Ten Types of Women is set in a small village in Japan and is titled after “Ten Facial Types of Women,” a series of wood-block prints by Kitagawa Utamaro, an 18th century Japanese artist. This series of artworks—and the process of carving images from blocks of wood and then building up a print through multiple layers of ink—serves as metaphor and structural framework in the book. Margaret Underwood travels to Japan most summers beginning in the late 1960s to paint and to study traditional wood-block printing. Maggie is a lesbian, and her very slow recognition and embracing of this self—a fifty-year coming out—is the underlying tale of the novel, which ends with her marriage in 2015 at the age of 80. Ten Types of Women is, in many ways, a contemporary history of the gay rights movement through the personal lens of one woman’s experience. This novel is in revision in early 2018; expected publication, 2019.
Photo by Anita Gratzer
T in her studio at Shiro Oni Residency, Onishi, Japan
A selection of Utamaro prints, Ten Facial Types of Women…. inspiration for the novel.