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Literary Links

How Contemporary Literary Fiction Is Reclaiming the Insanity Arc and Humanizing Women

Dee Das starts her essay with this premise:

A hundred or so years ago, women were silenced into submission by psychiatry under the label of ‘insane’, every time they posed a threat to the models of domesticity. Any woman who didn’t conform to social expectations was deemed medically impaired. . . . Literary fiction writers are demolishing this stale mold to give female characters the reverence they deserve, one novel at a time.

Das discusses two recent novels, Em And The Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto and Sorrow And Bliss by Meg Mason, that feature a woman character working to face her mental illness in its relationship to mothering. Das concludes:

Literary fiction portraying flawed female characters fighting their respective battles with mental health is a much-needed social movement. It urges us to start thinking of women as beings deserving of care, thought, and affection, and not just launching pads for the nourishment of the male child.

Categories: Life Stories in Literature, Literature & Psychology, Literary History

Booklist Backlist: Tales of Dementia

The first novel about dementia focusing on the patient that I remember reading is Lisa Genova’s Still Alice (2008). Before Genova’s novel, just about everything written about Alzheimer’s disease told the story of the difficulties, both physical and emotional, that patients’ caregivers faced.

Literature has since caught up with the growing number of people living with all kinds of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Here’s a list of books, gathered by Terry Hong for the American Library Association’s publication Booklist, that deal with the topic. 

Category: Literature & Psychology

Toshio Mori endured internment camps and overcame discrimination to become the first Japanese American to publish a book of fiction

Alessandro Meregaglia, assistant professor and archivist at Boise State University, tells the story of aspiring writer Toshio Mori, a U.S. citizen (born in Oakland, California) with Japanese parents, who had landed a book-publication contract just days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Category: Literary History

A Dictator’s Marginalia

An excerpt from Stalin’s Library: A Dictator and His Books by Geoffrey Roberts.

Category: Literary History

How the new banned books panic fits into America’s history of school censorship

“What’s at stake? Who gets to control the story of America.”

Constance Grady looks at the current trend in school book banning in the context of a movement that began in the U.S. in the 20th century. 

Categories: Censorship, Life Stories in Literature

What Is Social Horror? 8 Novels That Turn Horror on Its Head

Hannah Reynolds describes social horror, “a subgenre of horror . . . [that] showcases real-life societal oppression . . . It can highlight inequalities in the way people are treated based on race, class, and sex, and often delivers biting social commentaries. In addition to getting your pulse pounding, these titles are sure to make you think.”

She mentions 8 recent books that present social horror, including the widely known Mexican Gothic and Lovecraft Country.

Category: Literary Criticism, Literature & Psychology

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

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