When Open Culture recently published Jorge Luis Borges’ self-compiled list of 74 ‘great works of literature’, commissioned by Argentine publisher Hyspamerica, I, along with many others, saw one glaring issue in the otherwise fantastically diverse list: it included no works by female writers.
Whether intentional or not, the fact that women are excluded from Borges’ noteworthies (and in 1985, no less) means that a vast number of historically and culturally significant books and writings have been overlooked. While this ought not to discredit the works listed in any way, after witnessing the immense popularity of Borges’ list I certainly felt that for his selection to be relevant today it needed to be accompanied by a list of works which had been overlooked due to the gender of their respective authors.
I decided to put a suggestion to a group of international women writers, artists and curators, and we compiled our own list of 74 ‘great works of literature’ — one just as varied, loose and substantial as that of Borges, but made up solely of writers identifying as women or non-gender-binary. Over two days we amassed many suggestions, which I’ve now curated to form the list below. It’s not intended to invalidate the original, but rather to serve as an accompaniment to highlight and encourage a dialogue on gender imbalances in creative and intellectual realms, as well as to provide a balance by actively ‘equalising’ that of Jorge Luis Borges.