Meg Wolitzer didn’t mean to write a novel of the #MeToo movement. But her latest, “The Female Persuasion,” explores issues around power, sexual assault, feminism and how women relate, through the relationship of a shy college freshman and her much older female mentor.
“These are old issues,” Wolitzer told the NewsHour in a recent interview. “Female power, misogyny, the treatment of women, how you make meaning in the world. And these are all issues that I’ve been thinking about and writing about for a very long time.”
Wolitzer explored these issues through previous novels such as “Sleepwalking” (1982), which follows three girls on a college campus obsessed with their heroines, “The Ten Year Nap” (2008), tracking four women who have decided not to work, and “The Uncoupling” (2011) where women in one New Jersey suburb lose their libido. Below, Wolitzer recommends three of her favorite books (old and new) that center on issues around motherhood, marriage and desire. In her words:
1. “Mrs. Bridge” by Evan S. Connell (1959)
The first one I’ve recommended so many times I’d wear the sandwich board for this novel. It is a brilliant 1959 novel. How’s that for hot off the press? It’s about a Kansas City housewife and her life. It’s hilarious and sad and it shows a woman in this time and it’s kind of the book of everything. I first read it when I was growing up. My mother is a novelist and she loved it too and it was a great in-home recommendation.
2. “What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky” by Lesley Nneka Arimah
The second one is a fantastic collection of stories. They are mother and daughter stories. Arimah is a writer who I really really admire. She can write so many different kinds of things… some of the stories even feel like sci-fi.
3. “Florida” by Lauren Groff
And the third one is also a collection of stories, by the great master of the short story: Lauren Groff. She is just a terrific stylist. I believe that sometimes when we talk about books we’re talking about the big picture — how they’re relevant. [Lauren Groff is sometimes described as writing abou the “cult of motherhood“.] But I also love thinking about language and style. And in all of these cases that is a very big part of them.
Meg Wolitzer’s interview with NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown will air on the broadcast soon.