Recommended by Daniel, UT Libraries staff at the Benson Latin American Collection: 228 pages without dialogue! This book explores the relationship between a mother and a daughter, between a woman and her island, between the colonized and the colonizer.
Recommended by Gina, UT Libraries staff in Research Services & Digital Initiatives: Not since reading Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels have I been so moved by a work of fiction that explores the challenges of womanhood. Breasts and Eggs is the story of 30-something Natsu as she navigates career struggles and her desire to have a child as a single woman in Tokyo. The story also includes Natsu's working class sister and her niece, giving one of the most realistic portrayals of a teen girl's inner life that I've ever read. A fabulous, immersive novel!
Recommended by David, UT library staff in Digital Stewardship: This is a rich and beautiful portrait of a relatively minor figure from Greek mythology. Miller's background as a classicist shows in the depth of mythological characters that might ordinarily be one-dimensional or entirely alien, as well in as their nuanced relationships with one another. Miller does an excellent job of humanizing the title character without simply modernizing her or the setting.
Recommended by Katie, UT Libraries staff in Development: On the small island of Jeju, South Korea there lived a girl named 영숙 (Yeong-Suk) whose mother was a Haenyeo, a diving woman of Jeju Island. The story follows her life, from childhood, through the devastation of Japanese Occupation, World War II, and the Korean War, to present day. This story spoke to me because I lived on Jeju Island for several years. The matrifocal culture of the Haenyeo is beautiful, interesting and important but missing from conversations on the global stage. This book does a beautiful, heart wrenching job of telling a story that centers life on Jeju Island and what life was like as a Sea Woman.
Recommended by Seb, UT senior: An old man in crutches who may or may not be called Molloy wanders the countryside in search of his most-likely-deceased mother, monologuing away, losing himself in his thoughts, one peculiar digression after another. This book is brilliantly strange, essentially plotless. If you're into stream of consciousness type stuff I highly recommend this unique literary creature, along with the other two books in the more-or-less-connected trilogy (Malone Dies and The Unnamable, each one weirder and more impenetrable than the last).
Recommended by Nora, UT Libraries staff in Captioning Services and Katie, UT Libraries staff in Development: Nora said "Lyrical, emotional, and loving, Song of Achilles is Greek myth made personal with the doomed love story of Achilles and Patroclus. Madeline Miller takes the Iliad as a jumping off point to explore the complex relationships and early times of these heroes, taking them from their pedestals into the small moments of their lives."
Katie said "The Song of Achilles is a beautiful retelling on the myth of Achilles. When you are reading Miller's writing, it harkens back to the lilting cadence of the original epic poems while remaining engaging and approachable to all. And her portrayal of the love story between Achilles and Patroclus is the best I have ever seen. 1000% would recommend."
Recommended by Elizabeth, UT Libraries staff in Borrower Services: Readers be warned: if you’re looking for an escape from our current pandemic reality, this is not the pick for you right now. But if you’re okay reading a novel that takes place in the days just before and after the world collapses after a (fictional) swine flu sweeps the globe, this might just be one of the best books you’ll ever read. Following a traveling Shakespeare troupe in the Great Lakes region (after all—once governments collapse, national borders tend to become irrelevant), this is a serenade to what it means to be human and what it means to survive. Emily St. John Mandel’s storytelling is so meticulously elegant that there are chapters that read more like poetry than most fiction I’ve encountered. I’ve thought about it at least once a week (even pre-COVID!) since I read it years ago. Most of my friends and family want me to stop talking about this book but I can’t. If you’ve stuck with me thus far, you likely don’t need any more convincing, but here’s a bonus anyway: HBO Max will be releasing a mini-series adaptation on December 16th!
TL;DR: poetic dystopian fiction about a pandemic & a rag-tag group of troubadours.
Recommended by Elizabeth, UT Libraries staff in Borrower Services: I read this collection in the original Spanish, so I can’t speak to the quality of the translation, but I am recommending it anyway because UTL doesn’t have it in Spanish (yet!) & I’m convinced that Mariana Enriquez should be as big as a name as Carmen María Machado for feminist horror fans. This collection twists and turns through worlds just between the supernatural & our own—houses that bend space & time, deadly forested roads, noisy city neighborhoods that in their density hide countless ghosts. Her writing will captivate you to the point where you won’t realize what is truly happening until her carefully crafted last-second reveal; her last & the titular) story made me audibly gasp. And, once you make it through the uncanny valley, it’s clear that Enriquez knows where the true horror lies—that the women at the center of her stories are more relatable than you’d like to admit.
TL;DR: a collection in translation of short fiction from Argentina’s biggest feminist horror powerhouse
Recommended by Kayla, UT Libraries staff in Interlibrary Services: I have no words great enough to describe how I felt the first time I read this book. This gripping story follows an underrepresented grad student and her struggles with her family and faith. I feel that any student can relate to the main character and will get something out of this book. And it's an Own Voices story, so even better! Trigger Warnings: depression, addiction, suicidal tendencies