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The F Word Feminism Granta 115 - book review

Titled “The F Word,” Granta’s latest issue grapples with Feminism.Like with any theme it chooses how could Granta make an issue about Feminism appeal to all of its readership?  Also, what approach would it take to such an interpretive subject matter that if anything is currently going through another evolutionary phase? Would it encompass the style of Granta with travelogue and not a little politics? Granta, not noted for its humour, could simply stay within the confines of opaque literary memoir.Any attempt at humour is restricted to the wandering "night thoughts" of Helen Simpson which felt rather meandering in its attempt to subvert the role of men and women rather than a deep cursive incision.Francine Pose fares somewhat better in her journey through women's groups and how they not always what they appear to be.The magazine opens with two cultural stories based on the experiences of women beyond the readership of Granta.  Julie Otsuka’s “The Children” and Taiye Selasi’s “The Sex Lives of African Girls” is a slightly tame story in Ghana looking at subtle male domination from a girl's view. Although there is some violence it lacks direction.  Otsuka's is more gritty in its depiction of children's lives in far eastern rural villages.The non-fiction proved stronger with a couple of revealing insights into corners of our world.  Caroline Moorehead’s “A Train in Winter” about French women resistance in Nazi death camps left me fascinated and clamouring for more about such a hidden fact of history.Although rather longer than it needed to be Urvashi Butalia‘s account of an ostracized transgendered woman in India (“Mona’s Story”) was uplifting.Whilst it is a positive that feminism is given a special issue with many aspects covered. But I could not help feeling I needed sharper insight, more radical thought.

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