Here's my review of Michelle Dean's Sharp which is about the ten women writers who changed the NYC intellectual scene (and, therefore, that of the US) in the 20th-century. Dorothy Parker, Rebecca West, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Pauline Kael, Joan Didion, Nora Ephron, Renata Adler, and Janet Malcolm — all earned their intellectual reputations by doing everything the male writers did, but often with more sass, style, and yes, smarts. Readers and writers all over the world still quote from these women's works, many of which continue to stand the test of time.
Over the past couple of years, I've been highlighting an interesting, lesser-known woman on this particular day. Why? Mostly for the same reason that we mark this particular day: to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women. The 2017 theme for IWD is #BeBoldForChange. So, this year, I'd like to share the story of Noor Inayat Khan -- a bold, badass woman I read about last year. She was also featured on Public Radio International earlier this year as the "Indian spy princess who died fighting the Nazis." She was a Muslim. A refugee. A princess. A guerrilla fighter, trained in bomb-making, sabotage and secret communications. But above all, she was a war hero.
First published in 1990, this biography is a rather delicious collection of interwoven anecdotes that take us into the mind and life of a Nobel Prize-winning Indian-American scientist, Chandra (as he was known), spanning decades across India, England, and the US. Those who know anything of this unassuming, quiet, professorial man consider it most remarkable is that he did not win his Nobel till 50+ years after having made his stellar discoveries and practically at the end of his long teaching career. And, in 1999, NASA named their premier X-ray observatory after him.