I have read a number of novels in the past few years that focus on women grappling with an impossibility. The impossibility that I have found the most, and found most fascinating, is the impossibility of creating art that men will comprehend. There also appears the more prosaic impossibility of legibly existing.
Some of these books are possible or likely autofiction, that is fiction that draws heavily on the author’s own biography. This label sometimes seems foisted onto novels by women, as if to dismiss their capacity for invention. That art by women about the impossibility of art by women should fall into this (artless?) genre doesn’t strike me as ironic. I think it is entirely on purpose.
- I Love Dick, Chris Kraus
- How Should a Person Be?, Sheila Heti
- My Brilliant Friend etc (“The Neapolitan Novels”), Elena Ferrante
- The Flamethrowers, Rachel Kushner
Recommendations in this vein I have received but not read yet:
- The Idiot, Elif Batuman
- Outline etc, Rachel Cusk