no more violent than the usual psychological thriller. They’re not gory, they’re not showy. So why do some feel so baffled that she is writing violence that is none too different to that of her male counterparts?
You already know the answer, as does Lisa Unger. In fact, when asked about why she writes about violence against women in her books, she responded, “I’ll stop writing about it when it stops happening.”
Lisa Unger has made a name for herself as a prolific author, with her most famous novel being In the Blood, a book which Kirkus Reviews called a “scary winner from an accomplished pro”, and which went on to be a Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee for Best Mystery & Thriller 2014, and winner of the Silver Falchion Award for Best Novel in the Crime Thriller category.
Despite this, Ms. Unger has had her own encounters with sexism constantly.
At ThrillerFest XIV, Unger shared a personal story with moderator Karin Slaughter and the audience, regarding an incident that took place while Unger worked an event with author James Hall.
A little background: James Hall is an American author and professor from Florida. Author of eighteen novels, four books of poetry, a collection of short stories, and a collection of essays, James Hall is not only a successful writer, but a good man. The same could not be said about a particular fan of his, however.
At a book signing with James Hall, Ms. Unger was working as a moderator when a male member of the audience dismissed her, saying “I don’t read books by women”.
A year later, Ms. Unger was at her own signing at the same bookstore when she spied a man in the audience staring her down. They made eye contact, and he seemed to look right through her.
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Ms. Unger noticed that the man had a large bag at his side…
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When the show was over, the man was still there, still staring at her. His eyes were fixed on her.
Creepy much? Ms. Unger, who was understandably disturbed by the man’s presence, said she felt particularly uncomfortable because “women feel vulnerable in a way men do not”.
As the event came to an end, the man’s eyes stayed fixed on her. While everyone else shuffled out, he remained.
You can image the fear when Unger felt when she found herself alone with this man. The man rose, picking up his bag and approached her.
It was then that the man revealed that he was the audience member from the year before and, since then, had read all her books. The bag was full of each and every book she had every written.
Now a fan of hers, he asked her to sign them.
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Imagine waking up in Cairo on January 25th of 2011. Trying to call your loved ones, but to no avail. Trying to turn on your lights, but to no avail. Turning on your television, and witnessing the people of your country violently turning on the government in the historical site Tahrir Square. In light of the low wages, corruption, lack of freedom of speech, and police brutality that plagued the nation, millions of protesters from various social, economic, and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Violent interactions between the police and the protesters resulted in almost 1,000 people killed, and over 6,000 left injured.
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The role of women in the revolution needs to be discussed more. Prior to the revolution in 2011, women only accounted for 10% of protestors in uprisings. However, in 2011 in Tahrir Square, they accounted for about half of the protestors. Together with men, women risked their lives to defend their fellow Egyptians and defend the square. The reason why there was a huge increase of female presence in the protests is attributed to the improvement of education, especially throughout younger women. Quite an empowering moment not just for Middle Eastern women, but women around the world.
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Women and the Egyptian Revolution: Engagement and Activism during the 2011 Arab Uprisings chronicles the 2011 revolution in Egypt through the viewpoint of women, with various first hand interviews with female activists. It looks at the history of gender throughout Egypt and discusses the possible outcomes for the future possibilities of women’s rights within the country. The author, Nermin Allam, blends social movement theories and the lived experiences of women during the uprisings, leading up to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. Female engagement in political confrontation throughout the Middle East is a highly under researched topic, and this book is a crucial contribution to the field.
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Women have a lot to say — or write. Contemporary fiction is currently filled to the brim with smart and savvy female authors blowing readers away with their debuts. If these authors aren’t on your shelf already, go ahead and assume that they will be by the time you reach the end of this list. Here are a few incredible modern storytellers that you need to know.
1. Sally Rooney
If you haven’t heard the name, Sally Rooney, you may have seen one of novels — Conversations with Friends or Normal People — on Instagram, where they have become quite the staple for ‘bookstagram’ users. Meanwhile, she is also receiving rave reviews from critics and winning awards for her works, including the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year. With both readers and critics commending this 28-year-old’s two recent novels, you be wondering if she is overhyped — reader, she is not. Rooney’s writing is quiet, yet striking. It’s relatable, yet challenging. Her novels about the everyday lives of young, smart people are slow burners, while also somehow being page turners. Rooney is worth every bit of the hype, pick up one of her books already.
2. Elif Batuman
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Another highly praised writer, Batuman is the author of debut novel, The Idiot, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 2018. The Idiot follows Harvard freshman Selin in her first year, during which she meets and begins an email correspondence with an older student, Ivan. It is captivating to experience Selin struggle to work out her feelings for Ivan in conjunction to adjusting to adult life. Batuman’s characters are radiantly real — flawed and often naive, but compelling and visceral all the same. Batuman also has a collection of essays entitled The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them.
3. Candice Carty-Williams
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The titular protagonist of Carty-Williams’ debut novel, Queenie, is one of those characters that you desperately want to be friends with. Tired of not seeing herself depicted in contemporary media and fiction, Carty-Williams molded the character of Queenie, a Jamaican British woman living in London, struggling with her job, her relationships. Not only does Carty-Williams expertly convey the personal and intimate, but tackles the larger scale societalissues that affect individuals. From fetishization within interracial dating to gentrification, Queenie experiences it all — as does the reader.
4. R.O. Kwon
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The Washington Post claims that Kwon “doesn’t make it easy to get her debut out of your system.” The debut in question, The Incendiaries, follows two college freshmen, one of whom becomes involved with an extremist religious cult tied to North Korea. With an unconventional structure — told via a stream-of-consciousness-like regaining of memories — Kwon pulls the reader in by keeping them at bay. Yet, even with the method of distancing, readers are able to connect deeply with the characters and their actions. It’s a contradicting experience of a novel well worth diving into.
5. Kristen Roupenian
The author of “Cat Person” has written more than just “Cat Person.” Roupenian quickly rose to fame in late 2017 when her short story, “Cat Person,” was published in The New Yorker and quickly became the second most read story of the year on the popular site, despite being published in the December issue. After receiving a $1.2 million advance for a collection of short stories, she published You Know You Want This early this year. The result is a group of smart and fascinatingly dark short stories. These stories are not “Cat Person” from different angles, but rather a group of versatile and sharply contrasted pieces showcasing Roupenian’s abilities. And yet, the keen observation and sharp prose of “Cat Person” are consistently present. Readers are able to get just as lost in each of these worlds as millions of readers did with Margot and her cat person date, Robert.
The film rights to Sarah Davis-Goff’s dystopian novel Last Ones Left Alive have been acquired by Irish production company Treasure Entertainment, which means we’re getting a film adaptation on the way!
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Last Ones Left Alive oscillates between a young Orpen training as a child on her peaceful island-home of Slanbeg and Orpen as an adult traveling towards the mysterious Phoenix City.
Add in a four-legged companion and her wounded, wheelbarrow-bound guardian and you have a harrowing journey made all the more despite, and thus dramatic.
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The Times writes that “[Sarah Davis-Goff] sees it as a wasteful dismissal of ‘the experiences, viewpoints and brilliant work of women’. Her enjoyable debut novel suffers from no such deficit,” and that might be the best summation of this novel.
Feminist, kickass, The Guardian noted that the novel “runs compellingly enough to an irresistible internal logic of violence,” with the The Irish Times writing “Davis-Goff blends narrow and wide lens writing to good effect”.
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Perhaps it’s shouldn’t be as astonishing for the novel to get a film adaptation, but I can’t help but be blown away considered it was published by Tinder Press just a month ago on March 7, 2019.
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Screen Daily reports that Treasure Entertainment has bought film rights. Producer Rebecca O’Flanagan said in a statement that:
From my first read, I was struck by the visual nature of the book and could immediately see that it was a story that has huge potential to hit international screens with iconic and far-reaching success.
So far it’s not known who will be involved in the project. Davis-Goff is said to be “creatively involved” but will not write the screenplay. That makes sense, considering that Totally Dublin reports that “Davis-Goff has signed a two-book deal with publisher Tinder Press, so horror fans can expect another page-turner in the near-future”.
What are you more excited for: the film adaptation or the sequel novel?
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