Book Club

DECEMBER-JANUARY SELECTIONS

Our Women on the Ground

Anthology by Zahra Hankir

A growing number of intrepid Arab and Middle Eastern sahafiyat—female journalists—are working to shape nuanced narratives about their changing homelands, often risking their lives on the front lines of war. From sexual harassment on the streets of Cairo to the difficulty of traveling without a male relative in Yemen, their challenges are unique—as are their advantages, such as being able to speak candidly with other women at a Syrian medical clinic or with men on Whatsapp who will go on to become ISIS fighters. 
 

In Our Women on the Ground, 19 of these women tell us, in their own words, about what it’s like to report on conflicts that (quite literally) hit close to home. Their daring and heartfelt stories, told here for the first time, shatter stereotypes about the region’s women and provide an urgently needed perspective on a part of the world that is frequently misunderstood.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982: A Novel

Cho Nam-joo

A fierce international bestseller that launched Korea’s new feminist movement, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 follows one woman’s psychic deterioration in the face of rigid misogyny. In a small, tidy apartment on the outskirts of Seoul lives Kim Jiyoung. A 30-something “millennial everywoman,” she recently left her white-collar desk job to care for her newborn daughter full-time, as so many Korean women are expected to do. But she quickly begins to exhibit strange symptoms that alarm her husband, parents, and in-laws: Jiyoung impersonates the voices of other women―alive and even dead, both known and unknown to her. As she plunges 

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In a chilling, eerily truncated third-person voice, Jiyoung’s entire life is recounted to the psychiatrist―a narrative infused with disparate elements of frustration, perseverance, and submission. Always, her behavior is policed by the male figures around her―from the elementary school teachers who enforce strict uniforms for girls, to the coworkers who install a hidden camera in the women’s restroom and post their photos online. In her father’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s fault that men harass her late at night; in her husband’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s duty to forsake her career to take care of him and their child―to put them first. Her painfully common life is juxtaposed against a backdrop of an advancing Korea, as it abandons “family planning” birth control policies and passes new legislation against gender discrimination. But can her doctor cure her, or even discover what truly ails her?

deeper into this psychosis, her discomfited husband sends her to a male psychiatrist.

A Girl is a Body of Water 

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

In her thirteenth year, Kirabo confronts a piercing question that has haunted her childhood: who is my mother? Kirabo has been raised by women in the small Ugandan village of Nattetta―her grandmother, her best friend, and her many aunts―but the absence of her mother follows her like a shadow. Complicating these feelings of abandonment, as Kirabo comes of age she feels the emergence of a mysterious second self, a headstrong and confusing force inside her at odds with her sweet and obedient nature.

All are welcome to join our book club! We read one book every two months and alternate between week days and weekends so all members can attend. Books with feminist themes are chosen by a member vote, and we discuss and debate the works over snacks and beverages. It's fun, free, and socially distanced!

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PREVIOUS SELECTIONS

Seeking answers, Kirabo begins spending afternoons with Nsuuta, the local witch, trading stories and learning not only about this force inside her, but about the woman who birthed her, who she learns is alive but not ready to meet. Nsuuta also explains that Kirabo has a streak of the “first woman”―an independent, original state that has been all but lost to women. Kirabo’s journey to reconcile her rebellious origins, alongside her desire to reconnect with her mother and to honor her family’s expectations, is rich in the folklore of Uganda and an arresting exploration of what it means to be a modern girl in a world that seems determined to silence women. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s unforgettable novel is a sweeping testament to the true and lasting connections between history, tradition, family, friends, and the promise of a different future.

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