Reading Women on the Social and Psychological Dynamics in Women’s Crime Fiction
This Week from the Reading Women Podcast
In this week’s episode, Kendra and Sumaiyya, with special guest, Abby, discuss crime fiction for October’s theme “She Writes Crime.”
From the episode:
Kendra: Sumaiyya, you chose the “She Writes Crime” theme for October. So I thought I’d start by asking you what drew you to choosing crime fiction.
Sumaiyya: Like I said earlier, I really enjoy reading crime fiction novels, especially psychological thrillers, domestic thrillers, or feminist thrillers in general. I feel like these are fascinating books to read, not just because of the thrill of the mystery and feeling like a detective yourself as a reader, but also because through these books, we actually dive deep into so many issues that are faced by our society, especially violence against women. And I feel like the genre opens up an avenue for discussions and a proper insight into why these crimes happen—what is it that leads human beings to commit such terrible crimes? So I like the psychological aspect of it because we don’t really feel comfortable facing the fact that human beings can be really terrible sometimes.
And I feel like it’s important for us to think about it because it helps you figure out what the issues are and what is it that we can do as individuals. Because every day there is another woman that goes missing or another woman who’s been murdered by her partner or by her significant other. So I feel like crime fiction really allows us to deal with these topics. And while it’s not always easy to read, I feel like the discussions that come out of it are definitely worth the discomfort.
Kendra: I definitely think that the best crime fiction, at least for me, are the books that inspire that kind of thought where you’re sitting down, you’re thinking about society and how these characters came to be there. So for me, I usually am drawn to character-driven in mysteries and thrillers. And it’s not as much as the whodunit as more as like the whydunit, which is something that Paula Hawkins recently said in an interview. And I thought that was very interesting because she was approaching her fiction through her characters as opposed to having a plot already in mind for those characters, which was really interesting. So it was definitely something I was thinking about as I was reading picks for this theme.
Sumaiyya: Yeah, and I feel like this issue of women in particular writing crime novels and how they approach it is something we’ll discuss more of in the next episode for the theme. But I quickly wanted to add that from my experience of reading a wide range of crime novels over the years, written by men and by women, I feel like there’s a lot of complexity in the work written by women because they really do go into the depths of the human psyche and try to understand what motivates people to do something like murder. I feel like the way that female writers write characters or write about men or women in general, regardless of the genre is more complex and layered than compared to when, generally, men write especially about women. So that is definitely something that stands out to me in crime fiction because I feel like people have this perception that crime novels or the genre is male dominated. But the fact is that there’s definitely a trend where women writers are standing out.