Nigeria

Review of HEARTS OF CLAY by Dosun Adeleye

Review of HEARTS OF CLAY by Dosun Adeleye

Dosun Adeleye’s Hearts of Clay follows the journey of Grace, a young woman living in the United Kingdom who travels to Nigeria in search of the answer to her life’s mystery. Grace finds herself in some wild situations that test her strength and resolve. While intelligent and independent, Grace’s emotional spirit can get the better of her especially when it comes to love, sex, and secrets.

Review of HEARTS OF CLAY by Dosun Adeleye

The author, Dosun Adeleye.

Dosun Adeleye is especially adept at describing her characters; it is clear that she is passionate about writing them. Our main character sets out to find the question to a lifelong question. Not only does she receive her answer but she gets caught up in adventures that are at times thrilling and at times romantic. To keep this review spoiler-free, I will say no more but let the reader discover the excitement and emotion on their own.

I especially appreciated reading from the perspective of a woman caught in several dichotomies: between life in the UK and life in Nigeria, between familial relationships and her own autonomy, between living life as expected or life as she wants. The protagonist is smart yet impulsive; Grace is not perfect and Adeleye ensures we can see ourselves in her, faults and all. Adeleye’s challenging of social stigmas and gender roles in her writing is admirable.

To be honest, I’m not usually into romances or thrillers, so I am a tough sell in these genres. For me the book was a bit unconvincing and rudimentary at times. Despite this, I don’t doubt that many readers will enjoy this book. The story is one of secrets uncovered, one of trust and abandonment, one of obstacles and ambition. From the outrageous twists to the steamy love scenes to the family drama, Hearts of Clay will appeal to those who appreciate adventurous reads and romantic thrillers, especially those in international settings. Recommended.

Dosun Adeleye can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/Dosunadeleye/.

Summary:

Title: Hearts of Clay
Author: Dosun Adeleye
Publisher:  Dosun Adeleye
Pages: 286 pages
Publication Date: August 30, 2018
Tags: Nigeria, women writers, romance, thriller, UK, family, relationships, #OwnVoices
My Rating: Recommended

Content information: Sexual situations, mild violence

 

 

For further information:

African Book Review review

Dosun Adeleye’s first book, Rosie: A Trip Down Memory Lane

 

This post contains affiliate links; I write what I like. 
Many thanks to the author for the complimentary ebook. 

Best Reads (and Book Gifts) for the Rest of Us - 2018

Best Reads (and Book Gifts) for the Rest of Us – 2018

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.

First, my favorite book of the year:

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Best Reads (and Book Gifts) for the Rest of Us - 2018

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.

Read my review here!

Gift to: Friends who enjoy literary fiction, creative memoirs, or symbolic and layered stories; queer or TGNC friends; those who like reading African writers and just magnificent writing.

And to round out the Top 5:

Best Reads (and Book Gifts) for the Rest of Us - 2018A Little in Love with Everyone by Genevieve Hudson

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.

Read my review here!

Gift to: Writers, readers who enjoy memoir, creative friends, lesbian friends, fans of Alison Bechdel’s work.

 

Black Queer Hoe by Britteney Black Rose Kapri

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

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.

 

Best Reads (and Book Gifts) for the Rest of Us - 2018Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

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.

Read my review here!

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.

 

And the remainder of the Top 10:

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

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.

Read my review here!

Gift to: Those who like international stories, stories of resilience and friendship; friends with girl children; those who appreciate rich characters and holistic plots.

 

Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

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.

Read my review here!

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.

 

Unpologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers

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).

 

Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spires

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.

 

Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists by Naomi Klein

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.

Read my review here!

Gift to: Anyone interested in Puerto Rico, the effects of colonialism, capitalism, and/or natural disasters, or the empowerment of local people to lead the efforts of rebuilding how they see fit.

 

Honorable mentions:

I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

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.

 

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

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.

Read my review here!

Gift to: Those who enjoy historical fiction, engaging or epic plots, full character development, and underdog stories; science-y, adventurous, or fantastical friends.

 

And last, but certainly not least: 

When a Bulbul Sings by Hawaa Ayoub

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.

Read my review here!

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.

A Review of Oyinkan Braithwaite's MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER

A Review of Oyinkan Braithwaite’s MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER

Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer, is a wickedly comedic story of Korede and her sister, Ayoola. Despite their differences, the sisters couldn’t be closer. And while critical of her sister’s decisions and often jealous of the attention she receives from men, Korede is still the protector of Ayoola’s secrets–no matter how deadly.

Set in Nigeria, this story is one of family and loyalty. Ayoola is beautiful, enchanting, and has a problem keeping her boyfriends alive. Korede is the responsible, self-deprecating older sister. As a nurse, she is used to taking care of others and her sister is no exception. As she continually cleans up Ayoola’s messes, Korede begins to question her loyalty to her mischievous sister.

How long can this go on? Can she keep Ayoola’s secrets forever? Should she? What is she getting out of it and would her sister do the same for her?

A Review of Oyinkan Braithwaite's MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER

The author, Oyinkan Braithwaite.

This was a fast-paced story, accessible and entertaining. Braithwaite allows us to peek into life in Lagos, including interactions with police that have Korede worried. I almost felt like I was a friend of the sisters, even though they only truly trust one another.

I was immediately drawn into the fray with Braithwaite’s brisk pacing, short chapters, and darkly humorous writing style. Her subtle hints allow the reader clues into how Korede and Ayoola grew up; reminders of their lives with a violent father and detached mother.

I agree with Parul Sehgal’s review in The NY Times:

There’s a seditious pleasure in its momentum. At a time when there are such wholesome and dull claims on fiction — on its duty to ennoble or train us in empathy — there’s a relief in encountering a novel faithful to art’s first imperative: to catch and keep our attention.

It’s not that the book isn’t deep; it does encourage reflection about family loyalty, courage, right and wrong. But it doesn’t force you into it. You could just read the book purely for entertainment and we need that right now. Somehow reading a book about a serial killer and her enabling sister and enjoying it without judgment feels subversive… and I am here for it.

My Sister, the Serial Killer is one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year. Nigerian authors continue to offer us lithe, clever, and original fiction–add Oyinkan Braithwaite to this list. Highly recommended.

You can find Oyinkan Braithwaite online at https://oyinkanbraithwaite.com/ and on Twitter @OyinBraithwaite

 

A Review of Oyinkan Braithwaite's MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLERSummary:

Title: My Sister, the Serial Killer
Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 228 pages
Publication Date: November 20, 2018
Tags: Nigeria, fiction, women writers, debut
My Rating: Highly recommended

Content information: Violence

 

For more information:

Helping Out Family Is Taken to Extremes in ‘My Sister, the Serial Killer’ by Parul Sehgal for The NY Times

Kirkus review

NPR book review and author interview

Oyinkan Braithwaite speaking on several topics for Atlantic Books

Publishers Weekly review 

A woman on a killing spree gets some help from her enabling sister by Jon Michaud for the Washington Post

 

Thanks to Oyinkan Braithwaite, Doubleday, and NetGalley for the complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links; I write what I like.

 

New Reads for the Rest of Us for November 2018

Welcome to New Reads for the Rest of Us for November 2018!

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 New Reads for the Rest of Us for November 2018. These lists are getting long; I may have to start dividing them up! There are so many great titles here, which will you read??

 

Girls on the Line by Jennie Liu (@starnesliu)

November 1

Tags: Historical fiction, pregnancy, women writers, China

Carolrhoda Lab, 232 pages

“A powerful view into the struggles faced by young women in a world that doesn’t value them–and where they must find strength within themselves and each other.”–Joanne O’Sullivan, author of Between Two Skies

 

 

Queering Kansas City Jazz: Gender, Performance, and the History of a Scene by Amber R. Clifford-Napoleone

Nov. 1

Tags: Music, queer, women writers, US history

University of Nebraska Press, 234 pages

Queering Kansas City Jazz offers a new and exciting perspective on the jazz scene that accompanied the growth of Kansas City from frontier town to metropolitan city during the early twentieth century. It will potentially change the way in which we understand regional identity and recognize those who were pushed into the margins of our social histories.”—Tammy Kernodle, professor of musicology at Miami University and author of Soul on Soul: The Life and Music of Mary Lou Williams

 

Black Love, Black Hate: Intimate Antagonisms in African American Literature by Felice D. Blake (@FeliceBlake)

November 2

Tags: Literature, literary criticism, women writers

Ohio State University Press, 156 pages

“Black Love, Black Hate is the first book to uncover the role of intimate antagonisms in the ongoing production of African American literature. Felice Blake teaches us how African American literature becomes a type of ‘town meeting that cannot meet anywhere else.’”–Margo Natalie Crawford, author of Black Post-Blackness: The Black Arts Movement and Twenty-First-Century Aesthetics

 

Beyoncé in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism by Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley

Nov. 6

Tags: Feminism, Black women, women writers

University of Texas Press, 216 pages

“You’ll come away from each chapter with a new appreciation of what Beyoncé has meant to women, particularly black women, across the country.”–The Current

“Sure to appeal to scholars and pop-culture enthusiasts alike, this provocative book works to blur the lines between straight and gay black feminism. . . Lively and intelligent reading.”–Kirkus Reviews

 

Beyond the Call: Three Women on the Front Lines in Afghanistan by Eileen Rivers (@msdc14)

November 6

Tags: Afghanistan, military, women writers, biography, history

Da Capo Press, 275 pages

“[The] story of the fight for women’s rights in a country where the male power structure opposes them…Compelling. The author’s own military experience gives the book a perspective that is especially useful. A solid, fact-filled look at an underreported piece of the American military.”–Kirkus Reviews

 

Do You See Ice?: Inuit and Americans at Home and Away by Karen Routledge

November 6

Tags: Women writers, Canadian history, Canada, First Nations, Native Americans, Inuit

University of Chicago Press, 272 pages

The author intends to donate all royalties from this book to the Elders’ Room at the Angmarlik Center in Pangnirtung, Nunavut.

“Weaving together stories told by Inuit men and women with those set down by white men who chased whales, wealth, and adventure, Do You See Ice? lets us consider what it has meant to travel, to be lost, to be homesick, and finally, to be home.”–Ann Fabian, author of The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America’s Unburied Dead

 

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean (@emikojeanbooks)

November 6

Tags: YA, fantasy, romance, folklore

HMH Books for Young Readers, 384 pages

“With rich mythology and elegant atmosphere, Empress of All Seasons will latch onto your imagination and sweep you along for a magical and dangerous ride.”–Joelle Charbonneau, New York Times best-selling author of The Testing Trilogy

Girls on Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (@girlinthelens)

November 6

Tags: YA, fantasy, LGBTQ

Jimmy Patterson, 400 pages

“Thrust into the beauty and horror of the Hidden Palace, will this Paper Girl survive? Ideal for those seeking diverse LGBTQ fantasy stories.”–Kirkus

 

 

Hide with Me by Sorboni Banerjee (@sorbonified)

November 6

Tags: YA, women writers, debut

Razorbill, 366 pages

“Suspenseful and gritty, Hide With Me is a beautifully written novel that captivates from the very first page.”–Robin Roe, author of A List of Cages

 

 

The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim (@Eugenia_Kim)

November 6

Tags: Korea, women writers, #OwnVoices, coming of age, family

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 304 pages

“I felt as though I had stepped into a graceful story of two countries, South Korea and America, and family ties that survive the challenges of history.”–Krys Lee, author of How I Became a North Korean

“What an extraordinary time to read this heartfelt novel about the bonds of family, set against the backdrop of the Korean War. Eugenia Kim is a masterful storyteller who makes her characters come to life as she spans decades, continents, and cultures.”–Jung Yun, author of Shelter

 

The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories by Yukiko Motoya and Asa Yoneda (Translator)

November 6

Tags: Japan, short stories, women writers

Soft Skull Press, 224 pages

The Millions Most Anticipated in the Second Half of 2018

“This inventive and chilling volume will have U.S. audiences craving more from Motoya.”–Library Journal

 

Monument: Poems New and Selected by Natasha Trethewey (@NTrethewey)

November 6

Tags: Black women, poetry, women writers

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 208 pages

“The poems are haunting reflections on a mother’s murder, the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, an early 20th-century prostitute in New Orleans, a regiment of black soldiers guarding Confederate POWs, mixed-race families and the black working class. The opening poem, a new one, titled ‘Imperatives for Carrying On in the Aftermath,’ ends with an emotional punch to the gut that sets the tone for what follows.”–Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Those Who Knew by Idra Novey (@IdraNovey)

November 6

Tags: Politics, literary, contemporary women, women writers

Viking, 256 pages

“Genius. That’s what I kept thinking as I read this novel that somehow combines an invented island, a political bookstore, fragments of a stage production, and a story that’s at once a damning critique of craven self-interest and a tale about our inescapable connectedness. Idra Novey has written an irreverent, magical, perfect puzzle of a book.”–Cristina Henriquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans

 

Black. Queer. Southern. Women.: An Oral History by E. Patrick Johnson

November 12

Tags: Queer, Black women, oral history, US history

University of North Carolina Press, 592 pages

“An amazing work that reflects Johnson’s passion, care for his subjects, sharp analytical skills, and standing in the field.”–Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Spelman College

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama)

November 13

Tags: Black women, women writers, politics, memoir, #OwnVoices

Crown, 400 pages

“An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.”–Description

 

 

Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha) by Tasha Suri (@tashadrinkstea)

November 13

Tags: Fantasy, debut, women writers

Orbit, 496 pages

“A darkly intricate, devastating, and utterly original story about the ways we are bound by those we love.”–R. F. Kuang, author of The Poppy War

 

 

Fade Into You by Nikki Darling

November 13

Tags: Literary fiction, women writers, Latinx, debut

Feminist Press at CUNY, 224 pages

“A deeply personal mythology interwoven with the fibers of LA, simultaneously shaped by and shaping our city, Nikki Darling’s Fade Into You is a poetic portrait of a young girl’s life in the Angeleno multiverse.”–Alice Bag, author of Violence Girl

 

First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story by Huda Al-Marashi (@HudaAlMarashi)

November 13

Tags: Women writers, Iraq, memoir, #OwnVoices

Prometheus Books, 304 pages

“Told with exuberance and honesty, First Comes Marriage is a charming, delightful memoir of love and self-discovery. Huda Al-Marashi has written a smart, down-to-earth, and unforgettable modern-day love story that celebrates the enduring bonds of culture, faith, and family. A wonderful book.”–Jasmin Darznik, New York Times–bestselling author of Song of a Captive Bird

 

Insurrecto by Gina Apostol

November 13

Tags: War, family, women writers, Philippines

Soho Press, 336 pages

“Gina Apostol—a smart writer, a sharp critic, a keen intellectual—takes on the vexed relationship between the Philippines and the United States, pivoting on that relationship’s bloody origins. Insurrecto is meta-fictional, meta-cinematic, even meta-meta, plunging us into the vortex of memory, history, and war where we can feel what it means to be forgotten, and what it takes to be remembered.”–Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author The Sympathizer

 

All the Lives We Never Lived: A Novel by Anuradha Roy

November 20

Tags: India, women writers, family, literary

Atria, 288 pages

“[Roy] is a writer of great subtlety and intelligence, who understands that emotional power comes from the steady accretion of detail….[All the Lives We Never Lived] does not directly refer to #MeToo or the macho hyper-nationalism of today’s India. But in its portrayal of power structures, it is part of those very contemporary political conversations. It is also a beautifully written and compelling story of how families fall apart and of what remains in the aftermath.”–Kamila Shamsie, The Guardian

My review is coming soon!

 

Ask Me Again by E. J. Noyes (@zgrokit)

November 20

Tags: Lesbian, romance, military

Bella Books, 288 pages

“There’s no doubt that both Sabine and Rebecca want the same thing. But how do you help the most important person in your life when they don’t want to need your help?

Ask Me Again is the must-read sequel to the best-selling Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”–Description

 

Cameron’s Rules by Baxter Brown

November 20

Tags: Lesbian, romance

Bella Books, 266 pages

“When screenwriter Julie Carter accidentally spills hot coffee all over her, lawyer Cameron Kassen is convinced that her day can’t get any worse. But Cameron’s mood quickly improves when Julie starts to flirt with her. Only in town for a couple of days, they both lament that the flirtation can go nowhere.

Fiction mirrors reality and when Julie decides to add a surprise alternate ending to the story, Cameron is presented with a puzzle. Only by solving it will she be able to unlock the ending Julie intends just for her…but will it also unlock her heart?”–Description

 

Last Days of Theresienstadt by Eva Noack-Mosse with Skye Doney (Translator) and Biruté Ciplijauskaité (Translator)

November 20

Tags: History, memoir, Holocaust, women writers, nonfiction, #OwnVoices

“Includes the rare account of someone involved in the continuing administration of the camp after the war, facing the issues of epidemic and quarantine and coping with the inquiries from relatives seeking any word of their family members’ fates.”–Christopher Browning, author of Remembering Survival

 

Love in the New Millennium by Can Xue and Annelise Finegan Wasmoen (Translator)

November 20

Tags: Translation, women writers, China, literary fiction, #OwnVoices

Yale University Press, 288 pages

“Ambitious . . . masterful . . . Can Xue’s superb experimental novel is sure to keep readers hooked.”–Emily Park, Booklist

Love in the New Millennium is, as always with Can Xue’s work, a marvel. She is one of the most innovative and important contemporary writers in China and, in my opinion, in world literature.”–Bradford Morrow, author of The Prague Sonata

 

My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite (@OyinBraithwaite)

November 20

Tags: Nigeria, Black women, women writers, debut, humor, #OwnVoices

Doubleday, 240 pages

“Who is more dangerous? A femme fatale murderess or the quiet, plain woman who cleans up her messes? In My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite answers that question with an original and compelling debut. I never knew what was going to happen, but found myself pulling for both sisters, as I relished the creepiness and humor of this modern noir.”–Helen Ellis, New York Times bestselling author of American Housewife

My review coming soon!

 

Not Just a Tomboy: A Trans Masculine Memoir by Caspar Baldwin (@CasparBaldwin)

Nov. 21

Tags: Trans, memoir, #OwnVoices, queer

Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 248 pages

“As someone who was called a tomboy growing up as well, it gives invaluable and often ignored insight into the life of a trans masculine person. Strong, powerful and a valuable resource about the importance of supporting trans youth, regardless of their gender expression.”–Fox Fisher, film maker, artist and campaigner

 

How Long ’til Black Future Month?: Stories by N. K. Jemisin (@nkjemisin)

November 27

Tags: Women writers, short stories, science fiction

Orbit, 416 pages

“The stories are wonderful. In worlds both invariably cruel and brilliantly imagined, heroism thrives in the margins.”–Nicky Drayden, author of The Prey of Gods

 

Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson (@andreagibson)

November 27

Tags: Poetry, lesbian, loss, romance

Button Poetry, 96 pages

“Andrea Gibson’s latest collection is a masterful showcase from the poet whose writing and performances have captured the hearts of millions. With artful and nuanced looks at gender, romance, loss, and family, Lord of the Butterflies is a new peak in Gibson’s career. Each emotion here is deft and delicate, resting inside of imagery heavy enough to sink the heart, while giving the body wings to soar.”–Description

 

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Sohaila Abdulali (@SohailaAbdulali)

November 27

Tags: Violence, feminism, India, #OwnVoices, women writers

The New Press, 224 pages

“If the #MeToo campaign is to have any lasting impact . . . it will be because of books such as this.”–Preti Taneja, author of We That Are Young

“The right to our own bodies is the first step in any democracy, and by that measure, women in general—especially those of us also devalued by race, caste, or class—are still subject to an intimate dictatorship. Read the personal stories in What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape and see how far we have come—and have yet to go.”–Gloria Steinem

 

Settlin’: Stories of Madison’s Early African American Families by Muriel Simms

Nov. 28

Tags: Wisconsin, US history, women writers

Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 224 pages

“Only a fraction of what is known about Madison’s earliest African American settlers and the vibrant and cohesive communities they formed has been preserved in traditional sources. The rest is contained in the hearts and minds of their descendants. Seeing a pressing need to preserve these experiences, lifelong Madison resident Muriel Simms collected the stories of twenty-five African Americans whose families arrived, survived, and thrived here in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”–Description

 

Those are the New Reads for the Rest of Us for November 2018! What are you reading this month??

 

This post contains affiliate links.

 

Review of Ogenna Ojukwu's THE TEACHER, THE SEAMSTRESS AND THE PIANIST

Review of Ogenna Ojukwu’s THE TEACHER, THE SEAMSTRESS AND THE PIANIST

Ogenna Ojukwu’s debut novel, The Teacher, the Seamstress and the Pianist, is a multilayered story of intertwining lives and the effect that love and loss in the past can have on the present.

The story takes place in Lagos, Nigeria, in the early 2000s and centers on Onyeka, the teacher. Onyeka is married to Arum but after years of trying to have a child, to no avail, their marriage begins to suffer. Onyeka instead cares for her nephew, Anieto, and Chidiebere, her housemaid.

But this was before Chidiebere and Anieto began living with her, before she would see them as the children she never had, before they would resuscitate in her, a renewed urging to live.

Review of Ogenna Ojukwu's THE TEACHER, THE SEAMSTRESS AND THE PIANIST

The author, Ogenna Ojukwu.

Chidiebere is from the local village and at the beginning of the story we see her travel back there to attend the funeral of her estranged father, who died under violent circumstances. Onyeka had offered to take Chidiebere in and send her to school; Onyeka’s dream for Chidiebere was for her to go to university but Chidiebere longed to be a seamstress.

Anieto, too, had lost his father to violence; after that, he moved in with Onyeka while his mother moved to England to build a new life for them. And perhaps you guessed it: Anieto is the pianist.

The book follows the three main characters, their hopes and their challenges. The characters in Ojukwu’s story are well-developed. I felt empathy for them at times but also frustration when they made decisions I didn’t agree with. It is a talented storyteller who can create characters in this way, and Ojukwu is such a storyteller.

The author adeptly illustrates the complexities of family relationships and takes on some traditional gender norms regarding marriage and childbearing. We see Onyeka struggling because the responsibility for getting pregnant and having children seems to fall squarely on her; so of course when she doesn’t get pregnant, she is blamed and carries the shame of it.

It was her fault. It was all her fault; it was she who let his love slip away with her childlessness.

There are also messages in the book that encourage the reader to reflect upon cultural expectations concerning employment, class, education, village versus urban life, traditions versus modern ways. It also made me think of the role violence plays in some cultures, families, and relationships. Ojukwu takes on many issues in this book but I didn’t feel overwhelmed by this; I felt as though I was getting a look into the lives of a modern Nigerian family which, like any family, has its ups and downs, its celebrations and its secrets.

I read books written by international authors in part because of the things I learn about the country and culture while enjoying the story. In this case, Ojukwu includes details from the language and traditions of Nigeria that adds authenticity and make the settings come alive. In a few places, the book could’ve used a bit more editing but it isn’t much and it doesn’t distract from the the story. Overall, I appreciated the arc of the story and the trust Ojukwu places in his reader, to open up his world and let us in.

I am enjoying the Nigerian fiction I have been reading lately; I am no expert but from what I have been reading (see links below), this latest generation of Nigerian writers has shifted in focus a bit with regards to nationalism, sharing and challenging their culture, and framing their stories through Nigerian traditions with a modern twist. In a recent interview, Ogenna Ojukwu described contemporary African literature with great admiration:

Reading [Chimamanda Adichie’s] novels always left me with a yearning to pick up the pen, the laptop, a phone and just write. And of course there are a lot of other writers off this promising stable, doing great things. Ayobami Adebayo had an impactful debut. There are Taiye Selasi, Yaa Gyasi, Chibundu Onozu, Nnedi Okorafor, Helon Habila  and Chigozie Obioma, all producing phenomenal works. Note that many of these wonderful writers are female and so there is a challenge of sorts to male African writers to produce work of matching prominence.

On the whole, this was an enjoyable book. The story held my interest and I felt invested in the characters. While based in Nigeria, The Teacher, the Seamstress and the Pianist has something for anyone who appreciates family dramas, complex women main characters, and layered plot development. I look forward to reading more by Ogenna Ojukwu and other Nigerian authors. Recommended.

You can find Ogenna Ojukwu online at https://ogennaojukwu.com/ and on Twitter @OgennaO. 

Summary:

Review of Ogenna Ojukwu's THE TEACHER, THE SEAMSTRESS AND THE PIANIST

Title: The Teacher, the Seamstress and the Pianist
Author: Ogenna Ojukwu
Publisher: Juba Books
Pages: 332 pages
Publication Date: May 30, 2018
Tags: Family, relationships, Nigeria
My Rating: Recommended

Content information: Infertility, suicide, violence

 

For further reading:

 

Have you read anything by Nigerian or other African writers? Which are your favorites?

 

This post contains affiliate links; I write what I like.
Thanks to Ogenna Ojukwu for the complimentary copy of his book in exchange for an honest review. 

New Reads for September

New Reads for the Rest of Us for September 2018

Welcome to New Reads for the Rest of Us for September 2018!

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 New Reads for the Rest of Us for September 2018. There are so many great titles here, which will you read??

 

All Roads Lead to Blood by Bonnie Chau (@bonniecchau)

September 1

Tags: Short stories, women writers, debut, Chinese

Santa Fe Writer’s Project, 166 pages

Winner of the 2040 Books Prize

“The intensity and desire of youth, with the wisdom of wild imagination, fill these wonderful stories by Chau. This unforgettable, stellar debut kept surprising me with fantastical turns, and sharp, unsettling insights.”–Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances

 

Black Women in Politics: Demanding Citizenship, Challenging Power, and Seeking Justice by Julia S. Jordan-Zachery, Nikol G. Alexander-Floyd (editors)

September 1

Tags: Black women, politics, women writers, #OwnVoices, essays

SUNY Press, 314 pages

Black Women in Politics offers a new perspective on Black women as political actors. Jordan-Zachery and Alexander-Floyd have assembled a stellar group of essays that speak to the broad experiences and concerns of Black women as political actors. Together, the essays present a compelling story of what we learn when we center Black women’s voices in policy debates, democratic theory, and notions of political leadership.”–Wendy Smooth, The Ohio State University

 

A Certain Loneliness: A Memoir by Sandra Gail Lambert (@sandralambert)

September 1

Tags: Dis/abilities, women writers, #OwnVoices, memoir, queer

“Having pushed her wheelchair past two hundred alligators, Lambert has written a brilliant and necessary account of a wise and triumphant life as a writer, activist, kayaker, lesbian lover, birder, and survivor of polio. I’m in awe of her gifts.”–Carolyn Forché, author of The Country Between Us

 

 

Claiming the B in LGBT: Illuminating the Bisexual Narrative by Kate Harrad (editor) (@katyha)

September 1

Tags: Bisexual, essays

Thorntree Press, 344 pages

Claiming the B in LGBT strives to give bisexuals a seat at the table. This guidebook to the history and future of the bisexual movement fuses a chronology of bisexual organizing with essays, poems, and articles detailing the lived experiences of bisexual activities struggling against a dominant culture driven by norms of monosexual attraction, compulsory monogamy, and inflexible notions of gender expression and identity.”–Description

 

The Lost Pages by Marija Pericic

September 1

Tags: Debut, women writers, friendship

“… cleverly structured and an intriguing concept.”–Jenny Barry, BooksPlus

“From the very beginning, the strain between Kafka and Brod is hugely entertaining. Brod is anti-social and prefers his own company, just like the best of Kafka’s characters.”–Rohan Wilson, award winning author of The Roving Party and To Name Those Lost

 

Mother of Invention edited by Rivqa Rafael (@enoughsnarkand Tansy Rayner Roberts (@tansyrr)

September 1

Tags: Queer, women writers, speculative fiction, gender, short stories

Twelfth Planet Press, 396 pages

“All of the familiar tropes of mad science and the creation of artificial life get turned on their heads in the most gloriously feminist way in Mother of Invention. It turns out when the person who’s Playing God is female, the story suddenly gets a lot more interesting.”–Charlie Jane Anders

 

Okanagan Grouse Woman: Upper Nicola Narratives by Lottie Lindley and John Lyon

September 1

Tags: Native American, short stories, oral history

University of Nebraska Press; Reprint edition, 510 pages

“The collection is masterfully constructed, reflecting Lottie Lindley’s distinctive narrative voice in Okanagan and in English. At once a carefully annotated documentation of the Okanagan language as well as a record of history, culture, and land, the book is a testament to the power of narrative in Okanagan and a wonderful gift to future generations.”–Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins, associate professor of linguistics at the University of Victoria

 

Punching and Kicking: Leaving Canada’s Toughest Neighbourhood by Kathy Dobson (@Kathy_Dobson)

September 1

Tags: Canada, poverty, memoir, women writers, #OwnVoices, family

Véhicule Press, 240 pages

“People don’t leave the Point, even if they move far away. Or at least that’s how it seems to journalist Kathy Dobson. Growing up in the 1970s in Point St. Charles, an industrial slum in Montreal, she sees how people get trapped in the neighborhood. In this sequel to the highly praised With a Closed Fist, Dobson shares her journey of trying to escape from what was once described as the toughest neighborhood in Canada.”–Description

 

Shadowboxer by Jessica L. Webb (@JessicaLWebb1)

September 1 on Bold Strokes Books

September 11 on Amazon

Tags: Lesbian, romance, sports, #OwnVoices

Bold Strokes Books, 242 pages

“After a tough childhood and a brief and bruising career as a boxer, Jordan McAddie isn’t sure she has anything left to offer in a relationship. Desperately trying to make a difference, she focuses on becoming a social worker and helping street kids find their way. But someone is targeting her kids, luring them to an underground political group whose protests are becoming increasingly more provocative and dangerous.

When Ali Clarke – Jordan’s first love and first broken heart – walks back into her life and becomes intertwined with the youth boxing program, Jordan is torn between past and present. Dedicated to keeping her kids safe, Jordan fights old fears that she will never be good enough, while trying to believe she might have a future with Ali.”–Description

 

Sinjar: 14 Days that Saved the Yazidis from Islamic State by Susan Shand

September 1

Tags: Iraq, history, women writers, military

Lyons Press, 268 pages

“This is the extraordinary tale of how a few American-Yazidis in Washington, DC, mobilized a small, forgotten office in the American government to intervene militarily in Iraq to avert a devastating humanitarian crisis. While Islamic State massacred many thousands of Yazidi men and sold thousands more Yazidi women into slavery, the U.S. intervention saved the lives of 50,000 Yazidis.”–Description

 

Toppled World: A Political and Spiritual Trek through India, Tibet and Afghanistan by Susan Murphy

September 1

Tags: India, Tibet, Afghanistan, biography, women writers, history

Bedazzled Ink Publishing, 260 pages

“As a child, Sudha Johorey witnessed the horrific events that followed the partition of India into two bitter rival nations. Sudha was a feminist before her time, a pioneer in rural education, a seeker of the divine, a true Renaissance woman. Susan Murphy had the opportunity to accompany Sudha Johorey to Dharamsala in 2005, where they were afforded a private audience with the Dalai Lama, who encouraged Murphy to write Sudha’s amazing story.”–Description

 

Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House by April Ryan (@AprilDRyan)

September 1

Tags: Journalism, politics, #OwnVoices, women writers

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 192 pages

“April’s experience, knowledge, and judgment are on full display in this book. She understands the political process at the highest levels and has never been afraid to ask the tough questions off-record or with the eyes of the world on her or when her courage and mettle have been put to the test. All of these skills come together in a compelling volume that blends her insights with the very questions that we should all be confronting at this unique moment in history.”–Thurgood Marshall, Jr.

 

Vita & Virginia: The Lives and Love of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West by Sarah Gristwood (@sarahgristwood)

September 1

Tags: Literature, women writers, biography, queer

“Virginia Woolf is one of the world’s most famous writers, and a leading light of literary modernism and feminism. During the 1920s she had a passionate affair with a fellow author, Vita Sackville-West, and they remained friends until Virginia’s death in 1941. This double biography of two extraordinary women examines their lives together and apart.”–Description

 

Zanele Muholi: Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness by Renée Mussai (Author), Zanele Muholi (@MuholiZanele(Photographer)

September 1

Tags: Arts, photography, women writers, #OwnVoices, South Africa, Black women

Aperture, 212 pages

“Zanele Muholi (born in Umlazi, Durban, South Africa, 1972) is a visual activist and photographer, cofounder of the Forum for the Empowerment of Women, and founder of Inkanyiso, a forum for queer and visual media.”–Amazon

“This is the long-awaited monograph from one of the most powerful visual activists of our time. The book features over ninety of Muholi’s evocative self-portraits, each image drafted from material props in Muholi’s immediate environment.”–Description

 

After the Winter by Guadalupe Nettel (@nettelgand Rosalind Harvey (Translator)

September 4

Tags: Women writers, thriller, contemporary women, translation

Coffee House Press (reprint), 264 pages

“A compassionately written portrait of urban loneliness and the human impulse to belong.”–Kirkus

“Guadalupe Nettel’s After the Winter is a dazzling excavation of the glimmering particularities of consciousness, and how a collision of fates can transform our inner worlds. This taut, atmospheric novel is an ode to the complicated heartbreak of loving what will forever be just out of reach.”–Laura van den Berg

 

Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang (@Sisonkemsimang)

September 4

Tags: Memoir, Africa, women writers, #OwnVoices

World Editions, 368 pages

“Brutally and uncompromisingly honest, Sisonke’s beautifully crafted storytelling enriches the already extraordinary pool of young African women writers of our time. Sisonke, a child of the Struggle, revisits the metamorphosis of the value system embraced by the liberation movements and emerges as a powerful free spirit, nurtured by its resilient core values.”–Graça Machel

 

Black Queer Hoe by Britteney Black Rose Kapri (@BlkRseKapri)

September 4

Tags: Black women, women writers, poetry, queer, debut, #OwnVoices

Haymarket Press, 120 pages

“Black Queer Hoe is a refreshing, unapologetic intervention into ongoing conversations about the line between sexual freedom and sexual exploitation. Women’s sexuality is often used as a weapon against them. In this powerful debut, Britteney Black Rose Kapri lends her unmistakable voice to fraught questions of identity, sexuality, reclamation, and power, in a world that refuses Black Queer women permission to define their own lives and boundaries.”–Description

UPDATE:  Just read this book and it is EVERYTHING.

 

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani 

September 4

Tags: Nigeria, #OwnVoices, women writers, family

Katherine Tegen Books, 336 pages

“Unflinching in its direct view of an ongoing tragedy, this important novel will open discussions about human rights and violence against women and girls worldwide.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Nigerian author Nwaubani [paints] beautiful portraits of the joy, hope, and traditions experienced by this girl, her friends, and family with the same masterful strokes as the ones depicting the dreadful agony, loss, and grief they endure. A worthy piece of work that superbly and empathetically tells a heartbreaking tale.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

 

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises by Rebecca Solnit

September 4

Tags: Violence, feminism, women writers, essays

Haymarket, 166 pages

“Rebecca Solnit is essential feminist reading.”–The New Republic

“Solnit’s exquisite essays move between the political and the personal, the intellectual and the earthy.”–ELLE

 

Flat: Reclaiming My Body from Breast Cancer by Catherine Guthrie (@cat_guthrie)

September 4

Tags: Health, feminism, women writers, memoir, queer

Skyhorse Publishing, 264 pages

“A feminist breast cancer memoir of medical trauma, love, and how she found the strength to listen to her body.”–Description

“Guthrie’s refreshing femininity doesn’t fit the familiar cancer narrative. Informed by both the nuances of queer identity and a women’s health journalist’s insider knowledge, this memoir is a welcome punk rock to breast cancer’s pink-washing. Unflinching, eloquent, and richly intimate, Flat has shaken me, inspired me, prepared me for what could happen.”–Angela Palm, author, Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here

 

Isako Isako by Mia Ayumi Malhotra

September 4

Tags: Japan, debut, family, poetry

Alice James Books, 100 pages

“The personal pronoun I has brinks on all sides, over which you can fall and become anyone and no one. Isako Isako deeply explores these soaring and dangerous precipices of identity through the magnetic voice of a Japanese-American internment camp survivor who is both an individual and collective, a citizen and a prisoner, broken and healing. Mia Ayumi Malhotra has written a brilliant and searing debut.”–Maria Hummel

 

I Should Have Honor: A Memoir of Hope and Pride in Pakistan by Khalida Brohi

September 4

Tags: Pakistan, women writers, #OwnVoices, violence, memoir, activism, feminism

Random House, 224 pages

“Khalida Brohi understands the true nature of honor. She is fearless in her pursuit of justice and equality.”–Malala Yousafzai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

“Khalida Brohi’s moving story is a testament to what is possible no matter the odds. In her courageous activism and now in I Should Have Honor, Khalida gives a voice to the women and girls who are denied their own by society. This book is a true act of honor.”–Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org

 

Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage by Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar)

September 4

Tags: YA, essays, girls, trans, race, #OwnVoices

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 320 pages

“Each tale is a soulful testament to the endurance of the human spirit and reminds readers that they are not alone in their search for self. An unflinchingly honest book that should be required reading for every young person in America.”–Kirkus, starred review

“An invaluable collection of snapshots of American society.”–VOYA, starred review

 

Ponti by Sharlene Teo (@treebirds)

September 4

Tags: Friendship, coming of age, women writers, contemporary women

Simon & Schuster, 304 pages

“At once a subtle critique of the pressures of living in a modern Asian metropolis; a record of the swiftness and ruthlessness with which Southeast Asia has changed over the last three decades; a portrait of the old juxtaposed with the new (and an accompanying dialogue between nostalgia and cynicism); an exploration of the relationship between women against the backdrop of social change; and, occasionally, a love story—all wrapped up in the guise of a teenage coming-of-age novel. . . . Teo is brilliant.”–The Guardian

My review of this title is coming soon!

 

Terra Nullius: a novel by Claire G. Coleman

September 4

Tags: Dystopian, family, women writers, Indigenous Australian (South Coast Noongar), debut

Small Beer Press, 320 pages

“Claire G. Coleman’s Terra Nulllius is an arresting and original novel that addresses the legacy of Australia’s violent colonial history. . . . Coleman’s punchy prose is insistent throughout, its energy unflagging. Terra Nullius is a novel for our times, one whose tone is as impassioned as its message is necessary.”–Stella Prize Judges’ Report

 

Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story by Wyomia Tyus with Elizabeth Terzakis

September 4

Tags: Sports, women writers, Black women, memoir, #OwnVoices

Edge of Sports [reprint ed.], 288 pages

“Wyomia Tyus may not be as well known as Wilma Rudolph or Billie Jean King, but her athletic accomplishments and life story are equally captivating, as related in this remarkable and inspiring memoir…This deeply moving book by one of our greatest athletes makes indelible statements about integrity, growing up black in the South, social activism, gender equality, and inclusion.”–Booklist (starred review)

 

The Grind: Black Women and Survival in the Inner City by Alexis S. McCurn

September 10

Tags: Women writers, urban, Black women

Rutgers University Press, 200 pages

“Few scholars have explored the collective experiences of women living in the inner city and the innovative strategies they develop to navigate daily life in this setting. The Grind illustrates the lived experiences of poor African American women and the creative strategies they develop to manage these events and survive in a community commonly exposed to violence.”–Description

 

#FashionVictim: A Novel by Amina Akhtar (@Drrramina)

September 11

Tags: Debut, women writers, thriller, humor

Crooked Lane Books

“Hilariously funny as well as profoundly unsettling . . . will keep readers hooked and laughing, if a bit uncomfortably, from Page 1 until the shocking ending.”–Kirkus

“Full of suspense, social satire, and deliciously dark humor, #FashionVictim gives ‘killer wardrobe’ a whole new meaning. I couldn’t put it down.”–Alison Gaylin, USA Today Bestselling Author of If I Die Tonight

 

How Does It Feel to Be Unwanted?: Stories of Resistance and Resilience from Mexicans Living in the United States by Eileen Truax (@EileenTruax)

September 11

Tags: Mexico, women writers, immigration, Latinx

Beacon Press, 216 pages

“An urgent book for our times. When immigrant voices are being silenced, when immigrant families are being torn apart, when immigrant youth are being denied their right to dream of a better future, this book inspires us to see, to listen, and to understand. Above all, it celebrates the tenacity and resilience of a community whose stories are, without any doubt, part of the American experience.”–Reyna Grande, author of The Distance Between Us

 

Maggie Terry by Sarah Schulman (@sarahschulman3)

September 11

Tags: Queer, mystery, women writers

The Feminist Press at CUNY, 272 pages

“A sprawling exploration of New York nostalgia, police brutality, addiction memoir, and queer love, with a mystery as the cherry on top.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Sarah Schulman’s startling brilliance and wry humor is everything.”–Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn

 

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson (@ProfCAnderson)

September 11

Tags: Politics, women writers, history

Bloomsbury Publishing, 288 pages

“This whiplash-inducing chronicle of how a nation that just a few short years ago elected its first black president now finds itself in the throes of a deceitful and craven effort to rip this most essential of American rights from millions of its citizens.”–Booklist

“A ripped-from-the-headlines book . . . Anderson is a highly praised academic who has mastered the art of gathering information and writing for a general readership, and her latest book could not be more timely.”–Kirkus

 

Ordinary People: A Novel by Diana Evans (@DianaEvansOP)

September 11

Tags: Urban, family, literary, women writers

Liveright, 320 pages

“If Ordinary People is about compromise, it is also about how we live today and, refreshingly, Evans shows this through the prism of black and mixed-race identities, conjuring an urban milieu that is middle-class and non-white…. [This novel] has universal appeal in its reflections on love and yet carries a glorious local specificity…. It could easily be reimagined for the screen, though the film would not capture the sheer energy and effervescence of Evans’s funny, sad, magnificent prose.”–Arifa Akbar, The Guardian

 

Perfectly Clear: Escaping Scientology and Fighting for the Woman I Love by Michelle LeClair and Robin Gaby Fisher

September 11

Tags: Religion, lesbian, memoir, #OwnVoices

Berkley, 304 pages

“The revelatory memoir by former ‘poster girl for Scientology’ Michelle LeClair about her defection from the Church, her newly accepted sexual identity, and the lengths to which Scientology went to silence it.”–Description

 

Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly (@schemaly )

September 11

Tags: Women writers, sexuality, feminism

Atria, 416 pages

“How many women cry when angry because we’ve held it in for so long? How many discover that anger turned inward is depression? Soraya Chemaly’s Rage Becomes Her will be good for women, and for the future of this country. After all, women have a lot to be angry about.”–Gloria Steinem

 

The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman (@sarahw)

September 11

Tags: Biography, true crime, women writers, history

Ecco, 320 pages

“A tantalizing, entertaining true-life detective and literary story.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Spine-straightening. . . . Weinman’s sensitive insights into Horner’s struggle play in stunning counterpoint to her illuminations of Nabokov’s dark obsession and literary daring, and Lolita’s explosive impact.”–Booklist

 

She Would Be King: A Novel by Wayétu Moore (@Wayetu) 

September 11

Tags: Liberia, magical realism, women writers, historical fiction, debut

Graywolf, 312 page

“In this vibrant story of the African diaspora, Moore, a talented storyteller and a daring writer, illuminates with radiant and exacting prose the tumultuous roots of a country inextricably bound to the United States. She Would Be King is a novel of profound depth set against a vast canvas and a transcendent debut from a major new author.”–Description

My review of this title is coming soon!

 

Standing Our Ground: The Triumph of Faith Over Gun Violence: A Mother’s Story by Lucia Kay McBath (@LucyWins2018with Rosemarie Robotham

September 11

Tags: Memoir, violence, race, politics, women writers, #OwnVoices

Atria / 37 INK, 256 pages

“Lucy, in the face of tragedy, turned her sorrow into a strategy, and her mourning into a movement.”–Hillary Clinton

“What awes me about Lucia is not simply the fact of having endured the loss of a child in the manner she did, but her sheer strength of character, which has allowed her to turn that loss into our gain. Lucia has taken it as her mission to live beyond the pain of her loss and to prevent more of our children from meeting at those crossroads.”–Ta-Nehisi Coates, New York Times bestselling author of Between the World and Me

 

She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak by Azeenarh Mohammed (@xeenarh), Chitra Nagarajan (@chitranagarajan ‏), and Rafeeat Aliyu (@rafeeeeta ‏)

September 12

Tags: Queer, Nigeria, Black women, women writers, trans

Cassava Republic Press, 340 pages

“We put together this collection of twenty-five narratives to correct the invisibility, the confusion, the caricaturising and the writing out of queer women from history.”–Description

 

Pan–African American Literature: Signifyin(g) Immigrants in the Twenty-First Century by Stephanie Li 

September 14

Rutgers University Press, 190 pages

“Timely and promising, Pan-African American Literature will make a major and distinctive contribution to African American studies, cultural studies, and American literary studies.”–Michele Elam author of The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium

 

Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation by Imani Perry (@imaniperry)

September 14

Tags: Feminism, gender, Black women, women writers

Duke University Press Books, 304 pages

“Imani Perry’s Vexy Thing is a strong and confidently argued statement for a kind of feminism that attends in new ways to how logics of gender domination are part of wider logics of domination—how regimes of gender must be considered under a lens that also makes visible austerity and neoliberalism, hypermedia and the security state. Vexy Thing expands our notions of what a feminist critic can do while giving the reader a real sense of an important intellectual at work.”–Sara Ahmed, author of Living a Feminist Life

 

African American Girls and the Construction of Identity: Class, Race, and Gender by Sheila Walker

September 15 (Kindle; hardcover out in October)

Tags: Black women, girls, race, women writers

Lexington Books, 204 pages

If anyone is curious about the depth and scope of the sociocultural and psychological experiences and profiles of young African American women then this book should be kept close by for use as a reference and a resource. With a wealth of interesting material and a clear and accommodating, yet sufficiently rigourous, framework, anyone who studies these pages will come out a richer person.–Joseph Trimble, Western Washington University

 

All the Stars Denied by Guadalupe García McCall (@ggmccall)

September 15

Tags: YA, historical fiction, women writers

Tu Books, 324 pages

“When Estrella organizes a protest against the treatment of tejanos in their town of Monteseco, Texas, her whole family becomes a target of ‘repatriation’ efforts to send Mexicans ‘back to Mexico’–whether they were ever Mexican citizens or not. Dumped across the border and separated from half her family, Estrella must figure out a way to survive and care for her mother and baby brother. How can she reunite with her father and grandparents and convince her country of birth that she deserves to return home? There are no easy answers in the first YA book to tackle this hidden history.”–Description

 

Drive Here and Devastate Me by Megan Falley (@megan_falley)

September 15

Tags: Poetry, queer, romance, women writers

Write Bloody Publishing, 100 pages

“Megan Falley’s much-anticipated fourth collection of poetry shocks you with its honesty: whether through exacting wit or lush lyrical imagery. It is clear that the author is madly in love, not only with her partner for whom she writes both idiosyncratic and sultry poems for, but in love with language, in love with queerness, in love with the therapeutic process of bankrupting the politics of shame. These poems tackle gun violence, toxic masculinity, LGBTQ* struggles, suicidality, and the oppression of women’s bodies, while maintaining a vivid wildness that the tongue aches to speak aloud.”–Description

 

Flocks by L. Nichols

September 15

Tags: Trans, #OwnVoices, memoir, graphic novels, religion

Secret Acres, 332 pages

“L. Nichols, a trans man, artist, engineer and father of two, was born in rural Louisiana, assigned female and raised by conservative Christians. Flocks is his memoir of that childhood, and of his family, friends and community, the flocks of Flocks, that shaped and re-shaped him. L.’s irresistibly charming drawings demonstrate what makes Flocks so special: L.’s boundless empathy.”–Description

 

Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary: Sit-ins, Civil Rights, and Black Women’s Student Activism by Robert Cohen

September 15

Tags: US history, Black women

University of Georgia Press, 312 pages

“This is a gem of a book! Organized around Howard Zinn’s fascinating diary of events during 1963, Robert Cohen’s account provides fresh information about how Zinn’s time at Spelman College (1956–63) converged with the contentious process of change in Atlanta, across the South, and on the Spelman campus. In recovering this formative chapter in Zinn’s biography, Cohen tells the story of a generation of black college women on the front lines of the freedom struggle.”–Patricia Sullivan author of Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement

 

The Bead Collector: A novel by Sefi Atta

September 17

Tags: Literary fiction, Nigeria, friendship, family, women writers

Interlink Pub Group, 376 pages

“The Bead Collector is centered around a dialogue between two women, but radiates out through family and society and the political realm in Nigeria to form a vast, rich dialogue, one, ultimately, between tradition and progress. Sefi Atta has crafted yet another stunning novel, a deeply compelling, illuminating story of personal and national identity in a time of great transition.”–Gayle Brandeis, author of The Book of Dead Birds

 

The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish by Katya Apekina (@katyaapekina)

September 18

Tags: Family, coming of age, women writers, debut

The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish begins with a reunion between two sisters and their estranged, artist father. An unlikely intimacy grows out of this unusual situation, and we’re shuttled into a strange, beautiful history of this complex, passionate family, a history which involves young love, the Civil Rights movement, and an enduring obsession. I was completely mesmerized by Katya Apekina’s thrilling, heartfelt debut. Funny, suspenseful, touching, and totally unexpected, I dare you not to love it as much as I did. Apekina has talent and heart to spare.”–Anton DiSclafani, National Bestselling author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

 

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh (@Sarah_Smarsh)

September 18

Tags: Class, women writers, rural, poverty

Scribner, 304 pages

“Candid and courageous … Smarsh’s raw and intimate narrative exposes a country of economic inequality that has ‘failed its children.'”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[A] powerful message of class bias … A potent social and economic message [is] embedded within an affecting memoir.”–Kirkus (starred review)

 

How to be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide by Crystal Marie Fleming (@alwaystheself)

September 18

Tags: Race, women writers, sociology

“Dr. Fleming offers a straight-no-chaser critique of our collective complicit ignorance regarding the state of race in the United States . . . . This book will leave you thinking, offended, and transformed.”–Nina Turner, former Ohio state senator

 

In Pieces by Sally Field (@sally_field)

September 18

Tags: Memoir, entertainment, women writers, family

Grand Central Publishing, 416 pages

“In this intimate, haunting literary memoir, an American icon tells her story for the first time, and in her own gorgeous words–about a challenging and lonely childhood, the craft that helped her find her voice, and a powerful emotional legacy that shaped her journey as a daughter and a mother.”–Description

I know she’s a white lady. But I adore her.

 

Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry (@imaniperry)

September 18

Tags: Queer, women writers, Black women, biography

Beacon Press, 256 pages

“I have always admired the brilliant Lorraine Hansberry. Now I treasure her even more. Imani Perry’s magnificently written and extremely well researched Looking for Lorraine reclaims for all of us the Lorraine Hansberry we should have had all along, the multifaceted genius for whom A Raisin in the Sun was just the tip of the iceberg. Though Hansberry’s life was brief, her powerful work remains vital and urgently necessary. One can say the same of this phenomenal book, which hopefully will lead more readers to both Hansberry’s published and unpublished works.”–Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I’m Dying

 

Someone Like Me: How One Undocumented Girl Fought for Her American Dream by Julissa Arce (@julissaarce)

September 18

Tags: Immigration, women writers, #OwnVoices, YA, memoir, Mexico, drugs

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 240 pages

“A remarkable true story from social justice advocate and national bestselling author Julissa Arce about her journey to belong in America while growing up undocumented in Texas… Julissa’s story provides a deep look into the little-understood world of a new generation of undocumented immigrants in the United States today–kids who live next door, sit next to you in class, or may even be one of your best friends.”–Description

 

These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore

September 18

Tags: US history, women writers

W. W. Norton & Company, 960 pages

“With this epic work of grand chronological sweep, brilliantly illuminating the idea of truth in the history of our republic, Lepore reaffirms her place as one of one of the truly great historians of our time.”–Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University

 

Washington Black: A novel by Esi Edugyan

September 18

Tags: Historical fiction, adventure, literary, women writers

Knopf, 352 pages

Read my review here!

“Washington Black is nothing short of a masterpiece. Esi Edugyan has a rare talent for turning over little known stones of history and giving her reader a new lens on the world, a new way of understanding subject matter we arrogantly think we know everything about. This book is an epic adventure and a heartfelt tale about love and morality and their many contradictions. I loved it.”–Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird

 

Forgotten Women: The Writers by Zing Tsjeng (@misszing)

September 20 (Kindle ed., hardcover coming in October)

Tags: Women writers, history

Cassell, 224 pages

“To say this series is ’empowering’ doesn’t do it justice. Buy a copy for your daughters, sisters, mums, aunts and nieces – just make sure you buy a copy for your sons, brothers, dads, uncles and nephews, too.”–Independent

 

 

Othered by Randi M Romo (@RomoTake2)

September 20

Tags: Queer, women writers, #OwnVoices, poetry

Sibling Rivalry Press, 96 pages

“There is no better landing place for our grief, our love, and our hopes for a better tomorrow than poems. They vibrate with an urgency that defies the dead and enlivens the future. But Othered is more than a collection of poetry; it is proof positive that becoming one’s true self is still the most revolutionary act that any human being can undertake. Randi M. Romo shows us how it’s done–with courage, great care, and community.” – James Lecesne, Co-Founder of the Trevor Project

 

Blindsided by Chelsea Catherine

September 21

Tags: Queer, literary fiction

Texas Review Press, 144 pages

Blindsided follows Eli as she leads Carla, a local real estate agent, through an election for Key West city mayor. At first, the campaign process appears easy. Despite their differences, the two women work well together. But as time progresses, they face countless obstacles: the Bubba system in the Keys, discrimination from both supporting and opposing forces, and their rapidly intensifying relationship. While Carla starts to doubt her decisions, Eli struggles to find her place in the Keys and in Carla’s budding campaign.”–Description

 

Trans Teen Survival Guide by Fox Fisher (@theFoxFisherand Owl Fisher (@UglaStefania)

September 21

Tags: Trans, queer, YA, #OwnVoices

Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 208 pages

“With a focus on self-care, expression and being proud of your unique identity, the guide is packed full of invaluable advice from people who understand the realities and complexities of growing up trans. Having been there, done that, Fox and Owl are able to honestly chart the course of life as a trans teen, from potentially life-saving advice on dealing with dysphoria or depression, to hilarious real-life awkward trans stories.”–Description

 

Off Limits by Vanessa North (@byVanessaNorth)

September 24

Tags: Lesbian, romance, women writers, #OwnVoices

Vanessa North, 207 pages

“By day, Natalie Marshall is the Thorns Ladies’ Social Club’s perfect concierge: resourceful, observant, immaculate. But she turns her phone off when the night concierge arrives, and then she’s Nat: the raunchy lead singer of Vertical Smile—notorious for lewd lyrics and sexually-charged performances.”–Description

 

American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures by America Ferrera (@AmericaFerrera)

September 25

Tags: Immigration, essays, women writers, #OwnVoices, Latinx

Gallery Books, 336 pages

“From award-winning actress and political activist America Ferrera comes a vibrant and varied collection of first person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures.”–Description

 

A Blade So Black by LL McKinney (@ElleOnWords)

September 25

Tags: Women writers, fantasy, urban, debut

Imprint, 384 pages

A Blade So Black delivers an irresistible urban fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland . . . but it’s not the Wonderland you remember. Debut author L.L. McKinney delivers an action-packed twist on an old classic, full of romance and otherworldly intrigue.”–Description

 

Can We All Be Feminists?: New Writing from Brit Bennett, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and 15 Others on Intersectionality, Identity, and the Way Forward for Feminism edited by June Eric-Udorie (@juneericudorie)

September 25

Tags: Feminism, queer, anthology

Penguin Books, 288 pages

“June Eric-Udorie is a powerhouse. . . . who has assembled a stellar lineup of writers, putting a bold challenge to the idea of a unified feminism.”–Book Riot, “New Feminist Books That Offer Us Ways Forward”

 

Lava Falls by Lucy Jane Bledsoe (@LucyBledsoe)

September 25

Tags: Lesbian, women writers, short stories

University of Wisconsin Press, 240 pages

“In these twelve remarkable stories, the reader journeys from the remotest inner reaches of Alaska to deceptively calm suburban neighborhoods to a research station at the bottom of the world. Yet Lucy Jane Bledsoe’s true territory is the wild, uncharted expanse of the heart. A wise and wonderful collection.”–Kirstin Valdez Quade, author of Night at the Fiesta
“From Antarctica to suburbia to the ancient past and a post-apocalyptic future, these tales of kick-ass women adventurers and survivor girls are big-hearted, breathtaking, and profound. Reading Lava Falls is like meeting an animal in the wild: I was rapt, unable to turn away, with no idea what would happen next.”–Micah Perks, author of What Becomes Us

 

Old Futures: Speculative Fiction and Queer Possibility by Alexis Lothian (@alothian)

September 25

Tags: Queer, speculative, history, literary criticism

NYU Press, 352 pages

Old Futures explores the social, political, and cultural forces feminists, queer people, and people of color invoke when they dream up alternative futures as a way to imagine transforming the present. Lothian shows how queer possibilities emerge when we practice the art of speculation: of imagining things otherwise than they are and creating stories from that impulse. Queer theory offers creative ways to think about time, breaking with straight and narrow paths toward the future laid out for the reproductive family, the law-abiding citizen, and the believer in markets. Yet so far it has rarely considered the possibility that, instead of a queer present reshaping the ways we relate to past and future, the futures imagined in the past can lead us to queer the present.”–Description

 

Open Earth by Sarah Mirk (@sarahmirk(Author) with Eva Cabrera (@evacabrera(Illustrator) and Claudia Aguirre (Illustrator)

September 25

Tags: Graphic novel, erotica, science fiction, women writers, romance

Limerence Press, 120 pages

“For comics fans who dream optimistically about the future, the diverse cast and sex-positive, cooperative storyline combine into a utopian vision.”–Publishers Weekly

“Humans may be living in space now, but our same old problems with love, sex, and communication are timeless. Full of family, friendship, and love, Cabrera, Aguirre, and Mirk’s vision of the post-apocalypse looks pretty damn appealing to me.”–Erika Moen

 

What titles are you excited about this month?

 

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15 Must-Reads for the Rest of Us – 2018 – Part II

15 Must-Reads for the Rest of Us – 2018 – Part II

Is it the middle of JULY already?? It’s hard to believe, but here we are.

I’ve read quite a bit this year, including 8 of 12 of the books on my Must-Reads for the Rest of Us Part I list. Well, the second half of the year is upon us and here is the Must Reads for the Rest of Us 2018, Part II!

On Part I, I stuck to fiction but on Part II, I had to make a few exceptions. There are some exciting new nonfiction titles coming out by the end of the year, to be sure.

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.

You’ll see some books left off of this list that you might think should be on it. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to or won’t read them, it just means that they are often written by white women and/or have gotten a lot of attention on other outlets and I wanted to focus on ones you may not have heard about yet by historically underrepresented populations. Think: Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver, Open Me by Lisa Locascio, The Third Hotel by Laura Van Den Berg, Transcription by Kate Atkinson, and others. One could include Michelle Obama’s memoir in this but I don’t care, I cannot wait to read it and so added it to this list!

Which of the following will you read?

 

Before She Sleeps by Bina Shah (@BinaShah)

August 7

Tags: Dystopian, women writers, Pakistan, Muslim women

Delphinium, 256 pages

“A haunting dystopian thriller…Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale won’t want to miss this one.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Check out Bina Shah’s website, https://thefeministani.com/, which is full of amazing writing on Pakistan, feminism, and more.

You can read my review here!

 

Assata Taught Me: State Violence, Mass Incarceration, and the Movement for Black Lives by Donna Murch

August 14

Tags: Black Lives Matter, Black women, women writers, feminism, politics, race, incarceration

Haymarket Books, 200 pages

“Black Panther and Cuban exile, Assata Shakur, has inspired multiple generations of radical protest, including our contemporary Black Lives Matter movement. Drawing its title from one of America’s foremost revolutionaries this collection of thought-provoking essays by award-winning Panther scholar Donna Murch explores how social protest is challenging our current system of state violence and mass incarceration.

Assata Taught Me offers a fresh and much-needed historical perspective on the fifty years since the founding of the Black Panther Party, in which the world’s largest police state has emerged.”–Description

 

Severance by Ling Ma

August 14

Tags: Humor, women writers, debut

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 304 pages

“A biting indictment of late-stage capitalism and a chilling vision of what comes after . . . [Ma] knows her craft, and it shows. [Her protagonist] is a wonderful mix of vulnerability, wry humor, and steely strength…. Ma also offers lovely meditations on memory and the immigrant experience. Smart, funny, humane, and superbly well-written.”–Kirkus, starred review

“Embracing the genre but somehow transcending it, Ma creates a truly engrossing and believable anti-utopian world. Ma’s extraordinary debut marks a notable creative jump by playing on the apocalyptic fears many people share today.”–Booklist, starred review

 

Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century by Barbara Ransby (@BarbaraRansby)

August 17

Tags: Women writers, nonfiction, Black women, Black Lives Matter, #OwnVoices

University of California Press, 240 pages

“I can imagine no more perfect example of the dedicated scholar/activist than Barbara Ransby. She now offers us an analysis of the Movement for Black Lives, and its historical continuities and ruptures, that reflects both her considerable skills as a historian and her rich experience as an activist. This book passionately urges us to adapt the radical and feminist versions of democracy that will move us forward.”–Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz

 

Unapologetic: A Black, Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers (@CharleneCac)

August 28

Tags: Queer, Black women, women writers, politics, race, #OwnVoices

Beacon Press, 184 pages

“Charlene Carruthers is a powerful organizer, radical thinker, paradigm-shifter, and one of the most influential political voices of her generation. Anyone seriously interested in the struggle for Black liberation in this country needs to listen carefully to what she has to say.”–Barbara Ransby, author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement and Making All Black Lives Matter

 

She Would Be King: A Novel by Wayétu Moore (@Wayetu)

September 11

Tags: Liberia, magical realism, women authors, historical fiction, debut

Graywolf, 312 pages

“In this vibrant story of the African diaspora, Moore, a talented storyteller and a daring writer, illuminates with radiant and exacting prose the tumultuous roots of a country inextricably bound to the United States. She Would Be King is a novel of profound depth set against a vast canvas and a transcendent debut from a major new author.”–Description

 

She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak by Azeenarh Mohammed (@xeenarh), Chitra Nagarajan (@chitranagarajan), and Rafeeat Aliyu (@rafeeeeta)

September 12

Tags: Queer, Nigeria, Black women, women authors, trans, #OwnVoices

Cassava Republic Press, 340 pages

“This stirring and intimate collection brings together 25 captivating narratives to paint a vivid portrait of what it means to be a queer Nigerian woman. Covering an array of experiences – the joy and excitement of first love, the agony of lost love and betrayal, the sometimes-fraught relationship between sexuality and spirituality, addiction and suicide, childhood games and laughter – She Called Me Woman sheds light on how Nigerian queer women, despite their differences, attempt to build a life together in a climate of fear.”–Description

 

Washington Black: A novel by Esi Edugyan

September 18

Tags: Historical fiction, adventure, literary, women writers

Knopf, 352 pages

“Washington Black is nothing short of a masterpiece. Esi Edugyan has a rare talent for turning over little known stones of history and giving her reader a new lens on the world, a new way of understanding subject matter we arrogantly think we know everything about. This book is an epic adventure and a heartfelt tale about love and morality and their many contradictions. I loved it.”–Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird

Read my review here!

 

A Rebel in Gaza: Behind the Lines of the Arab Spring, One Woman’s Story by Asmaa al-Ghoul and Selim Nassib with Mike Mitchell (Translator)

October 16

Tags: Palestine, Gaza, memoir, biography, #OwnVoices

DoppelHouse Press, 224 pages

“Asmaa al-Ghoul is a Palestinian journalist who grew up in the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza. Her book offers a rare view of a young woman coming into her own political and secular beliefs amidst the region’s relentless violence and under Israeli occupation…A Rebel in Gaza is Asmaa’s story as told to Franco-Lebanese writer Selim Nassib over the course of the “Arab Spring” through meetings, phone calls, Skype, and even texts during the siege of Gaza in 2014…”

Ghoul was given the prestigious Courage in Journalism Award by the International Women’s Media Foundation and is described by The New York Times as a woman ‘known for her defiant stance against the violations of civil rights in Gaza.'”–Description

My review of this title is forthcoming!

 

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves by Glory Edim (ed.) (@guidetoglo)

October 30

Tags: Literary, essays, Black women, women writers, #OwnVoices

Ballantine Books, 224 pages

“An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature. Contributors include Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and Barbara Smith (Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology).”–Description

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama)

November 13

Tags: Women writers, Black women, memoir, #OwnVoices

Crown, 400 pages

“In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.”–Description

 

All the Lives We Never Lived: A Novel by Anuradha Roy

November 20

Tags: India, women writers, family, literary, #OwnVoices

Atria, 288 pages

“[Roy] is a writer of great subtlety and intelligence, who understands that emotional power comes from the steady accretion of detail….[All the Lives We Never Lived] does not directly refer to #MeToo or the macho hyper-nationalism of today’s India. But in its portrayal of power structures, it is part of those very contemporary political conversations. It is also a beautifully written and compelling story of how families fall apart and of what remains in the aftermath.”–Kamila Shamsie, The Guardian

 

The Houseguest: And Other Stories by Amparo Dávila with Matthew Gleeson (Translator) and Audrey Harris (Translator)

November 20

Tags: Women writers, short stories, Mexico, literary, translation, #OwnVoices

New Directions, 144 pages

“Filled with nightmarish imagery (“Sometimes I saw hundreds of small eyes fastened to the dripping windowpanes”) and creeping dread, Dávila’s stories plunge into the nature of fear, proving its force no matter if its origin is physical or psychological, real or imagined.”–Publishers Weekly

“The work of Amparo Dávila is unique in Mexican literature. There is no one like her, no one with that introspection and complexity.”–Elena Poniatowska

 

My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite

November 20

Tags: Nigeria, Black women, women writers, debut, humor, #OwnVoices

Doubleday, 240 pages

“Who is more dangerous? A femme fatale murderess or the quiet, plain woman who cleans up her messes? In My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite answers that question with an original and compelling debut. I never knew what was going to happen, but found myself pulling for both sisters, as I relished the creepiness and humor of this modern noir.”–Helen Ellis, New York Times bestselling author of American Housewife

Read my review here!

 

Revolution Sunday by Wendy Guerra with Achy Obejas (Translator)

December 4

Tags: Cuba, women writers, thriller, Latinx

Melville House, 208 pages

“A novel about glamour, surveillance, and corruption in contemporary Cuba, from an internationally bestselling author–who has never before been translated into English.”–Description

My review of this title is forthcoming!

 

What is on your reading list for the rest of the year? Which books are you most excited about?

 

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New Books By Women May

New Books by WOC, QTBIPOC, GNC, and more – May 2018 Releases

Need a new book for May?
Here’s a roundup of the new books being released in May that I am most excited about, by and/or about women of color, LBTQ+ women, women with disabilities, gender non-conforming people, feminists, and womxn from other historically underrepresented and underserved communities.
If you are curious 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’ll probably add to this list as I learn of others; if you have a suggestion, please place it in the comments below!

 

Awus Story by Justine MintsaAwu’s Story by Justine Mintsa and Cheryl Toman (Translator)

May 1

“At the dawn of the twenty-first century, villages in the Fang region of northern Gabon must grapple with the clash of tradition and the evolution of customs throughout modern Africa. With this tension in the background, the passionate, deft, and creative seamstress Awu marries Obame, after he and his beloved wife, Bella, have been unable to conceive. Because all three are reluctant participants in this arrangement, theirs is an emotionally fraught existence. Through heartbreaking and disastrous events, Awu grapples with long-standing Fang customs that counter her desire to take full control of her life and home.

Supplemented with a foreword and critical introduction highlighting Justine Mintsa’s importance in African literature, Awu’s Story is an essential work of African women’s writing and the only published work to meditate this deeply on some of the Fang’s most cherished legends and oral history.”–Amazon

 

Gaming Masculinity by Megan CondisGaming Masculinity: Trolls, Fake Geeks, and the Gendered Battle for Online Culture by Megan Condis

May 1

“Megan Condis addresses the most important and contentious controversies in gaming culture at present. Her writing argues strongly against the groups who have tried to undermine the diversity arising in games and provides a passionate insight into these events, linking them with wider cultural shifts in Western society.”–Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Staffordshire University
“Fierce, fun, and fascinating. Condis writes with a journalist’s ear and an academic’s eye, getting to the core of what drives men’s behavior online, in games, and throughout digital culture.” –Derek A. Burrill, author, Die Tryin’: Videogames, Masculinity, Culture

 

 

ISAN by Mary TingISAN: International Sensory Assassin Network by Mary Ting (@MaryTing)

May 1

“The world has changed. Scientists warned it would happen.

Meteors devastated the Earth. World Governments developed plans to help surviving citizens. The United States disbanded and salvageable land was divided into four quadrants—North, South, East, and West—governed by The Remnant Council.

Struggling to survive, seventeen-year-old Ava ends up in juvenile detention, until she is selected for a new life—with a catch. She must be injected with an experimental serum. The results will be life changing. The serum will make her better. To receive the serum Ava agrees to join a program controlled by ISAN, the International Sensory Assassin Network.”–description

 

Life After Darkness by Michelle KnightLife After Darkness: Finding Healing and Happiness After the Cleveland Kidnappings by Michelle Knight (@LilyRoseLee1)

May 1

“From Michelle Knight-Cleveland kidnapping survivor and #1 NYT bestselling author of Finding Me-comes an inspirational book about healing and resilience, on the five-year anniversary of her escape.”–Amazon

“The story of an incredibly brave and resilient young woman and of a spirit that refused to be crushed, even through the worst time.”–The Daily Mail

 

 

Little Fish by Casey PlettLittle Fish by Casey Plett (@caseyplett)

May 1

“I have never felt as seen, understood, or spoken to as I did when I read Little Fish. Never before in my life. Casey remains one of THE authors to read if you want to understand the interior lives of trans women in this century.”–Meredith Russo, author of If I Was Your Girl

“There is a dark place most novels don’t touch. If you’ve ever been there, maybe you know how exhilarating it can be to read a book like this, a book that captures the darkness so honestly, so accurately, that you can finally begin to let it go. Fearless and messy and oozing with love, Little Fish is a devastating book that I don’t ever want to be without.”–Zoey Leigh Peterson, author of Next Year, For Sure

 

Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab JoukhadarThe Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar (@JenniferZeynab)

May 1

“Nour’s family constantly endures hardship. . . but her young, honest voice adds a softer, coming-of-age perspective to this story of loss, hope, and survival. . . This imaginative yet very real look into war-torn Syria is a must.”–Booklist, starred review

“Debut novelist Joukhadar gracefully balances the gritty, often horrific truth of the refugee’s plight with the lyrical near-fairy tale she has created….A wise, vibrantly told story for a wide range of readers, particularly relevant now.”–Library Journal

 

 

Mars Room by Rachel KushnerThe Mars Room: A Novel by Rachel Kushner

May 1

“In smart, determined, and vigilant Romy, Kushner, an acclaimed writer of exhilarating skills, has created a seductive narrator of tigerish intensity… This is a gorgeously eviscerating novel of incarceration writ large…Rooted in deeply inquisitive thinking and executed with artistry and edgy wit, Kushner’s dramatic and disquieting novel investigates with verve and compassion societal strictures and how very difficult it is to understand each other and to be truly free.”–Booklist, Starred Review

“A searing look at life on the margins…This is, fundamentally, a novel about poverty and how our structures of power do not work for the poor, and Kushner does not flinch…gripping.”–Kirkus Reviews

 

Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle BarnesMonsoon Mansion: A Memoir by Cinelle Barnes

May 1

“In this incandescent debut memoir, Cinelle Barnes forges memories of her family’s downfall with tumultuous Filipino history. Like the storm in its title, Monsoon Mansion immerses us in the darkest waters of memory, stirring up unbearably brutal childhood events with lyrical prose and searing imagery, forming a woven tale that is both delicate and electric. This book assures us that even when we lose those things that give shape to our humanity—our roots, culture, and family—we can go on to devise a new way of being.”–Susan Tekulve, author of In the Garden of Stone

I just finished this book and if you like creative non-fiction and memoirs, you would enjoy this one. More complete review coming soon!

 

Motherhood by Sheila HetiMotherhood by Sheila Heti (@sheilaheti)

May 1

“This inquiry into the modern woman’s moral, social and psychological relationship to procreation is an illumination, a provocation, and a response―finally―to the new norms of femininity, formulated from the deepest reaches of female intellectual authority. It is unlike anything else I’ve read. Sheila Heti has broken new ground, both in her maturity as an artist and in the possibilities of the female discourse itself.”–Rachel Cusk, author of Outline and Transit

 

 

 

Not That Bad by Roxane GayNot That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture by Roxane Gay (ed.) (@rgay)

May 1

Edited and with an introduction by Roxane Gay, the New York Times bestselling and deeply beloved author of Bad Feminist and Hunger, this anthology of first-person essays tackles rape, assault, and harassment head-on.–Amazon

Vogue, “10 of the Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2018” * Harper’s Bazaar, “10 New Books to Add to Your Reading List in 2018” * Elle, “21 Books We’re Most Excited to Read in 2018” * Boston Globe, “25 books we can’t wait to read in 2018” * Huffington Post, “60 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018” * Hello Giggles, “19 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018” * Buzzfeed, “33 Most Exciting New Books of 2018”

 

 

Political Risk by Condoleezza RicePolitical Risk: How Businesses and Organizations Can Anticipate Global Insecurity by Condoleezza Rice (@CondoleezzaRiceand Amy B. Zegart

May 1

“From New York Times bestselling author and former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Stanford University professor Amy B. Zegart comes an examination of the rapidly evolving state of political risk, and how to navigate it.”–Amazon

“Clearly written and timely, this book will interest not only current and future business executives but also would-be-whistle-blowers and corporate watchdogs.”–Publishers Weekly

 

 

Poppy War by RF KuangThe Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (@kuangrf)

May 1

“Debut novelist Kuang creates an ambitious fantasy reimagining of Asian history populated by martial artists, philosopher-generals, and gods […] This is a strong and dramatic launch to Kuang’s career.”–Publishers Weekly

“I have no doubt this will end up being the best fantasy debut of the year […] I have absolutely no doubt that [Kuang’s] name will be up there with the likes of Robin Hobb and N.K. Jemisin.” — Booknest

 

 

 

Seasons of My Mother by Marcia Gay HardenThe Seasons of My Mother: A Memoir of Love, Family, and Flowers by Marcia Gay Harden (@MGH_8)

May 1

“A fiercely loving and tender tribute to Marcia Gay Harden’s mother, remembering for her and for us what Alzheimer’s has stolen, filling those darkened holes with compassion, acceptance, beauty, and love. I savored every page and didn’t want it to end.–Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Every Note Played

“Poignant, beautiful . . . . Replete with emotionally resonant scenes, humor, and tales of Harden’s own journey as an actor, The Seasons of My Mother is both inspirational and devastating, a touching tribute to a remarkable woman.”–Booklist

 

 

Song of Blood and Stone by L PenelopeSong of Blood & Stone: Earthsinger Chronicles, Book One by L. Penelope (@leslyepenelope)

May 1

“L. Penelope’s page-turning apocalyptic epic Song of Blood & Stone does what fantasy does best: provide epic plots, epic world-building and epic myth. A rewarding, carefully crafted read.”–The Root

“Penelope delivers an engrossing story with delightful characters in this fantastic opening to a promising series.”–Publishers Weekly starred review

 

 

 

Strut by Mariahadessa Ekere TallieStrut by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie (@SageEkere)

May 1

Book description: Strut, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie’s second book of poetry (her first was Karma’s Footsteps), emerges from an intense engagement with contemporary issues of crucial importance in our historical moment—ranging from global warming, genocide, capitalism, and racism to sexism, slut-shaming, slavery, and mental illness—in creative ways that facilitate dialogue.This is a work about struggle, survival, injustice, transcendence, and love. Strut explores themes of ancestry, survival, sensuality, and acceptance of self. This book celebrates the gorgeousness of life even as it bears witness to the ugliness that accompanies, and often seems to permeate, the human experience.

 

 

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L DavisTiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis (@DanaLDavis)

May 1

“Debut author Davis takes an unflinching approach to racism, religion, emotional abuse, and mental illness. Tiffany’s circumstances are nightmarish, but the narrative isn’t weighed down, in large part because of her integrity, passion, and refusal to be self-pitying.”–Publishers Weekly

“Davis’ debut novel is an honest, funny, and captivating examination of race, socio-economics, mental health, and family…A dynamic and honest coming-of-age novel with universal appeal that will especially speak to black girls questioning their place in the world.”–Kirkus Reviews

 

 

Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu OnuzoWelcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo (@ChibunduOnuzo)

May 1

Welcome to Lagos doesn’t just give us a glimpse of Nigeria, it transports us there. Onuzo’s storytelling is masterful, her characters are irresistible, and her voice is astounding in its subtle power. Onuzo stands on the shoulders of Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and from her perch offers her own fresh, but assured, view.” –Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, author of A Kind of Freedom

 

 

 

Self-Ish by Chloe SchwenkeSelf-Ish: A Transgender Awakening by Chloe Schwenke (@chloemaryland)

May 4

“Chloe Schwenke’s Self-ish offers an intelligent, thoughtful look at the complex journey that is gender transition, illuminating aspects of gender transition―such as the difficulties of job hunting, the process of forming and renegotiating friendships, and the intersection of trans identity and Quaker religious practice―that haven’t received much attention in memoirs or the media.”–Joy Ladin, author of Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders

 

 

 

Against Memoir by Michelle TeaAgainst Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms  by Michelle Tea (@TeaMichelle)

May 8

“The essays in Against Memoir remind us how pleasure, pain, wisdom, and delight come from the ground up, by and through the body, and in this case, a body unapologetically firing all her desires, pleasures, fears, and dreams like lightning. A hardcore delight, a queer blood song picking the scab off the skin of culture.”–Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan

“An entrancing collection of irreverent and flamboyant essays.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

 

 

Amal Unbound by Aisha SaeedAmal Unbound by Aisha Saeed (@aishacs)

May 8

“Saeed’s timely and stirring middle-grade debut is a celebration of resistance and justice.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“The compelling story of a girl’s fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude.”–IndieBound

 

 

 

Barracoon by Zora Neale HurstonBarracoon by Zora Neale Hurston (Debra G. Plant, ed.)

May 8

A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade–abducted from Africa on the last “Black Cargo” ship to arrive in the United States.

 

 

 

Lighting the Fires of Freedom by Janet Dewart BellLighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement bJanet Dewart Bell (@JanetDewartBell)

May 8

“A primer and an inspiration for anyone looking to make their mark during these times of change and uncertainty.”–Juhu Thukral, human rights lawyer and inaugural speaker, Anita Hill Lecture Series

“A must-read for anyone interested in race, gender, class, American political development, the Civil Rights Movement, and the power of social change.”–Christina M. Greer, PhD, associate professor of political science at Fordham University

 

 

Puddin by Julie MurphyPuddin’ by Julie Murphy (@andimJULIE)

May 8

“Murphy’s plot brims with unlikely friendships, irresistible romance, fabulous fat acceptance, and a kick-ass ending. Buoying.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Murphy’s energetic writing style makes for compulsive readability.”–Booklist

“Julie Murphy has created the platonic love story of a lifetime. I am wildly in love with Puddin’.”–Becky Albertalli, award-winning author of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

 

 

Shadow Child by Rahna Reiko RizzutoShadow Child by Rahna R. Rizzuto (@r3reiko)

May 8

“A beautifully woven historical saga wrapped in a page-turning mystery, Shadow Child explores time, memory and identity,shedding new light on the lives of Japanese-Americans, and how trauma can be its own kind of inheritance. Not since Housekeeping has there been a pair of sisters so intricately linked as Hana and Kei, or settings that imprint so firmly on the mind, from the internment camps of WWII to the hidden caves and tropical waters of Hawaii. This is a stunning story of sisterhood and survival, of healing and forgiveness, and how we find our true selves in each other.”–Hannah Tinti, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Thief and The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

“National Book Critics Circle finalist Rizzuto blends historical fiction and mystery into a haunting examination of identity and family in this perfect book club choice.”–Library Journal (starred review)

 

Undead Girl Gang by Lily AndersonUndead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson (@ms_lilyanderson)

May 8

“A compelling mystery, a grimly funny fantasy, and a genuinely touching story of friendship.”–Booklist

Undead Girl Gang is a YA mash up of ‘The Craft’ and ‘Veronica Mars’ with a Latina protagonist…the best mix of ’90s girl power culture, compelling magic and creepy circumstances—all rolled together for the best kind of murder mystery.”–Bustle.com

 

 

 

Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene GooThe Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo (@maurenegoo ‏)

May 8

A Junior Library Guild selection

“With massive amounts of humor, heart, and soul, this love letter to L.A. and its diversity is a celebration of friends, family, and food trucks.”–Booklist, starred review

“Sweet, sexy, hilarious, and featuring a spectacular father-daughter relationship, this book will fly off the shelves.”–School Library Journal, starred review

 

 

My Soul Looks Back by Jessica B HarrisMy Soul Looks Back: A Memoir by Jessica B. Harris 

May 9 (hardcover), May 15 (paperback), Kindle out now

“Come for the insight into the circle of friends that first resolved around James Baldwin, then shifted orbit to revolve around Maya Angelou. Stay because you’re enraptured by the candid, passionate woman narrating from the periphery. This is an intimate look at an inner circle of Black writers, scholars, and glamazons moving through the middle of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, told with bold tenderness by a woman who grew up in their company, under their gaze.”–Alice Randall, author of Ada’s Rules and The Wind Done Gone

 

 

 

It's Only Blood by Anna DahlqvistIt’s Only Blood: Shattering the Taboo of Menstruation by Anna Dahlqvist (@AnnaDahlqvist1)

May 15 (Kindle)

“A necessary contribution to the conversation on gender liberation. Dahlqvist masterfully moves between storytelling and frameworking how stigma holds menstruators back globally, while offering tangible solutions to many of these problems. A must read.”–Kiran Gandhi, musician, activist, and free-bleeding runner at the 2015 London Marathon
“Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand and take action against the global consequences of menstrual shame, stigma, and taboo. An insightful and inspiring read that will challenge you to think and behave differently.”–Mandu Reid, founder of The Cup Effect

 

My So Called Bollywood Life by Nisha SharmaMy So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma (@Nishawrites)

May 15

“Full of heart, culture and laughter! This sparkling story left me smiling for days.”–Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

“I could not put this book down until the very last page!”–Ellen Oh, author of The Prophecy series

“Fresh, feisty, and fun!”–Tanuja Desai Hidier, author of the critically acclaimed Born Confused and sequel Bombay Blues

 

 

The Ensemble by Aja GabelThe Ensemble by Aja Gabel (@AjaMaybe)

May 15

“Aja Gabel’s powerful debut offers a sensitive portrait of four young musicians forging their paths through life: sometimes at odds with each other, sometimes in harmony, but always inextricably linked by their shared pasts.”–Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere

“Gabel explores friendship and art with great warmth, humanity, and wisdom.”–Library Journal (starred review)

“Wonderful…. The four characters are individually memorable, but as a quartet they’re unforgettable.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

 

Friendship As Social Justice ActivismFriendship as Social Justice Activism: Critical Solidarities in a Global Perspective by Niharika Banerjea, Debanuj Dasgupta, Rohit K. Dasgupta (eds.)

May 15

“Friendship as Social Justice Activism brings together academics and activists to have essential conversations about friendship, love, and desire as kinetics for social justice movements. The contributors featured here come from across the globe and are all involved in diverse movements, including LGBTQ rights, intimate-partner violence, addiction recovery, housing, migrant, labor, and environmental activism.”–IndieBound

 

 

 

Blame it on Bianca del Rio by Bianca del RioBlame It On Bianca del Rio: The Expert on Nothing with an Opinion on Everything by Bianca del Rio (@TheBiancaDelRio)

May 22

“Uproarious advice and never-before-seen color photos from drag queen extraordinaire Bianca Del Rio.

A collection of biting advice filled with vibrant photos from Bianca’s twisted universe, Blame It On Bianca Del Rio will shock you and keep you laughing. But be warned: it is not for the faint of heart!”–Amazon

 

 

MEM by BC MorrowMEM by Bethany C. Morrow (@BCMorrow)

May 22

Buzzfeed’s #1 Book to Read this Spring
A Best Book of the Month at The Washington Post, Bustle, and Chicago Review of Books

“Morrow’s debut is ambitious and insightful, raising questions about memory, trauma, and humanity. The novel is at its best when it presents Elsie at her most human, forcing the real ones around her to reckon with what her personhood means for theirs.”–Publishers Weekly

“In the world of Bethany C. Morrow’s imaginative and gloriously written first novel, MEM, a memory might have a life of her own. This novel imagines an alternate past where memories can be extracted and turned to flesh, a premise that unfolds with intrigue and wisdom from this writer’s fertile imagination. Don’t miss this exciting debut that will change the way you think about memories.”–Tananarive Due, American Book Award and British Fantasy Award winner

 

Mondays Not Coming by Tiffany D JacksonMonday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson (@WriteinBK)

May 22

“This thought-provoking thriller examines issues such as abuse, gentrification, and the marginalization of people of color with nuance and sensitivity. The narrative deftly moves back and forth between past and present, building to a devastating conclusion. A spellbinding, profoundly moving choice for YA collections.”–School Library Journal (starred review)

“Jackson doesn’t hold anything back when it comes to the pain of abuse and the ramifications of turning a blind eye. It’s a frank, devastating read filled with real and flawed characters, and it’s a story that needs to be read.”–Booklist

 

 

Well That Escalated Quickly by Franchesca RamseyWell, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh)

May 22

“In this sharp, funny, and timely collection of personal essays, veteran video blogger and star of MTV’s Decoded Franchesca Ramsey explores race, identity, online activism, and the downfall of real communication in the age of social media rants, trolls, and call-out wars.”–Amazon

 

 

 

 

Heroine of the Harlem RenaissanceHeroine of the Harlem Renaissance and Beyond: Gwendolyn Bennett’s Selected Writings by Belinda Wheeler (@BWheeler_PhDand Louis J. Parascandola (eds.)

May 29

“This superbly edited collection will introduce many readers to a more versatile and accomplished Gwendolyn Bennett than they have known before. It includes the unpublished political poetry that extends her range and impact, making her a key figure of the 1930s.”–Cary Nelson, author of Repression and Recovery: Modern American Poetry and the Politics of Cultural Memory, 1910-1945

 

 

 

Like a Mother by Angela GarbesLike a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes (@agarbes

May 29

“Angela Garbes maps the strange void at the heart of American parenting-the ways we simultaneously deify, infantilize, and erase mothers-and then pours herself into that void with indefatigable curiosity and resounding compassion. Like a Mother is a deeply-researched history of human reproduction; it is a jewel-bright memoir; it is hard science beautifully translated; it is funny; it is intersectional; it will crack you open and fill you with awe. Required reading for mothers, and double-required for everyone else.”–Lindy West, author of New York Times bestseller Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman

 

 

So Close to Being the Shit by RettaSo Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’All Don’t Even Know by Retta (@unfoRETTAble)

May 29

“Reading this book is like having the best coffee date with the life-long friend I wish I had. Retta makes me laugh and feel so hard.”–America Ferrera

“This memoir is fantastic. It’s funny, it’s heartfelt, it’s insightful, and it’s charming. I liked Retta before; now I’m her biggest fan.”–Bookriot

Retta’s unique voice and refreshing honesty will make you laugh, cry, and laugh so hard you cry.”–Bustle

 

 

Wind in My Hair by Masih AlinejadThe Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran by Masih Alinejad (@AlinejadMasih)

May 29

“Women all over Iran risked imprisonment and even their lives and safety to post pictures. Alinejad’s stories of her illustrious career as a groundbreaking journalist challenging the Islamic Republic make for a fascinating narrative.”–Publisher’s Weekly

“[Masih’s] descriptions of life as a journalist and activist will captivate readers interested in Iran, international affairs, gender equality, and human rights.”–Booklist

 

As You Like It, Volume II of the Gerald Kraak Anthology: African Perspectives on Gender, Social Justice and Sexuality
May
Tags: Africa, LGBTQ, queer, anthology, fiction, nonfiction
Jacana Media, 172 pages
“These stories take up space; they are big and heavy and weighty and solid. These stories make no apologies. The sentences you will find on these pages are not afraid. They move from the brutal and the bloody to the melodic and the lyrical. They are crisp and controlled then suddenly they melt; sweetly, seductively.”–Sisonke Msimang

 

 

 

May
Tags: Biography, South Africa, women writers, #OwnVoices, Black women
Jacana Media, 230 pages
“This book reminds us that before 1990 conditions on the ground meant that a determined union supporter such as Ndlovu could pay with her life for being a militant organiser. The new South Africa was not won cheaply.”–William Freund, Professor Emeritus of Economic History, University of KwaZulu-Natal

 

 

 
An Image in a Mirror by Ijangolet Ogwang (@IjangoletO)

May
Tags: Women writers, Africa, South Africa, debut, Black women, #OwnVoices
Jacana Media, 200 pages
An Image in a Mirror is a richly told and deeply intimate African story about the becoming of two young women, who are, the same as much as they are different. When the sisters, at the age of twenty-two, finally cross their respective worlds to meet, how mirrored will each feel about the other?”–Description

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Drink It In: A Review of Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Drink It In: A Review of FRESHWATER by Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater is captivating, dynamic, and wise. At once, Akwaeke Emezi is able to frighten and confound their reader with a writing style that is intense and poetic. The raw honesty with which Emezi frames their debut book grabbed me by the throat and compelled me to continue reading, catching my breath as I turned each page.

Freshwater is the semi-autobiographical story of Ada, a Nigerian girl who was always a bit different from other children. She was a challenging child for her parents, who worried about her precocious and fractured existence. Throughout her life and the book, Ada speaks through her various selves, which Emezi frames within the Igbo (Nigeria) tradition of ogbanje. According to Sunday T.C. Ilechukwu, ogbanje is:

…a term commonly used to describe a child or adolescent that is said to repeatedly die and be repeatedly born by the same mother. The child is said to die before the next one is born in serial sequence. Ogbanje may also be used to refer to a living child, adolescent, or adult who was preceded in birth order by a child or children that died early in life and is thought to have this potential to ‘‘come and go’’. This is a malignant form of reincarnation. The Igbo believe that an ogbanje has ties with deities or agents of deities who are said to guard the interface between birth and a postulated pre-birth state and who are believed to mediate life processes.  

While I don’t recall Emezi referring to any babies or children dying before Ada was born, Emezi’s focus on rebirth in the book aligns with traditional notions of ogbanje. There are also traumatic events that occur to Ada and her siblings that are designed by her embodying entities to break them. The strength of Ada and her siblings as well as Ada’s ties to certain deities are imperative to get them through these trials.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Some reviewers of Freshwater have referred to ogbanje as demons or evil spirits that possess Ada and cause her to have a mental breakdown but I don’t agree with this. I see Ada herself as an ogbanje and Emezi as exploring their own identities through this character. Emezi has dealt with gender dysphoria their whole life, to the point where they wondered if they weren’t an ogbanje. They have had to examine their identities and determine how to navigate a world in which these identities may be judged as deviant or sinful. As Emezi made decisions about their physical body, they faced Nigerian (and, I’m guessing, Western) criticisms of what is sometimes seen as the mutilation of their body while in reality, it was what Emezi needed to do to authentically align their inner and outer selves.

Emezi is masterfully able to evoke the dark emotions and confusion Ada experiences and bring to light her complicated codependence upon her various selves or ogbanje. At times, Emezi conjured feelings of sympathy and understanding in me for them. By the time Ada gets to the US to attend college, a being called Asụghara is the most prevalent of Ada’s selves and is the most reckless and fearless of them all. Asụghara is content to live out their sexual compulsions through Ada’s body. As she grows, Ada surrenders to her various identities but it’s important to remember that surrender is not always weakness or loss. I believe Ada is finally able to make peace with her multiple selves and work with them in order to live a balanced and authentic life. Perhaps pathological in Western views, the truth is that most of us could point to multiple identities through which we scroll and choose the one which will serve us best at different times in our lives. Some of us though, like Ada/Emezi, may be more misunderstood and challenged than others to the point where it feels as though the dark side possesses a power over us that will not let go.

At times disquieting to read, Freshwater takes on challenging topics such as identity, mental illness, self-harm, sexual assault, suicide, and more. Emezi has a style of writing that is deliberate and exacting; I felt as though each word was painstakingly chosen so as to illustrate Ada’s splintered and exigent existence.

At times the book reminded me of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Toni Morrison’s brilliant Beloved in its fearful reverence of ancestral relationships, tradition, and spirituality. Emezi uses the Igbo tradition of ogbanje as a framework for a cogent exploration into identity formation and evolution, and for how we wear masks throughout life to deal with and make sense of pain and for how we exhibit bravery in the face of fear.  

In the end, I found Freshwater to be bold, challenging, and unique. It touched places of fear and pain within me but it also made me recall delicious moments of audacity and triumph. I gagged on the sticky, jagged chunks of this book and I long to read it again and swallow it whole because I know there is so much more there to be digested.

I can’t wait to devour more of what Akwake Emezi is serving up.

Find Akwaeke Emezi online at https://www.akwaeke.com/ and on Twitter @azemezi

For further reading:

Summary:

 
Title: Freshwater
Author: Akwaeke Emezi
Publisher: Grove PRess
Pages: 240
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
My Rating: Essential
Freshwater


Disclosures:
I received this ebook from NetGalley; thanks, NetGalley! This review is honest and my own.
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How We Get Free by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

What I’m Reading – 29 Jan 2018

Unlike many of you, I did not watch the Grammys. I love music but haven’t watched music award shows in years. Instead the gf and I finished binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 8… I know, I am behind, but trying to catch up. In the meantime, I am recording the latest season of Ru’s all-stars. Also, I am finishing up my review of Red Clocks by Leni Zumas and have begun reading Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi.

I’m also reading:

Besides RuPaul, I’m watching Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor discuss “What We Can Learn from the Black Feminists of the Combahee River Collective” on Democracy Now.  If you haven’t read Taylor’s latest book, How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, you are missing out. Go get it right now!

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