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Female Transgressive Writers of all time (Part 7)

In this post, I'll introduce another 5 amazing authors that I believe their writing can be categorized under Transgressive Fiction according to their style and themes, how they use the power of writing to transgress the norms of their society and culture. Today we will talk about Virginie Despentes, Lois Lowry, Ayn Rand, Margaret Atwood, and Paula Hawkins.

Virginie Despentes

Virginie is an award-winning French writer, novelist, and filmmaker and is known best for her work exploring gender, sexuality, and people who live in poverty or other marginalized conditions. Her work pertains to the sexual revolution lived by Generation X and somehow praises pornography in public spaces through new communication techniques. Her work is loaded with a transgressive exploration of what are the limitations of obscenity as an antidote to the new moral order. The characters in her books and films normally deal with misery and injustice, self-violence such as drug addiction, or violence towards others such as rape or terrorism, the violence she has also suffered from (source).

Virginie Despentes is best known for her incendiary debut novel Baise-Moi (Fuck-Me) that was published in 1993 and adapted into a controversial film that Despentes wrote and directed herself. For years after the release of her 1993 novel Rape Me, she was depicted

by French literary institutions as an outsider or "enfant terrible", and drew criticism from both the political left and right. Most of the reviews about her work were negative however her later work Apocalypse Bébé (2010) and the Vernon Subutex trilogy (2015–17) received many positive reviews. Her book King Kong Theory is most probably a gender study and "often passed down to millennial women as a recommendation from a cool, not-that-much-older mentor."(source)

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry is the author of several books for children and young adults, including The Giver Quartet, Number the Stars, and Rabble Starkey. She is known for writing about difficult subject matters, dystopias, and complex themes in works for young audiences. Many of her books have been challenged or even banned in some schools and libraries, including the first book of The Giver Quartet, The Giver (1993) which is considered a mandatory curriculum in some schools while being prohibited in others.

Lowry has explored several complex issues such as racism, terminal illness, murder, the Holocaust, and the questioning of authority, among other challenging topics which lead to both praise and criticism. The Giver (the first novel in The Giver Quartet) received a diversity of reactions from schools in America since 1993. According to the New York Times in 2012, The Giver had been perennially near the top of the America Library Association's list of banned and challenged books since its publication. (source) In a 2012 review of Son, the New York Times said the 1993 publication of The Giver had "shocked adult and child sensibilities alike".(source)

“If you were to be lost in the river, Jonas, your memories would not be lost with you. Memories are forever.”
― Lois Lowry, The Giver

Ayn Rand

(February 2, 1905 – March 6, 1982)

Ayn Rand is a Russian-American writer and philosopher known for her fiction and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. (source) She was born and educated in Russia and moved to the United States in 1926. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. The theme of the book focuses on the strength of the individual, the tug between good and evil, the threat of fascism. The confrontation of those themes, along with the amazing stroke of Rand's writing, combine to give this book its enduring influence. (source) In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. This is a mystery story and a philosophical revolution told in the form of an action thriller of violent events, a ruthlessly brilliant plot structure, and an irresistible suspense.

Afterward, until her death in 1982, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own periodicals and releasing several collections of essays.(source)Rand by her time was a transgressive writer as she rejected faith and religion and supported rational and ethical egoism and rejected altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral(source) and opposed collectivism, statism, and anarchism. Although Rand opposed libertarianism, which In the book Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical Sciabarra explains that she viewed as anarchism, she is often associated with the modern libertarian movement. Rand's fiction received mixed reviews from literary critics and academic philosophers have generally ignored or rejected her philosophy because of her polemical approach and lack of methodological rigor. (source)

“Freedom (n.): To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing.”
― Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Margaret Atwood

It's our turn to talk about our beloved Margaret Atwood. Atwood is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, teacher, environmental activist, and inventor. Since 1961, she has published 18 books of poetry, 18 novels, 11 books of non-fiction, nine collections of short fiction, eight children's books, and two graphic novels, and a number of small press editions of both poetry and fiction. Let's not forget that she has won numerous awards and honors for her writing. In general, Atwood's works encompass a variety of themes such as gender and identity, religion and myth, the power of language, climate change, and "power politics".(source)

One of the most famous novels that is adapted into films and series much time, The Handmaid's Tale has been thoroughly analyzed within the context of this new subgenre of "transgressive utopian dystopias." (source) This book covers the interrelated categories of gender, race, and class, along with their relationship to classic literary dualism and the dystopian narrative. The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, Atwood reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. It is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force. This is definitely one of the best transgressive literary works of all time.

“For Adam was first formed, then Eve. ‘And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived in the transgression.”
— Margaret Atwood

Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkins is a British author best known for her best-selling psychological thriller novel The Girl on the Train, which deals with themes of domestic violence, alcohol, and drug abuse. (source) The novel was adapted into a film starring Emily Blunt in 2016 and following that year, Hawkins' second thriller novel, Into the Water, was released. The Girl on the Train took her six months, writing full-time, to complete, at a time when she was in a difficult financial situation and had to borrow from her father to be able to complete it. The story is about a divorced woman who is an on-off recovering alcoholic who aimlessly rides a train into New York City every day after losing her job and her marriage. From the train, she fixates on the lives of her former husband Tom, his new wife Anna, and their neighbors and the nanny for their baby Evie.

There are many critics about both the movie and the book seeing it as ultimately squanders for the sake of a hollow, ponderous plot. Alternately overly convoluted and predictable, the film relies too heavily on its twists while offering little in the way of character development, leaving its three central women as unrelatable and unlikeable stereotypes. (source)Reading this book you should expect tense, violent confrontations, as well as graphic scenes of people fighting for their lives and R-rated language.

“They’re what I lost, they’re everything I want to be.”
― Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

That's all for this post. Check the links below if you're interested in more female transgressive authors and books. Until next post. Ciao!

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