I want to share an article with you. It was written by Koa Beck and published in The Atlantic on December 31, 2015. I was directed to it for work reasons earlier this spring and have read it several times since. I think I learn something new every time. So now it’s your turn. Let me know what you think.
Female Characters Don’t Have to be Likeable
Several novels this year starred female protagonists as flawed and interesting as literature’s most memorable male characters.
Shortly after Jill Alexander Essbaum’s novel Hausfrau was published in the spring, the New York Times book critic Janet Maslin dismissed the novel on the basis of the main female character being an “insufferable American narcissist.” The story, a modern Anna Karenina–Madame Bovary hybrid set in a suburb of Zürich, features a compulsively unfaithful housewife named Anna. While Maslin wasn’t a fan of Essbaum’s writing (which she compared to “a sink full of dishwater”), her criticism lingered on Anna’s unsavory traits. “This may be hard to believe, but Anna becomes even more myopic and selfish in the book’s later stages,” Maslin wrote. “[Anna’s husband] becomes more interesting, she grows less so, and still she snivels at center stage, whining about her bad luck and mistreatment.”