Feminista!'s "100 Great 20th Century Works of Fiction by Women"

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While we’d [Feminista!] agree that the Modern Library’s list features some extraordinary and wonderful works of fiction, we’re a little dismayed by a list of major 20th century English language novels that completely overlooks such writers as Margaret Atwood, Nadine Gordimer, Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Lee, Doris Lessing, Toni Morrison and Sylvia Plath. We could go on, but instead we’ve compiled our own list of 100 Great 20th Century English-language Works of Fiction by Women. In order to choose the works on the list, women’s online forums and lists were canvassed. Unlike the Modern Library’s, our list is not ranked. We’ve also restricted it to one work per author, since our aim was to showcase the extraordinary richness and variety of 20th century fiction by women.

Pages: 1

  1. 1.
    Bastard Out of Carolina
    by Dorothy Allison

  2. 2.
    I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
    by Maya Angelou

  3. 3.
    Cat's Eye
    by Margaret Atwood

  4. 4.
    The Bottle Factory Outing
    by Beryl Bainbridge

  5. 5.
    Gorilla, My Love
    by Toni Cade Bambara

  6. 6.
    by Djuna Barnes

  7. 7.
    by Pat Barker

  8. 8.
    Hotel Du Lac
    by Anita Brookner

  9. 9.
    Rubyfruit Jungle
    by Rita Mae Brown

  10. 10.
    The Good Earth (Enriched Classics)
    by Pearl S. Buck

  11. 11.
    by A.S. Byatt

  12. 12.
    Nights at the Circus
    by Angela Carter

  13. 13.
    So Far from God: A Novel
    by Ana Castillo

  14. 14.
    My Antonia
    by Willa Cather

  15. 15.
    The Awakening
    by Kate Chopin

  16. 16.
    The House on Mango Street
    by Sandra Cisneros

  17. 17.
    Elders and Betters
    by Ivy Compton-Burnett

  18. 18.
    Clear Light of Day
    by Anita Desai

  19. 19.
    Out of Africa (Modern Library 100 Best Nonfiction Books)
    by Isak Dinesen

  20. 20.
    Stones for Ibarra (Contemporary American Fiction)
    by Harriet Doerr

  21. 21.
    The Radiant Way
    by Margaret Drabble

  22. 22.
    Rebecca (Longman Fiction Series)
    by Daphne du Maurier

  23. 23.
    Second Class Citizen (African Writers)
    by Buchi Emecheta

  24. 24.
    by Louise Erdrich

  25. 25.
    At Freddie's
    by Penelope Fitzgerald

  26. 26.
    Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe
    by Fannie Flagg

  27. 27.
    Owls Do Cry
    by Janet Frame

  28. 28.
    Women's Room
    by Marilyn French

  29. 29.
    The Mind-Body Problem (Contemporary American Fiction)
    by Rebecca Goldstein

  30. 30.
    July's People
    by Nadine Gordimer

  31. 31.
    The Rest of Life : Three Novellas
    by Mary Gordon

  32. 32.
    The Well of Loneliness
    by Radclyffe Hall

  33. 33.
    When Rain Clouds Gather (AWS African Writers Series)
    by Bessie Head

  34. 34.
    The Talented Mr. Ripley
    by Patricia Highsmith

  35. 35.
    by Janet Hobhouse

  36. 36.
    The Bone People: A Novel
    by Keri Hulme

  37. 37.
    Their Eyes Were Watching God
    by Zora Neale Hurston

  38. 38.
    The Haunting of Hill House
    by Shirley Jackson

  39. 39.
    Heat and Dust
    by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

  40. 40.
    Fear of Flying
    by Erica Jong

  41. 41.
    Lucy: A Novel
    by Jamaica Kincaid

  42. 42.
    The Bean Trees: A Novel
    by Barbara Kingsolver

  43. 43.
    Tripmaster Monkey: His Fake Book, 1st Vintage Edition
    by Maxine Hong Kingston

  44. 44.
    by Joy Kogawa

  45. 45.
    The Fire-Dwellers (Phoenix Fiction)
    by Margaret Laurence

  46. 46.
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    by Harper Lee

  47. 47.
    The Golden Notebook: Perennial Classics edition
    by Doris Lessing

  48. 48.
    Moon Tiger
    by Penelope Lively

  49. 50.
    Balkan Trilogy
    by Olivia Manning

Pages: 1

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Created by Robot Co-op on Nov 30, 2005.


hello — 1 year ago

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Nawaal El Sadawi — 3 years ago

One of the most important African feminist writers…try “Woman at Point Zero”.

Also, where is “The Hour of the Star” by Clarice Lispector (one of my favourite books ever written)?

Not enough racial diversity on this list, I feel.

Zora Neale Hurston — 5 years ago

I suggest the addition of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. The dialect can be difficult to read at times (I started with the audiobook), but the characters are compelling and the prose is lyrical.

Untitled — 7 years ago

i can’t believe that ayn rand is down at number 74. And also that like so many people seem to do, Atlas Shrugged is ignored in favor of the Fountainhead. Both are wonderful, and while Rand’s political views could be construed as slightly insane, she is certainly an important figure in modern feminist literature.

Untitled — 7 years ago

Not only would I pick differently for Smiley (how about “Moo”?) and Erdrich (“Love Medicine” perhaps?), but there’s a dearth of SF and fantasy on this list, other than Marge Piercy who is considered politically correct.

If this is supposed to represent important and great works, it should feature more politically divergent and controversial books on here, not just Ayn Rand’s.

Where’s Helen Garner’s “Monkey Grip”, or did the Melbourne University scandal make her politically radioactive?

Haven’t Connie Willis, Octavia Butler and Shari Tepper, among others, written great literature that is also set in a speculative universe?

http://FeministSF.org has many places to look.

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