Folkpunk 101

A Reading List by Tanya B. Avakian

In the spirit of a college syllabus, I am offering a reading list of what I consider to be basic materials pertaining to the modern world’s creative struggle with its folkloric heritage. An acquaintance with these works will not only provide a real grounding in the topic, but a quick and sometimes dirty guide to the twentieth century. Many are fiction, some are nonfiction, and some are poetry. These categories are by no means distinct. Likewise, the selections represent what is very much a personal choice on my part, just as the syllabus reflects the compiler’s sense of what is important to know. Others, reading the list, will think of obvious examples that are not listed. The sources listed here do, however, have one thing in common, in that I intend to write about each of them over time for Cabinet des Fées. Readers who can think of glaring omissions are encouraged to submit their own reviews, just as readers of a syllabus will get creative on their term papers.

There is one deliberate omission: the cultures represented by these sources are either white, according to the present-day construction of whiteness, or Middle Eastern, since these are the only two cultures I feel I know well enough to critique. With one exception (Keri Hulme’s The Bone People, since it deals with whiteness significantly as well as with Maori culture), I have chosen not to review works by authors of African-American, Native American, Asian, or Hispanic background, preferring to leave those to reviewers of color. This has been a difficult decision to make, given that a Folkpunk 101 list without, say, Beloved, The Woman Warrior, or The Almanac of the Dead is necessarily a shadow of what it should be in a perfect world. The answer is that reading any one of these books will tell you that the world is far from perfect and the best we can do in view of this fact is to behave appropriately and not appropriatively. However, I am in the process of compiling an annotated list of science fiction and fantasy authors of color for the Carl Brandon society website ( and a link will be provided here when that is ready. Reviewers are encouraged to augment the Folkpunk 101 Reading List with selections from some of this century’s and the last’s most important folkloric sources.

Arthur Machen. The Great God Pan.
____________. The White People.
W. B. Yeats. Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.
Robert Graves. The White Goddess.
Katharine M. Briggs. An Encyclopedia of Fairies.
Marion Zimmer Bradley. The Mists of Avalon.
T. H. White. The Sword in the Stone.
Andrew Lang. Prince Prigio and the Colour Fairy Book series.
Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy. The Polarization of the Feminine in Arthurian and Troubadour Literature. (Dissertation.)
Alberto Manguel. The Dictionary of Imaginary Places.
Ursula K. Le Guin. The Language of the Night.
______________. Dancing at the Edge of the World.
Margaret Atwood. Negotiating with the Dead.
______________. The Robber Bride.
______________. Surfacing.
______________. Cat’s Eye.
Joyce Carol Oates. Night-Side.
Iris Murdoch. The Sea, the Sea.
John Crowley. Little, Big.
ShirleyJackson. The Lottery.
Rhea Cote Robbins, ed. Canuck and Other Stories.
Francine Prose. Judah the Pious.
____________. Household Saints.
____________. Hungry Hearts.
____________. The Glorious Ones.
____________. Marie Laveau.
S. An-Sky. The Dybbuk.
Joachim Neugroschel. Yenne Velt: The Great Works of Jewish Fantasyand the Occult.
Isaac Bashevis Singer. Collected Stories. Library of America edition.
Elie Wiesel. Souls on Fire.
Dov Noy, et al. Folktales of the Jews: Tales from Eastern Europe.
___________. Folktales of the Jews: Tales from the Sephardic Dispersion.
Marguerite Yourcenar. Oriental Tales.
Joanna Kadi. Food for Our Grandmothers: Writings by Arab-American and Arab-Canadian Feminists.
Ann-Marie MacDonald. Fall On Your Knees.
Zabelle Boyajian. Armenian Legends and Poems.
Susie Hoogasian Villa. 100 Armenian Tales.
_________________. Armenian Village Life Before 1914.
Vera Nazarian. Dreams of the Compass Rose.
____________. Salt of the Air.
____________. The Duke in His Castle.
Keri Hulme. The Bone People.
Carolyn Forche. Gathering the Tribes.
____________. The Country Between Us.
____________. Blue Hour.
Stevie Smith. Collected Poems.
Anne Sexton. Transformations.
Ted Hughes. Collected Poems.
Sylvia Plath. Ariel.
Meghan Lindholm. Cloven Hooves.
Tove Jansson. The Moomin series, beginning with Finn Family Moomintroll and continuing with many titles.
Michel Tournier. The Ogre.
Greer Ilene Gilman. Moonwise.
Pamela Dean, Tam Lin.
Emma Bull. War for the Oaks.
Ellen Kushner. Thomas the Rhymer.
Susan Cooper. The Dark is Rising series.
Diana Wynne Jones. Howl’s Moving Castle and many other titles.
Alan Garner. The Owl Service.
Jessica Amanda Salmonson. Wisewomen and Boggy-boos.
_______________________. Tomoe Gozen series.
_______________________. A Silver Thread of Madness.
_______________________. In the Deep Museum.
Sarah Monette. Melusine series.
Edward Armstrong. The Folklore of Birds.
Beryl Rowland. Animals with Human Faces.
___________. Birds with Human Souls.
Richard Adams. The Girl in a Swing.