Monday, June 19, 2023

Eleven westerns that break the genre's rules

Claudia Cravens grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a BA in Literature from Bard College and is a graduate of Catapult's Twelve-Month Novel Generator.

Lucky Red is her first novel.

At Publishers Weekly Cravens tagged eleven "subversive works [in which] people who are often denied agency in traditional westerns—women, people of color, LGBTQ people—insist on telling their own stories." One title on the list:
Outlawed by Anna North

Married to a man she loves and devoted to her work as an apprentice to her mother, a respected midwife, 17-year-old Ada’s future looks bright. But in this alternate-historical United States, a woman’s fertility is her highest virtue; when a year of marriage passes with no pregnancy for Ada, she must flee town or risk being hanged as a witch. She joins the Hole in the Wall Gang, led by a charismatic former preacher known as The Kid, and they set out to change the future for women like her. While the setting gives Outlawed a bit of Handmaid’s Tale flavor, it also throws the disposability of women in typical westerns into sharp relief. Ada’s faith in herself and her own intelligence pushes back hard against typical tropes of homesteaders’ wives as meek helpmates, placing women’s experiences of their own bodies front and center.
Read about another entry on the list.

Outlawed is among Robin McLean's eight top books about surviving in the wilderness and Christina Sweeney-Baird's seven books that imagine a world without men.

The Page 69 Test: Outlawed.

--Marshal Zeringue