Rediscover: The Golden Notebook
Doris Lessing's life was as fragmented as her most famous novel, The Golden Notebook. Lessing (1919-2013) was born in Iran to British parents, moved to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1925, then to London in 1949. She was a communist who grew disillusioned with the Soviet Union, an anti-racism and anti-Apartheid activist, and an acclaimed fiction writer. In 2007, she became the oldest person, and only the 11th woman, to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Her body of work ranges from deeply personal stories to far-flung cosmic sci-fi and future dystopias. Her first novel, The Grass Is Singing (1950), explores racial tensions in Southern Rhodesia through the murder of a white woman by her black servant.
Lessing's third and best-known novel is The Golden Notebook (1962), a post-modern construction of four narratives with anti-Stalinist, anti-war and feminist themes. It follows writer Anna Wulf's attempts to consolidate four colorful notebooks into a fifth golden one: black covers her early years in Africa, red her experiences with communism, yellow is the draft of an autobiographical novel, and blue is a personal diary. Though The Golden Notebook is often heralded as an example of feminist fiction, Lessing felt her depiction of Anna's breakdown, fragmentation and attempt to piece herself back together was more important. The Golden Notebook was last published in 2008 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics ($18.99, 9780061582486). --Tobias Mutter