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Dear Gay Talese: The Official Team THINX Suggested Reading List

Written and Assembled by Kelsey Duchesne & Team THINX

Last weekend, American author Gay Talese spoke to a room of 600 people at The Power of the Narrative conference, held by Boston University. When asked what female writers have inspired him, Talese answered with a simple, yet deafening “None.”  Yikes. Talese (painfully) continued and clarified, stating that at the time female writers were simply not interested  in talking to  “uneducated” or “anti-social” people, therefore, their reporting was entirely centered around educated subjects. Again-- yikes.  

After intense social media backlash, Talese contacted the Boston Globe and attempted to clarifying his comments, and restated that yes, no female journalists inspired him early in his career, but since then he has greatly admired female writers. In the Globe article, written by Shirley Leung, the interview style tactic of the talk was questioned, as Talese was not prompted with any follow up questions where he could elaborate and talk about the female  writers and journalists he admires now.

While I greatly appreciate Talese’s follow-up, myself and the entire THINX team would still like to recommend some female writers that have inspired us, and urge him (and our readers!) to check ‘em out.

  • Alice Walker
  • Anais Nin
  • Anna Akhmatova
  • Beverly Cleary
  • Brene Brown
  • Carson McCullers
  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Cheryl Strayed
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Cynthia Enloe
  • Donna Tartt
  • Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Gloria Anzaldua
  • Gloria Steinem
  • Hilary Mantel
  • Isabel Allende
  • Jane Austen
  • Jeannette Walls
  • Jhumpa Lahiri
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Joan Didion
  • Marilyn Robinson
  • Mary Oliver
  • Maxine Hong Kingston
  • Mia Alvar
  • Miranda July
  • Nora Ephron
  • Patti Smith
  • Roxanne Gay
  • Sheila Heti
  • Shonda Rhimes
  • Susan Sontag
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Toni Morrisen
  • Zadie Smith

It’s not that we don’t believe Talese is well-read, or that he does, in fact, admire female writers-- but we would like him to see what talented women have inspired us. Maybe next time Talese gets asked a similar question, he can find a more elaborate answer than “none.” Maybe he will feel compelled enough to elaborate on the women that have inspired him since becoming a reporter over 60 years ago, rather than talking about the weaknesses in female reporters.

Oh, and his comment about women being afraid to talk to strangers? It sounds like he needs to watch our short documentary, The Week,  where our She-E-O Miki asks men questions about periods. Perhaps he will be inspired by her as well. :)

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