Here are your New Reads for the Rest of Us for April 2019!
Since I've begun a regular column over at Ms. Magazine, I've been posting the Reads for the Rest of Us that I am most excited about there. Reads for the Rest of Us here used to be everything I found being published by women that I could find. Over at Ms., I've shortened the list due to time and space limits. Well, you've told me that while you love the Ms. lists, you also miss my more comprehensive lists, so I have decided to reinstate them here!
They'll be a bit different from those I used to post as I won't be able to take as much time to describe them fully; I'll need to leave that to my Ms. column. Instead, I'll just compile a quick and dirty list of covers with links for you to browse! So let's try this out for April and see how it goes! Let me know what you think in the comments below.
Tags: Women writers, queer, intersex, health
Tags: Women writers, labor, procreation, feminism
Tags: Feminism, women writers, Mexico, art
Tags: LGBTQ, women writers, poetry
Tags: Debut, women writers, Latinx, short stories, Indigenous
Tags: Debut, Peru, women writers, immigration, family
Tags: Women writers, Philippines, memoir, immigration, health
Tags: Women writers, Black women, lifestyle, essays, memoir
Tags: Trafficking, women writers, violence, memoir
Tags: Transgender, women writers, humor, memoir
Tags: Women writers, environmentalism, Native American, Indigenous
Tags: Women writers, Black women, parenthood, feminism
Tags: Women writers, queer, feminism, Latinx, memoir
Tags: LGBTQ, women writers, literary fiction, historical fiction
Tags: Poetry, women writers, LGBTQ, Asian American
Tags: Women writers, politics, memoir
Tags: Native American, women writers, family
Tags: Innu, Indigenous, women writers, memoir, activism
Tags: Women writers, LGBTQ, mythology
Tags: Debut, Palestine, historical fiction, women writers
Tags: Women writers, Black women, mystery, thriller
Tags: Women writers, coming of age, romance, contemporary
Tags: Argentina, women writers, art, urban
Tags: Women writers, LGBTQ, feminism, leadership
Tags: Transgender, memoir, essays
Tags: Women writers, YA, China, fantasy, debut
Tags: Cuba, history, essays, AfroCuban
Tags: Women writers, LGBTQ, YA, romance
Tags: Women writers, debut, family, Korea, literary
Tags: Women writers, Africa, essays, history
Tags: Women writers, lesbian, romance
Tags: Lesbian, romance, women writers
Tags: Lesbian, women writers, science fiction
Tags: Lesbian, women writers, romance
Tags: Women writers, lesbian, romance
Tags: Lesbian, romance, women writers
Tags: Puerto Rico, women writers, criminal justice, history
Tags: Magical realism, Spain, Argentina, women writers
Tags: Women writers, poetry, Palestine, Israel
Tags: Poetry, literary criticism, women writers
Tags: Mexico, women writers, historical fiction, family, rural, literary fiction
Tags: Latinx, food insecurity, women writers, labor
Tags: Women writers, Bangladesh, labor
Tags: Historical fiction, Sudan, women writers
Tags: Women writers, lesbian, thriller
Tags: LGBTQ, Afrofuturism, speculative, arts
Tags: Women writers, Colombia, family, memoir
Tags: Women writers, short stories, Thailand, politics, rural
Tags: Lesbian, romance, women writers
Tags: Women writers, Palestine, law, history
Tags: Women writers, lesbian, romance
Tags: Lesbian, women writers, romance, contemporary fiction
Tags: LGBTQ, magical realism, literary fiction
Tags: Women writers, graphic novel, science fiction, debut
Tags: Women writers, India, family
Tags: Women writers, Paris, Turkey, coming of age, literary fiction, family
Welcome to New Reads for the Rest of Us for January 2019!
Sorry this month’s is so late – I have had something in the works that I was focusing on and that I can now share:
Starting this month, I will be contributing a regular column to the Ms. Magazine blog! It will focus on the production, access, use, and preservation of knowledge by women and girls around the world. I will share women’s projects and initiatives that focus on information, literacy, indigenous knowledge, and more. And of course, I will share books and book reviews. If you like Reads for the Rest of Us, you’re gonna love this!
I think that these monthly lists will remain on my site but I am going to see how the Ms. column goes and adjust as necessary. Many (most?) of my book reviews will be on the Ms. blog but I would like to continue to update this site. We’ll see what I can do. Thanks for your continued support! But onto this month’s list…
With these monthly lists, I aim to amplify the books written by those who are historically underrepresented including, but not limited to: womxn, women of color, women from the Global South, women who are Black, Indigenous, dis/abled, queer, fat, immigrants, Muslim, sex-positive, and more. My lists meant to be intersectional, feminist, and trans-inclusive. I also want to highlight books by gender non-conforming people (who may or may not be described by the term “womxn”).
If you’d like to learn more about which books I focus on, see my Review Policy. These are just guidelines and I reserve the right to include (or not!) any books I see fit. I usually add to this list as I learn of others; if you have a suggestion, please share it in the comments below!
So here’s the New Reads for the Rest of Us for January 2019 list. There are so many great titles here, which will you read??
“Finally! In her remarkable book on the history of French feminism after World War II, Lisa Greenwald restores overlooked feminist activists of the 1950s and 1960s to their rightful place. Embedding them in their changing historical context, Greenwald follows feminism through upheaval and fracture after 1968, exploring both the unresolved dilemmas and the profound changes feminists brought about.”–Sarah Fishman, associate dean for undergraduate studies, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston
“Progressive reform will never look the same again. Marilyn Lake definitively shows how turn-of-the-century Australian reformers helped shape American political culture and the great extent to which Australians and Americans shared a mindset steeped in settler colonialism. This book’s evidence of their ‘subjective affinities’ is transformative.”–Nancy F. Cott, Harvard University
“An Indefinite Sentence bears witness to the long struggle against homophobia; it is also a vital, up to date record of gay rights and AIDS relief activism worldwide. Its rich perspective makes clear that anyone who still thinks criminalising sex work is an effective strategy to uphold human dignity needs to read this moving, impressive and necessary book.”–Preti Taneja, Desmond Elliot Prize winner for We That Are Young
Tags: YA, historical fiction, women writers, Black women
Bloomsbury YA, 272 pages
“Seeks to illuminate ‘an often-neglected aspect of black history: the black middle class and black aristocracy of the past.’ The rich descriptions of people and life in early America will fascinate readers as the book introduces them to this widely overlooked population in history.”–Booklist
Tags: African American, class, women writers, #OwnVoices
Nation Books, 400 pages
“Reniqua Allen strikes a fine balance between the personal histories of ambitious Black millennials and the systems in place that threaten their mobility. With acute detail to their location, background, and motive, Allen’s sharp journalistic skills are center stage, crafting reportage, cultural commentary, and personal anecdotes into a thought-provoking book that will add to our discussions about race, capitalism, education, and self-actualization.”–Morgan Jerkins, author of This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America
“… a splashy new edition … Moshfegh’s first book introduces the kind of character, in all his psychological wildness and vivid grotesquerie that her others are known for, and readers will be more than intrigued.”–Booklist
“When Likotsi and Fabiola meet again on a stalled subway train months later, Fab asks for just one cup of tea. Likotsi, hoping to know why she was unceremoniously dumped, agrees. Tea and food soon leads to them exploring the city together, and their past, with Fab slowly revealing why she let Likotsi go, and both of them wondering if they can turn this second chance into a happily ever after.”–Description
“This book is essential for anyone who wants to think deeply about race, feminism, and culture.”–BookRiot
“To say this collection is transgressive, provocative, and brilliant is simply to tell you the truth. Thick is a necessary work and a reminder that Tressie McMillan Cottom is one of the finest public intellectuals writing today.”–Roxane Gay, author of Hunger and Bad Feminist
Tags: Memoir, #OwnVoices, women writers, politics, Black women
Penguin, 336 pages
“From one of America’s most inspiring political leaders, a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country.”–Description
“Comprising the bulk of the book are urgent, articulate first-person stories from displaced or refugee young women whom Yousafzai has encountered in her travels, whose birthplaces include Colombia, Guatemala, Syria and Yemen. … The contributors’ strength, resilience, and hope in the face of trauma is astounding, and their stories’ underlying message about the heartbreaking loss of their former lives and homelands (and the resulting “tangle of emotions that comes with leaving behind everything you know”) is profoundly moving.”–Publishers Weekly
“The journal GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies is where queer theory has defined and transformed itself. On the occasion of the GLQ’s twenty-fifth anniversary, the editors, authors, and readers of the journal commemorate its impact on the field.”–Description
Tags: Disability, women writers, design, US history
NYU, 304 pages
“This illuminating and thoughtful overview of the evolution of accessible design in the U.S. between the end of WWII and the late 1990s is a strong introduction to the topic…Williamson skillfully connects design concepts to changing social narratives; this work should reward readers interested in either topic.”–Publishers Weekly
“Now with her plan for a short, uncomplicated stay in Danville foiled by the growing mystery and her undeniable feelings for Ally, Belle must decide whether to stick with her original plan for a clean getaway back to the Connecticut shore or to follow her heart’s lead.”–Description
Tags: Poetry, women writers, Black women, incarceration
Bloomsbury Publishing. 192 pages
“DaMaris B. Hill writes the poetry of the bound black woman across the ages in this haunting, powerful collection. What you will read here is not just poetry, though. This book offers an education. This book bears witness. This book is a reckoning.”–Roxane Gay
“When Emily meets Andi Marino she thinks she’s found a new best friend, just the right kind of fun and caring person to keep her from spending every weekend alone. So when Emily discovers she’s a lesbian and wants to explore her feelings for women, Andi seems like the perfect social guide. Except Emily doesn’t know that Andi has been attracted to her from the start and is fast falling in love with her. Caught up in exploring her sexuality, will Emily see the only woman she needs is right in front of her?”–Description
Tags: Debut, women writers, literary fiction, India, #OwnVoices
Grove Press, 448 pages
“A ghastly secret lies at the heart of Madhuri Vijay’s stunning debut, The Far Field, and every chapter beckons us closer to discovering it….The Far Field chafes against the useless pity of outsiders and instead encourages a much more difficult solution: cross-cultural empathy.–Madeline Day, Paris Review
“Remarkable…an engrossing narrative… Vijay’s stunning debut novel expertly intertwines the personal and political to pick apart the history of Jammu and Kashmir.”–Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“Chokshi delivers a thrilling, gritty new fantasy set in an alternate nineteenth century Paris… Chokshi shines as a master storyteller in her newest novel; the setting, world building, plot, and conflict are all staggering. However, the elements that perhaps shine the most are the history, riddles, mysteries, and science, woven together in a world brimming with power and magic.”–Booklist, Starred Review
A Washington Post, Vulture, Bustle, Real Simple, PopSugar, and LitHub Most Anticipated Book of 2019 and an Apple Books Best of January 2019
“Fascinating… With thoughtful candor, [Shapiro] explores the ethical questions surrounding sperm donation, the consequences of DNA testing, and the emotional impact of having an uprooted religious and ethnic identity. This beautifully written, thought-provoking genealogical mystery will captivate readers from the very first pages.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
When Heather and Louie “meet at the Bluebird Café, sparks fly. But Heather knows what being an out lesbian in Nashville would do to her career. Louie isn’t willing to be anything other than exactly who she is. Thrust together to work with Country royalty, they must figure out how to be Music City dreamers without losing themselves and, ultimately, each other.”–Description
“Atlanta marketing superstar Autumn Swan’s world is anything but simple. Constantly plugged in to what’s trending on social media, it’s her job to keep her clients ahead of the competition. When her favorite cousin dies suddenly, she finds herself the owner of a modest country home, guardian to a sullen, tomboyish ten-year-old, and neighbor to an intriguing woman who isn’t as ordinary as she appears.”–Description
“When a threat to the Queen Consort emerges, Quincy and Holly clash over the best way to protect her. As the fiery passion they can’t deny begins to melt Quincy’s heart, Holly must decide how much of her own she is willing to risk.”–Description
Tags: Latinx, women writers, Colombia, historical fiction, #OwnVoices
Curbstone Books 2, 272 pages
“Sánchez Blake’s novel gives both a face and a voice to a segment of the population that has been largely overlooked and undervalued in not only official historical documentation but also . . . literary production . . . [it] represents a noteworthy step forward in the breaking of the silence that has long entrapped half the Colombian population.”–Michelle Sharp, Multiple Modernities: Carmen de Burgos, Author and Activist
Tags: LGBTQ, family, literary fiction, women writers, Pakistan, #OwnVoices
Ballantine, 352 pages
“A rollicking good ride . . . The opulent landscape of Pakistan’s moneyed (and unmoneyed) social elite is exactly the kind of modern update Pride and Prejudice needs. This is one of those books that is hard to put down.”–SJ Sindu, author of Marriage of a Thousand Lies
Tags: #MeToo, #OwnVoices, women writers, short stories
Gallery/Scout Press, 240 pages
“If you think you know what this collection will be like, you’re wrong. These stories are sharp and perverse, dark and bizarre, unrelenting and utterly bananas. I love them so, so much.”–Carmen Maria Machado, National Book Award Finalist and author of Her Body and Other Parties
Tags: LGBTQ, Ukraine, #OwnVoices, Wisconsin, women writers, Prague, romance
Serpent’s Tail, 256 pages
“Written with the dramatic tension of Euripidean tragedy and the dreamlike quality of a David Lynch film, Virtuoso is an audacious, mesmerising novel of love in the post-communist diaspora.”–Description
“In the style of a ’90s dark comedy flick, Merricat Mulwray’s debut brings an insightful and humorous perspective to the reckless behavior college students perpetually get away with. Mallory, herself a flawed heroine, is backed by a self-serving cast of athletes, party girls, townies, and fraternity brothers so hilariously dark that the book will leave you wondering if anyone ever gets what they deserve.”–Description
“With expertise and deep empathy, Eva Mendes and Meredith Maroney amplify the diverse voices of people on the autism spectrum. In exploring sexual orientation and gender, alongside other aspects of personal identity, the authors demonstrate and model respect for the humanity of autistic adults and teens. An important and timely read!”–Hillary Hurst Bush, PhD, Staff Psychologist and Instructor, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School
“Providing support and guidance for partners of trans people, this workbook offers them a safe space to explore their own wants and needs. With advice on legal, financial and sexual matters, it is a must have for all trans partners.”–Description
“This excellent book, based in extensive service provision experience and academic expertise, should be a touchstone for sexual violence organisations, scholars and anyone interested in understanding the challenges transgender survivors face. On highly politicised terrain, Rymer and Cartei have managed to create an accessible, evidence-based and practical text which will be appreciated by many.” Alison Phipps, Professor of Gender Studies, Sussex University
“Determined to make it on her own, Chelsea picks herself up and starts to rebuild her life. She attempts to reconnect with her daughters, edits books for a lesbian press, and finds a part-time job. Along the way, she makes friends and falls in love. Will she manage to create a meaningful new life without losing those she loved and left? Does she get a second chance at happiness?”–Description
Tags: Myanmar (Burma), women writers, #OwnVoices, politics, economy
University of Wisconsin Press, 320 pages
“Required reading for students and professionals interested in political economy, development, aid, society, and culture in Myanmar and Southeast Asia, and within and beyond the field of Asian studies. Original and exciting.”–Maitrii Aung-Thwin, National University of Singapore
“Particularly exciting is Thawnghmung’s attention to deference, noncompliance, accommodation, and participation in perpetuating the status quo.”–Ken MacLean, Clark University
Tags: China, immigration, women writers, history, #OwnVoices
Ballantine Books, 528 pages
“Zia’s portraits are compassionate and heartbreaking, and they are, ultimately, the universal story of many families who leave their homeland as refugees and find less-than-welcoming circumstances on the other side. I read with a personal hunger to know the political and personal exigencies that led to those now-or-never decisions, for they mirror the story of my own mother, who also left on virtually the last boat out of Shanghai.”–Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club
Tags: Poverty, women writers, #OwnVoices, parenthood, work
Hachette Books, 288 pages
Forbes, Most Anticipated Books of the Year
“What this book does well is illuminate the struggles of poverty and single-motherhood, the unrelenting frustration of having no safety net, the ways in which our society is systemically designed to keep impoverished people mired in poverty, the indignity of poverty by way of unmovable bureaucracy, and people’s lousy attitudes toward poor people… Land’s prose is vivid and engaging… [A] tightly-focused, well-written memoir… an incredibly worthwhile read.”–Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger: A Memoir
“Ana and Melodie would gladly keep staying out of each other’s way, but Mother Nature has other plans. Trapped inside the inn when a strong storm surge hits the beach community, they’re forced to come together to face the terrifying event and its aftermath. Can they rise above their conflicting beliefs and let their attraction take the lead?”–Description
Tags: Trans, memoir, #OwnVoices, Black women, family, parenthood
Ballantine Books, 352 pages
“A courageous and poetic testimony on family and the self, and the learning and unlearning we must do for those we love. In her stunning and moving debut, Jodie Patterson offers us all a blueprint for what it means to be a champion for our children and encourage us to be bold enough to let our babies lead the way, especially when we don’t have answers. Required reading for every parent, and anyone who has ever been parented.”–Janet Mock, New York Times bestselling author of Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty
Tags: Business, feminism, #OwnVoices, women writers
Hay House Inc., 296 pages
“Miki’s book Disrupt-Her is a one-of-a-kind manifesto that takes you by the hand, energetically pulls you away from societal preconceptions, and pushes you toward a life and world of possibility and abundance where you will shout, ‘YES!! I CAN DO ANYTHING!’ Miki lived through all the ups and downs of being a Disrupt-her and emerges with this book and perspective of life that is vulnerable, POWERFUL and contagious. She was born to write this book. Get it and it will change your life.”–Radha Agrawal, founder and CEO of Daybreaker.com and author of Belong
Tags: Debut, women writers, coming of age, literary fiction
Atria Books, 288 pages
“Smart, tough, an extraordinary athlete, Lucy Adler teeters, zealous and baffled, on the cusp of womanhood. Dana Czapnik’s frank heroine has a voice, and a perspective, you won’t soon forget. The Falconer is an exhilarating debut.”–Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl and The Woman Upstairs
Tags: LGBTQ, Islam, coming of age, YA, family, women writers, Bangladesh
Scholastic Inc., 336 pages
“With an up-close depiction of the intersection of the LGBTQIA+ community with Bengali culture, this hard-hitting and hopeful story is a must-purchase for any YA collection.”–School Library Journal, starred review
“This book will break your heart and then, chapter by chapter, piece it back together again. A much-needed addition to any YA shelf.”–Sandhya Menon, New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi
“Reclaiming Our Space is an invaluable contribution to long-overdue conversations about race, gender, and intersectionality in America. Feminista Jones combines empathy and wisdom with intellectual rigor and historical analysis to explain clearly and compellingly the central role that Black feminists play in the fight for democracy and social justice.”–Soraya Chemaly, director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project and author of Rage Becomes Her
Tags: Poetry, women writers, LGBTQ, Middle East, #OwnVoices, Palestine
Mariner Books, 96 pages
“Mapping a year of change, Hala Alyan uses wit, metaphor, and powerful imagery in this collection of deeply intimate and truth-telling poems. Her words brave through gender, love, marriage, family, and displacement. They unsettle the hyphen between Palestinian and American. These stunning poems endure the unendurable, illuminating both the powerlessness of pain and the relentless courage of love. Listen for her lyrical heart: letters, prayers, and portraits. Listen for what overlooks and fires free.”–Aja Monet, author of My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter
Tags: Memoir, history, Black women, #OwnVoices, coming of age, Detroit
Little, Brown and Company, 320 pages
“Novelist Davis honors her mother in this lively and heartfelt memoir of growing up in the 1960s and ’70s Detroit…This charming tale of a strong and inspirational woman offers a tantalizing glimpse into the past, savoring the good without sugarcoating the bad.”–Publishers Weekly
So there’s the New Reads for the Rest of Us for January 2019 list – What are you reading this month??
This year I set out to read only books by womxn and focused on #OwnVoices books by BIPOC, TGNC, LGBTQ, and international writers.
I’m on track to read 50 titles and have really enjoyed most of them. I even read a few by men (still #OwnVoices) that I would recommend (you can read those reviews here, here, and here).
In this post, I want to share with you my favorites, by womxn, just in time for gift-giving season! All of these would be great ideas to give to your friend or family member who enjoys reading #OwnVoices.
One of the first books I read this year, Freshwater blew my expectations away and set a high bar for my reading during the rest of 2018. Complex and unique, this coming of age story is set against a backdrop of Nigerian spirituality and tradition. With strong themes of gender, sex, relationships, identity, health, violence, and more, Akwaeke Emezi shares their journey and I am here for it.
I adore this little book! I’ve read it three times already; it is my book girlfriend. It just really resonated with my own experiences in many ways and I dig Genevieve Hudson’s writing style. The book is genre-defying in that it is part history lesson, part memoir, part biography, part book review, part manifesta, and all homage to Alison Bechdel.
I didn’t write reviews of these books (yet?) but LOVED them. I am skeptical that I could write reviews that could do them justice. I was so ready for the (often very different) tones of these books. Juxtaposing them makes sense to me; I feel both – sometimes in the same day.
Gift Black Queer Hoe to readers who like poetry, readers who don’t like poetry, fans of spoken word, queer friends, your best girl friend from waaay back who is apologetically strong and takes no shit. Also consider pairing this with José Olivàrez’s Citizen Illegal, which is equally amazing.
Gift Heart Berries to friends who enjoy creative memoir, poetic writing, and deep or emotional books; those looking to hear Indigenous womxn’s voices; those who don’t mind books that make them cry.
This is a beautifully written book; Ingrid Rojas Contreras is just a fantastic storyteller. Her characters are fully and meticulously developed and I felt invested in them, their lives, and their survival. It inspired me to learn more about Colombia, its past and present, especially regarding womxn’s roles and rights. An amazing debut based on the life the author.
Gift to: Friends who enjoy historical fiction, creative memoirs, rich character and plot development, coming of age stories. Those looking for Latina/x voices and great writing will not be disappointed.
I read this book very early in the year and was excited by its brave girl lead characters. This alone is reason enough to read the book but I knew it was important to push myself past the initial awe at this story of strength and resiliency. When I did, I experienced an even deeper story of multidimensional characters navigating their lives and attempting to balance tradition with self-realization.
Despite the premise of the book, I found this one fun! One of the strengths of Heng’s writing – and there are many – is her commitment to detail. Her ability to describe this near-future world is rivaled only by her presentation of it; while she is descriptive in her storytelling, Heng also trusts her reader to put the various pieces together.
Gift to: Those who enjoy dystopian and speculative fiction and books that make you wonder what you would do in that situation; those who like family dramas, strong character development, and unique plots.
I haven’t reviewed this one (yet?) but it is an amazing resource. Accessible and pragmatic, the book explains the Black Queer Feminist (BQF) framework and provides examples of it at work.
Gift to: Your activist friends and your academic friends; your friend who runs a local non-profit org doing imperative, yet largely invisible, work for amazing, yet largely invisible, people in the community; you funder friends (with a card stuck inside the cover of your friend who runs the non-profit).
This is another one that I loved and didn’t review. Another one that I honestly got stuck trying to figure out how to do it justice. This book was not written for me and I am sure some of the nuances were lost. But it was one of the most important reads of the year for me. It deserves a second and third reading.
Gift to: Busy readers who dig powerful, witty short stories with meaning; those who enjoy really good writing; readers who like literary fiction with sharp corners.
While Naomi Klein’s book explores only one facet of the effects of Maria on Puerto Rico – disaster capitalists setting their sights on Puerto Rico in its vulnerable post-Maria state – it is an imperative issue to address. Only a brief (although necessary) introduction, the book offers a firm foundation to understanding disaster capitalism, the shock doctrine phenomenon, and how Puerto Rico was susceptible to more than just hurricane damage when Maria struck.
I hadn’t planned to read this one but when I received a copy from the publisher at a conference, I couldn’t help but race through this short but powerful work that feels like having a meaningful and candid conversation with a girlfriend.
Gift to: Queer or TGNC friends, accomplices who appreciate reading #OwnVoices books, friends who like reading memoirs, friends who want to understand more of the nuances of gender identity and non-comformity to established binary norms.
This was the biggest surprise of the year for me. I knew it was going to be good but as one who doesn’t read reviews before I pick up a book, I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected turns, the complex lead characters, and the surprising plot twists.
I wouldn’t have known about this book if it wasn’t for the author herself reaching out to me and I am so glad she did! This is a case of self-publishing that succeeds. Based on Hawaa Ayoub’s own life experiences, this book is a brave retelling of a girl’s coming of age against a backdrop of forced child marriage in Yemen.
Gift to: Friends who like creative memoirs, stories from international authors, tales of resilience and family drama; those who are passionate about gender equality and interested in understanding (or resisting) traditional gender roles; those who appreciate detailed character and setting development.
Have you read any of these? What are your thoughts?
What were your favorite reads of 2018?
This post contains affiliate links; I write what I like.
I have been writing a lot for work but also reviewing other people’s writing, so that has kept me busy as well. Right now I am editing biographies of Wisconsin Suffragists for a new online dictionary of suffrage being published by Alexander Street Press; I am editing and reviewing two articles (by others) for publication in academic journals; and I am trying to research and write my own chapter for inclusion in an upcoming ebook about women and leadership around the world – my piece focuses on the role libraries can play in women’s leadership development.
It is no wonder I am having trouble keeping up!
So that’s the July 2018 wrap up! What are you looking forward to in August? Do you have any ideas of topics for my next resource list?
This post is part of the Monthly Wrap-Up Link-Up hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction!
Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and this is where her remarkable debut novel, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, takes place.
In a time when Pablo Escobar, infamous drug lord and head of one of the most dangerous criminal families in the world, was at the height of his power, seven year old Chula and her family enjoy relatively safe lives. That is until Chula’s curiosities about their new maid, Petrona, get the better of her. Petrona and Chula develop an unlikely and heartfelt friendship despite their differences.
The author, Ingrid Rojas Contreras.
Chula lives with her sister and parents who enjoy carefree lives, aside from Chula’s father often traveling for work. But Petrona goes home to a very different world when she leaves the safety of working for Chula’s family. Petrona and her family live in a poor, guerrilla-held area of the city which is unprotected from the car bombs and kidnappings which occur more frequently as the story progresses.
“I knew that there was no gate surrounding the invasiones where Petrona lived, no iron locks on the doors, no iron bars on the windows. When I asked Petrona how she and her family stayed safe, she laughed. Then because I was embarrassed she shrugged her shoulders. She thought for a moment then said, ‘There’s nothing to lose.’ Five syllables.”
The differences between the lives of Petrona and Chula are stark; Petrona’s life is a mystery that Chula feels driven to uncover, despite the dangers. Their relationship is illustrative of the real challenges that inequalities in class and socioeconomic status can often pose.
When I began reading this book, it was these differences in the main characters and their situations that most interested me. I knew there was more lurking just underneath the surface. I appreciated that Fruit of the Drunken Tree had me questioning: What makes a family? What can friendships overcome? What would I sacrifice for others? For safety? For love?
As I read further, the layers of the book had me reflecting on the toll violence plays in societies in general, but especially on women and girls. Women are often forced to make impossible choices in times of war and violence; girls, in turn, carry incredible burdens of fear and responsibility much bigger than themselves.
“Cassandra was biting her nails. She said she could outsmart the guerrillas if they ever tried to kidnap her. She was, after all, first in her class… ‘My history teacher says most guerrilleros haven’t gone past the fourth grade, and I’m in fifth.’
My eyes widened as I turned to look out the window. I was in third.”
I didn’t know much about Colombia or Pablo Escobar before reading the book. It is not necessary for the reader to have this background but the book did pique my interest in learning more about Colombia’s history, language, and culture. [Of course I did some research and have included some links below.]
Essentially, during the time the story takes place, violent conflict in Colombia had already been raging for decades. Right-wing paramilitaries began fighting against the existing left-wing revolutionary rebels; the drug trade and cartels, like the one led by Pablo Escobar, added another layer to an already deadly situation. Despite the seemingly safe existence that many middle- and upper-class Colombians lived at the time, the fighting was never far from the minds or realities of many.
“My Barbie, Lola, had been the boss of guerrillas in Putumayo, but her men revolted against her and chopped her up and left her for dead in a jungle. She had a red bandana around her forehead and penciled-in bags under her eyes.”
It is so compelling to me that Escobar, like many other larger-than-life men throughout history, was hated by some but still loved by others, even considered a Robin Hood-style savior. He was a magnetic yet terrifying figure who evaded capture for many years.
Around this time, I also came across a new television show, Dark Tourist, in which the host traveled to Colombia to explore Escobar tourist attractions there, of which there are many. In one segment, with one of Escobar’s closest henchmen, the host goes on a tour of La Catedral, the prison at which Escobar was held for a year – that Escobar himself built (!).
Photo of La Catedral by Tom Griggs
It may be shocking for some to think that anyone would want to tour this site but it illustrates people’s fascination with charismatic, narcissistic, and often, evil figures. Rojas Contreras is especially skilled in portraying this dynamic and other seemingly incongruous facets of life and relationships.
This becomes more impressive when you learn that this book is based on experiences of Rojas Contreras’ life and people she knew. How she is able to take her own experiences of being a girl growing up in Colombia and construct a powerful story with such universal meaning is a true testament to her skill as a writer.
So what is a Drunken Tree and how does it tie in to this story? Well the Drunken Tree, called Borrachero in Colombia, is a tree with beautiful flowers and fruit that hang down from its branches. It has a sweet smell but is deadly poisonous. For years, the fruit has been ground into a drug that causes extreme confusion, a dangerous lack of judgement, and according to Rojas Contreras, “…it takes your free will away.”
A Borrachero tree in Colombia (Shutterstock).
In the book, one of these trees stands in the backyard of Chula’s home and her mother warns her about spending too much time too close to it. The tree is a symbol of how sometimes the most beautiful things can be the most haunting and dangerous; it encourages the reader to reflect upon friendships, intentions, and trust.
Bottom line: Ingrid Rojas Contreras is just a fantastic storyteller. Her characters and the plot are fully and meticulously developed while the perspectives of the story switch seamlessly between Chula and Petrona. I felt invested in the characters, their lives, and their survival. This is one of Rojas Contreras’ true strengths.
The result is a full, rich tapestry of authentic interactions and emotions both among the characters and with their reader. Fruit of the Drunken Tree is an outstanding debut; if you appreciate raw yet flavorful storytelling, robust storylines, or Latinx literature, I highly recommend it.
This post contains affiliate links; quotes are based on the advanced reader’s copy (ARC) and may or may not be reflected in the final copy of the book. Thanks to NetGalley, Doubleday, and Ingrid Rojas Contreras for the complimentary ARC! My reviews contain my own honest feedback.
My new book release lists are undergoing a name change!
Welcome to New Reads for the Rest of Us for July 2018.
I updated the title to better represent my purpose for these lists. You’ll be able to read more about this soon in a new post and an updated values statement but for now, just know that I will continue to offer you all the latest titles by womxn writers. (You might also notice that I added additional info about each title including tags and page counts.)
Essentially, I aim to amplify the books written by those who are historically underrepresented including, but not limited to: women of color, women from the Global South, women who are black, indigenous, disabled, queer, fat, immigrants, Muslim, sex-positive, and more. My lists are intersectional, feminist, and trans-inclusive. I also want to highlight books by gender non-conforming people (who may or may not be described by the term “womxn”).
So here’s July’s list! There are so many great titles here, which will you read??
Tags: South Africa, women writers, biography, #OwnVoices, Black women, Mandela
Jacana Media, 224 pages
“The idea to gather the memories of those who served Madiba into a book came from an understanding that most people in South Africa, and those around the world, knew him as an icon; as a public figure. It was important to me that the stories of those close to him be published so that fifty years from now, even a hundred years from now, when future generations want to know who Nelson Mandela was, they would not only be told the story of the head of state, but they would be able to read the story of a human being with a caring heart and generous soul.“–Mrs. Graça Machel
Tags: Historical fiction, World War II, Turkey, Jewish women, women writers
Amazon Crossing, 316 pages
“World War II scattered families across the globe, with only the luckiest remaining together in their new homes. In this poignant, timely novel, we meet the Jewish scientists who move from Germany to Istanbul to develop their vision of the world’s best universities. Based on the true story of neuropathologist professor Philipp Schwartz, Without a Country tells the story of one family’s migration, with all the challenges and triumphs of laying down roots in a new land.”–Gabriella Page-Fort (editor)
“Using an intersectional approach, Marriage, Divorce, and Distress in Northeast Brazil explores rural, working-class, black Brazilian women’s perceptions and experiences of courtship, marriage and divorce. In this book, women’s narratives of marriage dissolution demonstrate the ways in which changing gender roles and marriage expectations associated with modernization and globalization influence the intimate lives and the health and well being of women in Northeast Brazil. Melanie A. Medeiros explores the women’s rich stories of desire, love, respect, suffering, strength, and transformation.”–Description
Tags: Child marriage, Yemen, #OwnVoices, debut, women writers
Hawaa Ayoub, 402 pages
Hawaa Ayoub, author of When a Bulbul Sings, has experienced the traumas of forced child-marriage first hand. She hopes to raise awareness through writing about child-marriage.
This is a story about the inequality, injustice and violations of human rights millions of girls around the world face due to their gender when forced or entered into underage marriage as child brides.”–Description
Tags: Plays, Michigan, black women, #ownvoices, women writers
Theatre Communications Group, 240 pages
“Detroit ’67 is Morisseau’s aching paean to her natal city. . . . A deft playwright, Morisseau plays expertly with social mores and expectations. She also reframes commonplace things so that we see them in new light.”–StarTribune on Detroit ’67
“A deeply moral and deeply American play, with a loving compassion for those trapped in a system that makes sins, spiritual or societal, and self-betrayal almost inevitable.”–The New York Times on Skeleton Crew
“In Don’t Let Them See Me Like This, Jasmine Gibson explores myriad intersectional identities in relation to The State, disease, love, sex, failure, and triumph. Speaking to those who feel disillusioned by both radical and banal spaces and inspired/informed by moments of political crisis: Hurricane Katrina, The Jena Six, the extrajudicial executions of Black people, and the periods of insurgency that erupted in response, this book acts as a synthesis of political life and poetic form.”–Publisher description
“An enchanting evocation of the brilliant Mughal Empire and a tender tribute to India’s first female leader. Lush and sensuous, a jewel box of a book.”–Rosalind Miles, author of Who Cooked the Last Supper? The Women’s History of the World
“This is an outstanding book, not only incredibly important but also a fabulous piece of writing. Here, India’s greatest empress is reborn in all her fascinating glory in a luminescent account of her life and times. Ruby Lal has written a classic―one of the best biographies to come out this year and certainly the best ever of Nur Jahan.”–Amanda Foreman, author of The World Made by Women
“What a book! Gologorsky is at her best, weaving a tapestry of the lives of very real people, people whose lives deserve her care, her unsparing eye, and her compassion. Here is a story that cuts to the core of the way things are, and the way they can — all of a sudden — become. You heart might be ripped out by this book, but it will get placed back inside with a larger capacity to love and beat on — what a book, indeed.”–Elizabeth Strout, author of My Name is Lucy Barton and Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge
Tags: China, women writers, memoir, Taiwan, history
Columbia University Press, 480 pages
“The Great Flowing River is one of the great memoirs of modern China. Telling the story of one woman’s odyssey through the twentieth century, this is not just a deeply moving account of Chi Pang-yuan and her family, but a window into how the Chinese people came through the trauma of war and turmoil, and created a new set of civilized values in their aftermath.”–Rana Mitter, author of Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945
“This is a memoir of epic proportions. Chi’s work is a testimony of this tremendous historical period that is the long twentieth century for the Chinese and the Taiwanese peoples. The English translation of this epochal memoir is most certainly significant.”–Letty Chen, author of Writing Chinese: Reshaping Chinese Cultural Identity
Tags: Feminism, memoir, essays, art, women writers
Coffee House Press, 132 pages
“This small and beautiful book about feminism and motherhood and art is perfect for those of us who like thinking outside of the box when we’re looking for something lovely to read.”–Vulture
“. . . Fusselman bounds with great dexterity from theme to theme—covering topics including addiction, motherhood, gender, and art—until she has transformed the traditional essay into something far wilder and more alive.”–Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Last year author Sheena Kamal introduced readers to Nora Watts in what Kirkus called ‘a searing debut’ in their starred review for The Lost Ones. […] Now Kamal returns with her highly-anticipated follow-up, It All Falls Down and the brilliant, fearless, deeply flawed Nora Watts is back and in deadly trouble…”–Publisher’s description
“Kamal laces her narrative with a palpable melancholy, effectively capturing the urban decay of Detroit while emphasizing the vibrancy and hope of the people who inhabit it. An explosive finale…sets the stage for more to come from this complicated, flawed, and utterly enthralling heroine. A stunning, emotionally resonant thriller.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Tags: Queer, pansexual, bisexual, genderqueer, urban fantasy
Less Than Three Press, ebook (30k words)
“In Temperance City, the streets are ruled by spelled-up gangsters, whose magic turf wars serve as a constant backdrop to civilian life. With magic strictly regulated, Eli Coello—whip-smart jewelry salesman by day, sultry torch singer by night—has always found it advantageous to hide his magical affinity for ink.
All that goes up in smoke the day Eli is forced to use his magic to foil a jewelry heist, and in doing so unwittingly catches the eye of Duke Haven, leader of the fire-flinging Pyre gang. Seeing a useful asset, Duke promptly blackmails Eli into providing unregistered spellwork.
Duke needs Eli’s ink-magic to help him pull a dangerous con against a rival gang. As the heist comes together, Eli finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the Temperance underworld—and, perhaps most dangerously, to Duke himself.”–Description
Tags: Puerto Rico, Latinx women, debut, #ownvoices, short stories, women writers
Feminist Press, 200 pages
“Wise, ferocious, and beautifully executed, these tales trace the tangled roots of trauma and desire.”–Patricia Engel, author of The Veins of the Ocean
“An insightful look into girlhood, race, and the wounds of growing up, Love War Stories is a searing collection. Rodriguez has a rare gift for describing the minutiae of contemporary life, the heartaches as well as the dangers, without flinching.”–Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore
Tags: Politics, social justice, non-fiction, women writers
Melville House, 224 pages
“For too long, a privileged, pale, male minority have long claimed to speak for America. But as Onnesha Roychoudhuri shows, they are in fact profoundly out of touch with a society that’s increasingly progressive and diverse. This book is a clear-eyed pep talk for those who stand on the brink of despair and a welcome reminder that a new, true majority has the potential to rise up and change the world.”–Astra Taylor, author of The People’s Platform
“We have the numbers, strength, and vision to beat back the resurgent right and set a new people’s agenda. But it won’t happen until we start telling new stories about change, shedding the tired ones that have silenced and demoralized us. This book is a daring intervention to get us back in the game—and a witty, delightfully personal meditation on collective power.”–Naomi Klein, author of No Is Not Enough and This Changes Everything
“Moshfegh has a keen sense of everyday absurdities, a deadpan delivery, and such a well-honed sense of irony that the narrator’s predicament never feels tragic; this may be the finest existential novel not written by a French author. . . . A nervy modern-day rebellion tale that isn’t afraid to get dark or find humor in the darkness.”–Kirkus, starred review
Tags: Arab women, women writers, humor, friendship, #ownvoices
Pantheon, 240 pages
“Novelist and memoirist al-Shaykh delivers an elegant story of a friendship that is anything but easy. . . . [The] novel is full of quiet regrets as it speaks gracefully to the challenges of friendship, challenges that threaten to drive the two women apart but that, in the end, instead strengthen their bond. Another winning book by one of the most distinguished Arabic-language writers at work today.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Lebanese-born, Cairo-educated, and London-based, al-Shaykh writes piercingly about Middle East upheaval and especially women in the Arab-Muslim world. Somewhere along the French Riviera, two young women from Beirut—Muslim-raised Huda and Christian-raised Yvonne—reflect on their tumultuous lives and struggles with work and love.”–Library Journal
Tags: Debut, dystopian, immigration, women writers
Touchstone, 320 pages
[T]he novel oscillates between the present and future—a jarring juxtaposition that’s equally touching and heartbreaking… Lim’s writing shines brightest when she’s ruminating on time, memory, and love… A beautiful debut exploring how time, love, and sacrifice are never what they seem to be.–Kirkus
Lim’s enthralling novel succeeds on every level: as a love story, an imaginative thriller, and a dystopian narrative.–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Tags: Michigan, non-fiction, politics, environment, women writers
Metropolitan Books, 320 pages
“The story of the Flint crisis is disturbing enough even if one knows only a few details. But the entire case, as laid out by Anna Clark, is enraging. Clark has sifted the layers of politics, history, and myopic policy to chronicle the human costs of this tragedy. Flint is not an outlier, it’s a parable – one whose implications matter not just to a single municipality but to every city in the country and all who live in them.”–Jelani Cobb, Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism, Columbia University
“Anna Clark’s book on the Flint water crisis rises to a great challenge: it sacrifices neither complexity nor moral clarity. And by etching this story’s outlines in decades of racist neglect, it is not just a splendid work of journalism. It is a genuine contribution to history.”–Rick Perlstein, author of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
Tags: Speculative fiction, debut, dystopian, women writers
Henry Holt and Co., 352 pages
“Fans of modern speculative fiction and readers who love stories that warn us to be careful what we wish for will be enthralled by Heng’s highly imaginative debut, which deftly asks, “What does it really mean to be alive?”–Library Journal, starred review
“In exquisitely crafted prose, Rachel Heng gives us a startling look at a version of the world that seems simultaneously wild and plausible. Heng is a bold new talent and a writer to watch.”–Liz Moore, author of Heft and The Unseen World
“What We Were Promised is a big beautiful novel. Lucy Tan’s dazzling debut grapples with the persistence of the past, the inevitability of the present, and the difficulty of balancing individuality with community.”–Hannah Pittard, author of Visible Empire and Listen to Me
“Tan’s talent as a storyteller clearly shines through her strong plot lines and characterization; readers will want to know more about each well-crafted player in the story . . . . A novel of class, culture, and expectations; readers who enjoyed works like Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians will likely find Tan’s surprising and down-to-earth tale an entertaining read.”–Library Journal
Relating Worlds of Racism: Dehumanisation, Belonging, and the Normativity of European Whiteness by Philomena Essed, Karen Farquharson, et al.
Tags: Europe, whiteness, race, women writers
Palgrave Macmillan, 436 pages
This international edited collection examines how racism trajectories and manifestations in different locations relate and influence each other. The book unmasks and foregrounds the ways in which notions of European Whiteness have found form in a variety of global contexts that continue to sustain racism as an operational norm resulting in exclusion, violence, human rights violations, isolation and limited full citizenship for individuals who are not racialised as White.–Description
“Tightly plotted, expertly choreographed…. Stage palpably conveys Suzette’s fear, anger, frustration, and desperation while exploring the deleterious effects that motherhood can have on one’s marriage and self-worth. …Stage fuses horror with domestic suspense to paint an unflinching portrait of childhood psychopathy and maternal regret.”–Kirkus (starred)
“Stage’s deviously fun debut takes child-rearing anxiety to demented new heights. Stage expertly crafts this creepy, can’t-put-it-down thriller into a fearless exploration of parenting and marriage that finds the cracks in unconditional love.”–Publishers Weekly (starred)
I included this one just because… I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
“[A] fierce thriller….de Campi delivers a script packed with righteous femme fatales full of wit and moxie…[and her] masterful writing is punctuated by the coolness of Santos’s block shading artwork and moody coloring; simplistic and reminiscent of the pop art style of the 1950s. Readers will revel in this fast-paced noir, embracing both its elegant period detail and pulpy genre roots.”–Publishers Weekly
“Cuba before the fall has long been a subject of interest in [the crime] genre….[and] Alex de Campi and Victor Santos…both partake of this long tradition and turn it on its head….The gorgeous colors and clean lines of this graphic novel complement the stylish storytelling, for a noir comic not to be missed.”–CrimeReads
Tags: Immigration, Mexico, family, women writers, memoir, debut, #ownvoices
One World, 352 pages
“Crux is everything I want in a memoir: prose that dazzles and cuts, insights hard-won and achingly named, and a plot that kept me up at night, breathlessly turning pages. Jean Guerrero has a poet’s lyrical sense, a journalist’s dogged devotion to truth, and a fast and far-reaching mind. This is a book preoccupied with chasing—that is one of its harrowing pleasures—but, like all great memoirs, it is ultimately a story about the great trouble and relief of being found.”–Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me
“Jean Guerrero has done excellent reporting from the U.S.–Mexico borderlands. Now she examines the more mysterious borders of family history and that unknown region of the heart. You will be moved by Crux—this book is powerful and true.”–Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway
“This is the book I would have written—but only if I had had a brilliant grasp of literature, politics, and history, and the ability to weave them together in a uniquely original way. The Death of Truth goes indelibly to the dark, dark heart of what is ailing our democracy as no recent book has done.”–Graydon Carter
“Kakutani’s The Death of Truth is politically urgent and intellectually dazzling. She deftly goes behind the daily headlines to reveal the larger forces threatening democracy at home in America, and elsewhere around the globe. The result is a brilliant and fascinating call-to-arms that anyone who cares about democracy ought to read immediately.”–Jane Mayer
“An increase in the number of transgender children…means that all primary schools need to ensure they are safe environments respectful of all genders. This book draws on the ‘Gender Respect Project’, which identified the need to address gender stereotyping and gender-based violence with children and young people.
The book is full of lesson plans, case studies, clear guidance and recommended actions as well as further reading and resources. Extending beyond awareness of other genders, this book provides a framework for a gender equality approach in the classroom, and empowers children to think critically about gender and to respect themselves and others.”–Description
“When their daughter Rosie was born, Eric and Stephani Lohman found themselves thrust into a situation they were not prepared for. Born intersex – a term that describes people who are born with a variety of physical characteristics that do not fit neatly into traditional conceptions about male and female bodies – Rosie’s parents were pressured to consent to normalizing surgery on Rosie, without being offered any alternatives despite their concerns.
Part memoir, part guidebook, this powerful book tells the authors’ experience of refusing to have Rosie operated on and how they raised a child who is intersex. […] This uplifting and empowering story is a must read for all parents of intersex children.”–Description
Tags: Jamaica, Caribbean, black women, #ownvoices, coming of age, short stories, women writers
Ballantine Books, 256 pages
“I am utterly taken with these gorgeous, tender, heartbreaking stories. Arthurs is a witty, perceptive, and generous writer, and this is a book that will last.”–Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties
“Stylistically reminiscent of Toni Morrison’s Paradise, this successful debut will appeal to readers of literary and Caribbean fiction.”–Library Journal
Tags: Family, suicide, business, feminism, memoir, women authors, #ownvoices
Little, Brown and Co., 288 pages
“This is more than a book: it’s a phenomenon. It kept me up nights with its urgency and insistence, following Rowbottom, in her masterfully clear-eyed grief, on the hunt for understanding and explanation. JELL-O GIRLS is a heart-wrenching confession, an exacting cultural history and an important and honest feminist story for right now.”–Aja Gabel, author of The Ensemble
“Allie Rowbotton is a talent not to be overlooked! I love this book with all my heart. I couldn’t put down this strangely sparkling cultural and family history.”–Porochista Khakpour, author of Sick
“Motherhood across Borders is a vivid and engaging ethnography about how mothers, grandmothers, caregivers, and children fare when they are divided by, but also connected despite, the U.S.-Mexico border. Focusing on the voices of those directly impacted—people of all ages, across generations, and in both Mexico and the United States—Oliveira provides an intimate portrayal of the ways that motherhood, and caregiving more generally, is shifting in transnational context.”-Deborah A. Boehm,author of Returned: Going and Coming in an Age of Deportation
“Name Me a Word is an indispensable guide for readers of Indian writing, animating the powerful impulses of the country’s famous writers and introducing the multiple voices that have gone into the making of the most important literature of our time.”–Simon Gikandi, Princeton University
“This ambitious collection conveys the astonishing and reflective literary vitality in modern India. Alexander guides the reader through this vast area with her well-written and illuminating headnotes for each writer in turn.”–Margery Sabin, Wellesley College
“In Pretend We Live Here, characters bleed and breathe with a caustic energy that dares the reader to keep pace as they are taken from the Deep South to Western Europe and back again. Genevieve Hudson is a new, coming-of-age voice that spotlights rural America, injecting it with a queer freshness that makes her writing impossible to forget.”–Jing-Jing Lee, author of How We Disappeared
Tags: Sports, Muslim women, memoir, #ownvoices, coming of age, women writers
Hachette Books, 288 pages
Named one of TIME‘s 100 Most Influential People
The first female Muslim American to medal at the Olympic Games
The first woman in hijab to compete for the United States in the Olympics
“Proud is the inspiring story of how Ibtihaj rose above it all with grace and compassion. She provides an unflinching and honest portrayal of how she managed to stay true to herself and still play by the rules. A coming-of-age story, a hero’s journey, and a moving memoir from one of the nation’s most influential athletes.”–Description
Tags: Memoirs, women writers, queer, trans, family, #ownvoices
Bedazzled Ink Publishing, 260 pages
“It is increasingly evident that Eliot is not only autistic, but is also an uncommon girl. Eliot’s mother, Carla, recounts their journey down an unfamiliar path riddled with dismissive medical consultations and mental health referrals to clinics with epic waiting lists. Eliot transitions to Ella, with ambitions of being a trophy wife. Her parents attempt to set limits but Ella, in a typically teenage way, resists anything she deems as trying to squelch her true feminine self. Ella is ‘outed’ repeatedly by teachers she trusted and stops attending school. Carla’s rage morphs into a motivating sense of injustice and she engages in a successful campaign for her child’s civil rights. Carla and Ella are not superheroes, they are just a couple of uncommon girls determined to leave a bumpy road a little smoother for the next travelers.”–Description
“Other, Please Specify illustrates and celebrates the intellectual courage and honesty that are indispensable to truly advance sociology as a discipline and a profession. These deeply engaging and insightful voices will inspire the reader to embrace sociological research without fear and to nurture an academic life with genuine freedom and authenticity.”–Gloria González-López, Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin
“A testament to the power of collaboration, this bracing and timely collection brings together rigorously self-reflexive, politically committed work by a rising generation of queer, trans, feminist, and anti-racist scholars.”— Heather Love, University of Pennsylvania
“The volume describes city spaces as sites where bodies are exhaustively documented while others barely register as subjects. The editors and contributors interrogate the forces that have allowed QTBIPOC to be imagined as absent from the very spaces they have long invested in.”–Description
Tags: Debut, #ownvoices, Colombia, mystery, coming of age, Latinx, women of color, women writers
Doubleday, 320 pages
“A coming of age story, an immigrant story, a thrilling mystery novel, thoroughly lived and felt—this is an exciting debut novel that showcases a writer already in full command of her powers. Make room on your shelves for a writer whose impressive debut promises many more.”–Julia Alvarez, author of In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents “When women tell stories, they are finally at the center of the page. When women of color write history, we see the world as we have never seen it before. In Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras honors the lives of girls who witness war. Brava! I was swept up by this story.”–Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
Tags: Korea, extremism, #ownvoices, debut, women writers
Riverhead Books, 224 pages
“The Incendiaries probes the seductive and dangerous places to which we drift when loss unmoors us. In dazzlingly acrobatic prose, R. O. Kwon explores the lines between faith and fanaticism, passion and violence, the rational and the unknowable.”–Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You
“One of those slim novels that contains multitudes, R.O. Kwon’s debut novel shows how unreliable we are as narrators when we’re trying to invent — and reinvent — ourselves.”–Vulture
Tags: Black women, queer, mystery, feminism, women writers, series
Harper Voyager, 304 pages
A selection in Parade’sroundup of “25 Hottest Books of Summer 2018”
A Paste Magazine’s Most Anticipated 25 books of 2018 pick
A Medium’s Books pick for We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018 list
“A Study in Honor is a fast-moving, diverse science-fictional Holmes and Watson reinterpretation set in near future Washington DC. As a deliciously intersectional makeover of a famous literary duo it’s enormously satisfying. Clean, clear, and vastly enjoyable.”–Nicola Griffith, Lambda Literary award-winning author of So Lucky
Now, I want to point out that Claire O’Dell is a pseudonym for Beth Bernobich, a middle-aged white woman from Connecticut. Despite the accolades I’ve read about Bernobich’s previous works, I honestly am not sure how I feel about a (straight?) white woman writing black queer women (don’t @ me!). That being said, she is writing queer black women sleuths, a feminist take on Sherlock Holmes they say, so I am not mad about it (yet?). I am very interested in learning more about the author and the inspiration behind this series. I am cautiously optimistic… how do you all feel about this?
What books are you most excited for in July?? Let me know in the comments below!
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It’s a new year and that means a whole new host of books to read. And 2018 has no shortage of amazing new books that I can’t wait to get my hands on!
Now I must admit that there are many titles left over from the last year (or two, or three…) that I just didn’t get to. On this list, I stick to fiction titles coming this year. Confession: I will not be able to get through all of the books I want to read this year either (although I am sure going to try), so I have limited this initial list to 12.
I can’t include everything I am interested in on this list so, as usual, I prioritize debut books written by womxn, authors of color, Black women, queer and gender noncomforming authors, authors from the Global South, and other authors of historically marginalized populations. They are listed below by the month in which they will be released.
Another confession? You should come back to this list every once in a while because I will probably keep sneaking more titles on the list throughout the year… and there will be more coming in the second half of the year that I’ve not included. But this is a start, so here we go!
Added July 19: As of today I have read 8 of these 12 books and the others are on my TBR. I’ve added links to my reviews to each book I’ve read below. You can check out my list for the second half of 2018 here! Happy reading.
In a starred review, Library Journal describes Red Clocks in this way: “In language both poetic and political, Zumas presents characters who are strong and determined; each is an individual in her own right. Inevitably, there will be comparisons to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but Zumas’s work is not nearly as dystopic or futuristic, only serving to make it that much more believable. Highly recommended.”
This is Zumas’ second novel and Elle says it is “Spooky-good.”
Named one of the most anticipated books of the year by Electric Lit, Bustle, Bitch,Book Riot, and others, this debut by Emezi received starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist.
Taiye Selasi, author of Ghana Must Go, describes it this way: “Freshwater is one of those dazzling novels that defies these kinds of descriptions. We can gesture to the story―set in Nigeria and America, told by all the selves of its Tamil/Igbo protagonist―but such synthesis fails to convey the magic that awaits its reader. At once fiction and memoir, potent in its spiritual richness and sexual frankness, the text seems not to have been written by but channeled through its brilliant author.” #ownvoices
A story about groundbreaking Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad, this debut was described by Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage and Silver Sparrow: “Written with the urgent tenderness of a love letter, this soaring novel is a heart-breaker and heart-mender at once—a gorgeous tribute to the brave and brilliant poet remembered in its pages.” #ownvoices
I am in the middle of reading this book now and I find it hard to put it down. Rao’s writing allows the reader to access the intricacies and darkness of her protagonist’s life in India in a way that one feels her intense heartbreak and resilience at once.
I’ll finish this one in the next few days, so be watching for a full review soon! #ownvoices
If Carrie Brownstein says a book is good, I’m pretty certain I’m going to read it. Of Chelsey Johnson’s debut novel she said: “Insightful and brilliant, Stray City explores the stickiness of doing what’s expected and the strange freedom born of contradiction. I tore through this novel like an orphaned reader seeking a home in its ragtag yet shimmering world.”
Author Michelle Tea described it as “A love letter to Portland in the 90s,” and “a gorgeous, funny, sharply spot-on tale of growing up and making family again and again and again.” So yeah, sign me up.
People are already raving over this debut collection of stories about Black identity, culture, and citizenship. It’s been described as wicked, awkward, wise, intense, inventive, honest, funny, smart, rewarding, original, and urgent.
From Publisher’s Weekly: “Stuffed with invention… Thompson-Spires proves herself a trenchant humorist with an eye for social nuance.”
Author Kelly Link calls it “a knockout.” I am really looking forward to this one. #ownvoices
The description of this debut novel is so compelling… an injured concert pianist impetuously buys a house on the coast of Cape Town (who wouldn’t) but over time, the house seems to affect the man in disturbing and mind-altering ways.
The author, poet Katharine Kilalea, grew up in South Africa and my love for the country makes this an especially intriguing new book for me. She’s got a two-book deal from Faber & Faber and The Paris Review is publishing the book as a serial, so not a bad start. Looking forward to this imaginative story.#ownvoices
In her futuristic debut novel, Peng Shepherd examines themes of memory and the darkness that forgetting can bring. I haven’t read a lot about this book except for a Library Journal preview and description from the author’s website but it was more than enough to pique my interest.
I am fairly new to speculative fiction but am looking forward to reading more fantasy, sci fi, and afrofuturism this year. I am eager to dive into these genres and The Book of M is on the list.
R.O. Kwon said on Twitter recently that she had been working on her debut novel for a decade and that it’s now a “strange and wonderful feeling” to see it out in the world.
Indeed, The Incendiaries is generating quite a buzz. Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You, says, “The Incendiaries probes the seductive and dangerous places to which we drift when loss unmoors us. In dazzlingly acrobatic prose, R. O. Kwon explores the lines between faith and fanaticism, passion and violence, the rational and the unknowable.”
I’m eager to see how Kwon intertwines terrorism, love, loss, and faith into this much-anticipated story. #ownvoices
Heng’s debut futuristic novel has been described as glittering. Kristen Iskandrian, author of Motherest, said “Suicide Club bends genre with grace and artistry, delivering us to the outermost reaches of what’s familiar and affirming what dares to still exist there: family, friendship, and forgiveness. With superb writing, Rachel Heng has crafted a world inside of a world gone mad, one where love faces its most difficult test. This is an exciting, bold, inventive novel.”
Will her main character chose to live for the 300 years that many do? Or will she instead opt to join the Suicide Club? I can’t wait to find out.
In her debut novel, Rojas Contreras tells the story of two women making their way in war-torn Colombia in the 1990’s. Called “Spellbinding…” by Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans, this book centers women’s experiences with violence, secrecy, and unexpected connections.
Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street, had this to say: “When women tell stories, they are finally at the center of the page. When women of color write history, we see the world as we have never seen it before. In Fruit of the Drunken Tree, Ingrid Rojas Contreras honors the lives of girls who witness war. Brava! I was swept up by this story.”