Our November Pick: The Diary of Frida Kahlo by Carlos Fuentes

For the month of November, our book club pick is The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait by Carlos Fuentes. The book is, indeed, an intimate self-portrait. The journal is filled with illustrations, poems, and thoughts that allow readers a peek into her mind and the inspiration behind her art. This "free-form arrangement of the diary," writes Kathryn Hughes of The Telegraph, "allowed Kahlo to play and comment on ideas in a way that was not possible in her finished pictures. In these pages nothing is at stake as the images are for her eyes only."

From Another Magazine: "One of the most revered and radical artists of the twentieth century, Kahlo has been the subject of many brilliant books over the years but what is most interesting and moving about her diary in its published form is that it was never meant for public consumption, intended instead as 'journal in time', a private record written by a woman for herself, about herself. Thus as you rifle through the vibrant pages (helpfully translated at the back of the book), complete with beautiful self-portraits and deeply personal declarations – "DIEGO. Estoy sola" ("Diego. I'm alone") particularly resonates – you can't help but feel an intimacy with and understanding of Kahlo that only as uniquely voyeuristic a work as this could allow."

From Goodreads:

Published here in its entirety, Frida Kahlo's amazing illustrated journal documents the last ten years of her turbulent life. This passionate, often surprising, intimate record, kept under lock and key for some forty years in Mexico, reveals many new dimensions in the complex persona of this remarkable Mexican artist.

Covering the years 1944-45, the 170-page journal contains Frida's thoughts, poems, and dreams, and reflects her stormy relationship with her husband, Diego Rivera, Mexico's famous artist. The seventy watercolor illustrations in the journal - some lively sketches, several elegant self-portraits, others complete paintings - offer insights into her creative process, and show her frequently using the journal to work out pictorial ideas for her canvases.

The text entries, written in Frida's round, full script in brightly colored inks, add an almost decorative quality, making the journal as captivating to look at as it is to read. Frida's childhood, her political sensibilities, and her obsession with Diego are all illuminated in witty phrases and haunting images.

Although much has been written recently about this extraordinary woman, Frida Kahlo's art and life continue to fascinate the world. This personal document, published in a complete full-color facsimile edition, will add greatly to the understanding of her unique and powerful vision and her enormous courage in the face of more than thirty-five operations to correct injuries she had sustained in an accident at the age of eighteen. The facsimile is accompanied by an introduction by the world-renowned Mexican man of letters Carlos Fuentes and a complete translation of the diary's text. An essay on the place of the diary in Frida's work and in art history at large, as well as commentaries on the images, is provided by Sarah M. Lowe.

TOFemCo Book Club
TOFemCo Book Club 14 members
TOFemCo [tee-oh-fem-co], also known as Toronto Feminist Collective, is a group of women and non-binary identified people who are passionate about intersectional feminism. We are rooted in the heart of Toronto. TOFemCo first began in spring 2015 as a book club where feminists who like to read could discuss a variety of books using a feminist lens and a sense of humour. Since then, we have grown into a community that supports each other, shares communal meals at monthly potlucks, plans social gatherings for Toronto feminists, and attends community and activist events. Members of TOFemCo are the hosts of the podcast Underwire: Support for the Girls. In our book club, we read a variety of books by a diverse group of authors. We strive to be a trans-inclusive, queer-positive, anti-racist and anti-oppressive space for all feminists who are interested in good reads, good conversations and good laughs. We do not shy away from controversial issues or debates, as long as the conversation is respectful of others.

Books we've read

Milk and Honey
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth
The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait
The Complete Persepolis
The House on Mango Street
The House of the Spirits
Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman
My Brilliant Friend
The Round House


View this group on Goodreads »