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Do Strong Women Written by Men Exist, and is that Even the Real Question?

The first person who recommended me a book was no less than Blair Waldorf: in season 3, episode 13 of Gossip Girl, she was all dressed up like Anna Karenina to meet Chuck. And, as a 13-year-old, I just got it when she roasted Nate for not knowing who she was. She didn't even care that she was wearing lingerie, waiting for Chuck.

I didn't support all the aspects of Blair's personality, but I did admire how she handled being the show's fashion icon (stereotypically a vapid, unintelligent character) and the smart one. She used to switch between Chanel's catalogues and the classics on her silk blanket.

So, inspired by her taste, here are some book recommendations of books with strong women written by men.

P.S. This is a Russian roulette of happy endings, so you'll have to read to find out which ones end well and which ones don't.

Ana Karenina, Liev Tolstoi

Ana shows us the ability to do what she wants in her heart, even if it goes against an entire society. We empathise with her, then admire her courage and love. The story is about two couples, and it switches the point of view between the chapters — a lot of chapters. She has her beliefs so strongly rooted in her mind that she goes through a lot of sacrifices to prove her point of view.

Resurrection, Liev Tolstoi

By the same writer, the book talks about justice, Russia's prison system and the (unfair) role of women in society. The book conveys the idea that great revolutions are more than a great collective act, as they begin individually.

P.S. Russians are interesting people. The characters usually have more than one name, I believe it’s a cultural thing where they have some kind of… nicknames…

Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez

'Fiorentino Ariza had the answer prepared for fifty-three years, seven months and eleven days.'

Fermina Daza has so much strength, and (in my humble opinion) is very funny. The story is beautiful, and Gabriel García Márquez has beautiful writing over the tropical sky of Cartagena. There comes a point in the story where Fermina starts to make you laugh with her decisive way of being.

Blindness, Jose Saramago

– 'I don't think we did go blind, I think we are blind.

– Blind but seeing?

– Blind people who can see, but do not see.'

You will find that at the end of Blindness by Jose Saramago. There are no names in this book, something that's confusing at first glance, but something you quickly come to grasp. Instead, people are called by their characteristics or something that happened to them. But this makes characters easier to memorise, and the dystopian metaphor around the book turns around a blind epidemic, but you gotta have your eyes opened.

So… The real answer isn’t if strong women written by men exist, but how these characters affect their own world and the readers'. It’s about how they touch things, and what happens to them — not if a man wrote them.

Written by Maria Lorenzo

Edited by Lucy Eaton


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