In 1889, a number of Cambridge students decided to start a periodical discussing student politics and literary efforts, they called it “The Granta”. While Cambridge still has such a periodical (now called River Cam), “The Granta”, turned into “Granta” and in 1979 following a financial crisis it reinvented itself as a literary magazine that states its mission is to convey ”the power and urgency of the story, both in fiction and non-fiction, and the story’s supreme ability to describe, illuminate and make real”.
I first became aware of Granta very recently when I fell upon their 115th issue:
The F-Word. Non mes amis, it is not a four letter word, I was just as surprised as you to learn it actually contained 8 letters. This chers Frenchies is one of the most amazing looks into the female condition in the 20th and 21st Centuries, not from a preaching place, not from a theoretical point of view but rather by diving into the lives and intimate feelings of women of all walks of life, in different countries and situations, this is the most touching and in touch review I have fallen upon in a long time.
Chers Frenchies, if you are wary of another dissertation about feminism, this is not it (sure there are some articles of that type too) but here is a collection of stories, one more beautiful than the other, some painful or pathertic, others heroic, always simply women living their lives.
Whether looking at 230 women in the French Resistance who were caught by the Nazis and sent to Birkenau – how they lived and of the 52 who survived the concentration camp or looking at a male transvestite in India who, when he turns into a woman, is suddenly made conscious of the position of woman in society, alternatively looking at the sexuality of young girls in Africa, the stories are told sometimes as fiction others as documentaries always in a truthful and compassionate tone.
This is not a feminist book as such, in fact while it delves into the problems Feminism has had to tackle it also points to some of the problems with Feminism itself. This book contains beautifully written fiction intertwined with essays and documentaries, giving each reader the freedom to focus on the texts that inspire her most.
The Observer wrote about Granta: “In its blend of memoirs and photojournalism, and in its championing of contemporary realist fiction, Granta has its face pressed firmly against the window, determined to witness the world.’
The F-Word is nothing if not a long and profound look through that window. Each one of us usually only has his or her narrow perspective, F-Word points a flashlight upon the globe, bringing new perspectives into our line of sight.
Open your eyes, look through that window and you may be surprised by some of those stories and perspectives that you had never even thought about. You do not need to be a feminist or even approve of it, to enjoy some of the stories perhaps, just learn about people who gave their lives for our freedom, or enjoy a good piece of writing.
Buy Granta: http://www.granta.com/Shop
About the Granta Sex issue: http://www.sheisfrench.com/reading-granta/romance/