5 Graphic novels for International Women’s Day

Giveaway now closed.

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Happy International Women’s Day. Hurrah for all the brilliant women out there, yes, that includes you. To help celebrate the day, I’ve gone against convention and invited a man on the blog. I know, it’s outrageous. What happened was this: Will Rycroft, the brilliant Community Manager at Vintage Books, who some of you will know from the Vintage Vlog, suggested we do a vlog for International Women’s Day. So we did and you can watch it here. On it, I recommend to Will five fantastic books by women writers from marginalised backgrounds. In return, I asked Will for a recommendation or two as well…

Before we even start, this post isn’t ‘Will mansplains graphic novels’! When I was chatting with Naomi about International Women’s Day she pointed out that in her reading of female authors she had a small blind spot: graphic novels and this got me excited. I love graphic novels and if there’s one thing worth celebrating in the world of graphic novels it’s the fact that female writers are producing some of the most fantastic work and that the UK in particular has several female artists worth getting very excited about. Choosing just five books to put before you today was tough, there are so many that I’d like to mention, but I hope this selection gives a nice variety of tone and style and will introduce you to authors you may not have read before. It goes without saying (although here I am saying it) that Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel classic that would fit the bill here but after Emma Watson chose it for Our Shared Shelf, her feminist book club, I figured it’s one you may have read already. But if you haven’t, then you must, it’s brilliant.

Heathcote

Sally Heathcote: Suffragette
Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth

Bryan Talbot is the godfather of the British graphic novel scene and, working together with his wife, Mary, has been producing graphic biographies or histories to tell the stories of lesser-known figures. Sally Heathcote may be fictional but she meets plenty of the real figures from the Suffragette movement in this book which puts you right in the entre of women’s fight for equality. You can hear the authors talking about the book in this edition of the Vintage Podcast.

Fun Home

Fun Home
Alison Bechdel

You may recognise the name Bechdel from the Bechdel Test, which a movie only passes if it features two female characters having a conversation about something other than a man – as featured in her comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For below.

Bechdel Test

Given that, it may seem strange to highlight this graphic memoir about her father but Fun Home is a brilliant exploration of family dynamics, homosexuality and the literature that makes us. For anyone struggling to tell their family or others about their own sexuality this is a must read. And if you love it then there’s her follow-up, Are You My Mother?, to enjoy afterwards, telling the other side of the family story.

Hero

The One Hundred Nights of Hero
Isabel Greenberg

There is nothing not to like about this wonderful feminist fairy tale. Beautifully illustrated and featuring the story of two women united in their love for each other, for storytelling, and their resilience against the plotting of dastardly men, it’s a joy from first page to last. Absolutely perfect for YA readers too; it takes its inspiration from Scheherazade and the storytelling of 1001 Nights to weave a patchwork that involves love in many forms but perhaps most strongly that of female friendship.

Modan

The Property
Rutu Modan (trans. Jessica Cohen)

Some people don’t like the term graphic novel, it sounds a bit pretentious, but sometimes a graphic work contains exactly the kind of complexity that you would expect to find in a traditional novel. This book does exactly that whilst also retaining a simplicity of style that makes it easy to enjoy. A woman travels to Warsaw with her grandmother to reclaim a property lost during WWII. There’s humour to be had with officious bureaucracy and meddlesome relatives but there is also a touching secret from the past, as well as a burgeoning relationship for our young narrator. To bring such a light touch to important themes and history marks Modan out as a uniquely skilful artist and writer.

Thesis

Notes on a Thesis
Tiphaine Rivière (trans, Francesca Barrie)

If you have ever struggled to hand in an assignment, dissertation or even just your tax return on time then you are going to cringe in recognition when reading this hilarious and painful tale of one woman aiming for a PhD. Beginning with enthusiasm but slowly bending under the weight, the labour and the obstacles of modern academia, we follow our heroine as she desperately tries to complete her work on Kafka. Almost everyone will recognise their own struggles here and it’s the kind of book that may make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

All five of these books feature in this article, which also highlights five more classic feminist texts.

A huge thanks to Will for introducing me – and maybe you too – to these five graphic novels. I’ve been reading my way through them and they’re absolutely wonderful. Although, Notes on A Thesis is so accurate, I had to have a lie down in a darkened room after reading it.

But that’s not all…Vintage have kindly given me a copy of each of these five graphic novels to give away. To win, all you have to do is leave a comment below saying which graphic novel you’d like to win and why. You can enter for more than one book if you wish. The giveaway is U.K. only (sorry) and will close at 5pm U.K. time on Sunday 12th March. Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email.

Giveaway winners

I allocated everyone a number, in order of posting, for each book they asked to be considered for and put them through a random number generator, which came up with the following winners:

Sally Heathcote: Suffragette – Anarmchairbythesea
Fun House – yatiekates
The One Hundred Nights of Hero – snoakes7001
The Property – Rebecca Foster
Notes on a Thesis – Joseph

Congratulations to all the winners; check your email for what to do next. Thank you to everyone who entered, I hope you discovered something new and wonderful to read regardless.

Thanks to Will and Vintage Books for the guest post and the giveaway.

48 thoughts on “5 Graphic novels for International Women’s Day

  1. Thank you so much for the recommendations – I love trying graphic novels and now I have five more to add to my wish list! If I had to pick one I think The One Hundred Nights of Hero sounds absolutely fabulous! I loved reading A Necklace of Raindrops by Joan Aiken when I was younger and that sounds like a more modern, grown-up version!

    • I haven’t heard of that Joan Aiken, now I’ve got a recommendation to look up! And good choice on the graphic novel, I loved it.

  2. I may be late to the party but I’ve become a huge fan of graphic novels, and have delighted in the creative ways even heavy subject matter can be delivered with both sensitivity and monumental impact through the medium. My dilemma would be which to choose, when I want ALL of them, but as a good friend of mine is currently mired in the writing-up phase of her Phd while also negotiating four children, 2 dogs, pigs, chickens, a cow and a husband, I’m picking ‘Notes on a Thesis’ – it might just bring a smile to her furrowed brow! 🙂

  3. I’ve gotten into graphic novels a lot more over the last 5 years or so, especially ones in translation. I absolutely love Alison Bechdel’s work, but the rest of these are unfamiliar to me. I’d most like to win The Property by Rutu Modan.

  4. A fabulous post – graphic novels also pass me by. I’d love to win The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg – because it sounds beautiful – and also because I can’t get it from my local library! I’ve already ordered The Property.

  5. Great learning about Graphic Novels, I too have a blind spot, having only read Persepolis and Tamara Drew, so would love to win one. As a fellow doctoral researcher, Notes on a Thesis, would be my first choice and The Property, my second.

  6. Great recommendations! I read graphic novels and I’ve still only managed to read Fun Home of this list! I’d love Sally Heathcote – I’ve been picking it up and putting it down again for ages now!

  7. I’d love to win either The One Hundred Nights of Hero or Suffragette. I’ve read one of the Talbots book, but have never read Greenberg. I love graphic novels (I’ve read Fun Home and another of Rutu Modan’s book) so I’m always on the look out for good ones I have not read 🙂

  8. Fantastic recommendations! I love Fun Home and Are You My Mother so very much <3 I would love to win The One Hundred Nights of Hero because I've wanted it for so long, but just can't afford it 🙁

  9. I’d love to read Fun Home or The One Hundred Nights of Hero! I’m a graphic novel amateur myself but I do like to learn.

  10. Loved the Bechdel and have been wanting to read the Greenberg. I think Thi Bui’s “The Best We Could Do” would also be at home on this list. Thank you for the recommendations!

  11. I love fun Home, what a great book. Haven’t had chance to pick up any of the other four yet. One Hundred Nights of Hero is absolutely stunning though, Greenberg’s art is amazing. Theres a great video of her painting that I saw a while back. I recommend looking for it, her work is so elegant!

  12. One Hundred nights on Hero is on my TBR. I have half read the Alison Bechdel. I think it was not a personal copy and that is why I had to leave it midway. I am eager to read the rest of the books mentioned.

  13. I’m only just starting to get into graphic novels and loved Persepolis. I’m not really into the superhero stories so these are some wonderful recommendations for me to look into, thanks! 🙂

  14. I’ve never read a graphic novel and so think The Property is the one I would most like to win, but any of them would be a start to hopefully a new love for me!

  15. I’ve recently for back into graphic novels and I’m interested in looking at and for books with/about women. As much as I’d love all of these, I think Sally Heathcoate: Suffragette ticks all of my bookish boxes!

  16. One Hundred nights of Hero sounds wonderful and the perfect start for a graphic novel virgin. 🙏🏻 I have to say though that Sally Heathcote: Suffragette also piqued my interest so I’m going to duly add that to my tbr.

  17. All added to my tbr! I’ve seen one hundred nights of hero in book stores and look at how pretty it is every time. So I’d love to win that one! Also never heard of notes on a thesis before but it looks like it would give proper flashbacks so that would awesome to try too.

  18. I’d love to win Suffragette. I got into reading graphic novels last year thanks to a recommendation from a student and I’m so glad I followed her advice. I’m reading Nimona at the moment and loving it.

  19. I’d like to win Greenberg’s The One Hundred Nights of Hero for my daughter, Cassandra. She is headed for college this September and torn between friends she is leaving behind and the daunting but exciting reality of having to start again. A strong story of female friendship is perfect for her.

  20. Hello!

    This was such a great blog post, I’ve never read a graphic novel but these recommendation seem like a great start. Notes on a Thesis sounds amazing and pretty relatable! I love to read books that make me laugh and remind me of experiences I’ve been through and Notes on a Thesis would be a great way to finally start reading graphic novels! 🙂

  21. It has to be ‘the one hundred nights of hero’ as who doesn’t love a feminist fairytale? What a great post. Adding the rest of titles to my list right now

  22. I’ve read and enjoyed the Bechdel, the others all sound really interesting, but I think I’d most like to win The One Hundred Nights of Hero, although I’d also be happy with Suffragette. As someone who left academia during a masters, I think Notes On A Thesis might be too close to the bone!

  23. I would be delighted if I won Suffragette! I have never really read any graphic novels (other than Buffy), but I really want to get into them, it’s just hard when you don’t know where to start, but Sufragette seems like the perfect blend! So thank you for this list, I am really excited about checking them out!

  24. Oh my gosh these all look amazing Fun Home and The One Thousand Nights of Hero have both been on my TBR for ages though as I’ve heard amazing things about both. So I’d like to enter to win either of those please and thank you x

  25. I’ve been wanting to try out some graphic novels but didn’t know where to start so thanks for the recommendations. I love the sound of The Property so I can discover a history and country Im not familiar with.

  26. I’d like to win Notes on a Thesis because I’m about to start writing mine and would love the comfort.

  27. I’d love to read The Property. (Notes on a Thesis sounds fantastic too) I’ve read Fun Home, the others are something to keep an eye out for. Great competition and recommendations.

  28. Fantastic choice. Although I haven’t read any of them, top of the list would be Sally Heathcote: Suffragette. Mary Talbot is brilliant, particularly Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes. Great blog, by the way!

  29. Truly fab recommendations that I can’t wait to sink into! I’m really keen on The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg. As someone who’s just moved from the sands of Arabia, this would be an inventive twist to Scheherazade’s tale – a whole new level of amazing storytelling. Shukran!

  30. The only graphic novel I’ve read is Persepolis so lovely to get some more recommendations. The one I’d most like to read is Suffragette as I recently realised how little I know about these incredible women.

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