As my internship with CambridgeEditors comes to an end, I wanted to reflect on the women who inspired me to get here. In high school English classes, I was primarily introduced to white, male authors, who I enjoyed but had no connection to. As my career and passion for the literary world progresses, I feel it is only appropriate to discuss the female authors that made me want to keep going.
It all started with Joyce Carol Oates and her hauntingly beautiful writing, particularly in her short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and her novel We Were the Mulvaneys. With her portrayal of teenage culture in a young woman’s life and discussions of sexual harassment and assault, Oates helped me understand that my feelings are not only valid but important. An incredibly prolific author, Oates has written plays, poetry, short fiction, and fifty eight novels. She is in her early eighties, and as she continues to write, she continues to amaze me.
Next came Zadie Smith. Her first novel, White Teeth, portrayed a Bangladeshi family and a biracial family living in London in the 70s. She discussed the Bangladeshi family’s strong ties to Islam, and by doing so she made me realize that my Palestinian heritage was something to be written about. After the booming success of White Teeth, Smith went on to write topical essays for the New Yorker, short fiction, and multiple novels.
My love for Oates’s depiction of womanhood and Smith’s emphasis on the importance of heritage led me to perhaps my most favorite author of all time, Louise Erdrich. A Native American author, Erdrich’s novels typically take place on reservations; my favorite book by her, The Round House, is set on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. The novel explores rape against Native women, coming of age stories, and the desire for justice in the Native American community. Erdrich has continued to write multiple novels and currently owns Birchbark Books, an independent bookstore in Minneapolis focusing on Native American Literature.
I am deeply grateful for the women who inspired me to study literature, and I am equally grateful for the women I was privileged enough to work with this summer: my fellow intern, Amala, Founder of CambridgeEditors, Dr. Weiner, and CambridgeEditors’ Administrative and Editor Manager, Lexie. My summer of collaborating with three of the most intelligent and determined women I know will forever hold a place in my heart, and I will always look back on it fondly. As Joyce Carol Oates said in After the Wreck, I Picked Myself Up, Spread My Wings, and Flew Away, “See, people come into your life for a reason. They might not know it themselves, why. You might not know it. But there’s a reason. There has to be.”