The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Set in a near dystopian future, this hugely influential novel follows Offred, a handmaid to an important official in the fictional Republic of Gilead, there to provide him and his wife with children. The book explores social control, race and politics as well as gender and 30 years after its publication, the story remains powerfully resonant and a kind of banner call for feminist fiction.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Walker’s Pulitzer-winning novel is set in Georgia in the 1930s and looks at the sexism and racism heroine Celie faces as a black woman. A violent, confronting but ultimately uplifting novel of sisterhood and triumph over awful prejudice that remains powerful today for it’s call to recognise the power of your own voice.