Review: Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

moon tiger by penelope lively (andre deutsch 1987)

Reviewed by Emily Nelson

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf’s seminal essay on writing, feminism, and everything that lies between, Woolf writes extensively against “masculine” history, which favors stories focused on war and patriarchal politics and dismisses “feminine” history that “deals with the feelings of women in a drawing room” (77). Instead of perpetuating such a one-sided view of history, Woolf argues, it is the job of writers — particularly female writers — to explore and celebrate a more subjective and inclusive version of history that emphasizes and elevates the history of the individual above the history of the political. And in my opinion, there’s no better example of this principle in action than Penelope Lively’s 1987 novel Moon Tiger, which explores a fictional female historian looking back on life on her deathbed.

Continue reading

Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

kang

The Vegetarian by Han Kang (Hogarth Books, 2015) trans. by Deborah Smith

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

On the surface, the story of Han Kang’s Man Booker prize-winning novel The Vegetarian sounds almost like a fairy tale. It is the story, after all, of a woman desperate to become a tree. But the pages themselves weave a different sort of tale – one of nightmares, of abuse, of the misunderstandings and cruelties which stem from an attempt at independence. In three parts, it winds itself around one starving woman, and the myriad ways the other characters seek to control her desires. It is horrifying, stark, unflinching book which sneaks up on you, startles you. After reading this book, I was afraid to look in the mirror. Continue reading