I feel as bibliophiles, we are touched by books, especially those handful of favorites. Our understanding of them, ourselves, and others evolves each time we read them – and we read them many, many times over.
I think I had my first romance of this type with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I mean, I had many favorite childhood books such as A Wrinkle in Time, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and (like every other young, eager-to-be-grown-up white girl?) all the Judy Blume books, but this one was different. Perhaps it was because it was the first time I really understood Shakespeare. Or maybe it was spritish Puck. I don’t know but for some reason, I just loved it.
But my longest and most in-depth book relationship is probably with On the Road. There is something about the way Jack Kerouac turned a phrase that perfectly captures my own desire for freedom and getting lost and finding my own way in the midst of an anxious and overactive mind. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve read it and will read it again.
I’ve never met another person whose heart melts for The Grapes of Wrath as mine does. Damn, I love those Joads. Jane Eyre and The Color Purple and The Awakening and Native Son…I have ongoing relationships with these stories and each time I revisit them, I pick up something new. I see a glimmer of some layer that I had previously missed. Perhaps it’s some small detail or the way a previously ordinary passage stands out to me when I read it again years later.
But books certainly don’t have to be canonical “classics” to steal your heart. And just because one pulls at my heartstrings doesn’t mean it automatically will for you. In my adulthood, I sat down with Life is So Good by George Dawson and fell head over heels. I am full of gratitude every time I read it.
This is what I love about reading. I can get lost in almost any book with a rise and fall, a couple of complicated characters, and a setting I can envision. Simple, right?
But with really good books, I mean books that I really fall in love with, I don’t only want an escape. I want it to have meaning in my real life. I want to be there with it, with all it offers. I will stick with it through good and bad. I will visit and revisit it. I will read specific passages over and over and ruminate on them from different perspectives. I keep it for years…on my writing table for inspiration, next to the bed to annotate the margins when the feeling strikes, or even on the highest shelf of my wall of books because I know I will never part with it.
That’s the power of a really great fucking book. It endures. I give and it gives back. Over and over again.
Simply put: I adore this book. It is a slim, adorable volume of only 142 pages which includes a kick-ass bibliography but by goddess, it packs a punch. It has all the facets I look for in a lasting book relationship and then some; I’ve already read it three times. And yes, it keeps on giving.
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 Bechdel. How Hudson included such variety in this one little book is a testament to her writing skills and is just, well, interesting as hell. Her examination of Bechdel and Fun Home is imbued with a curiosity and understanding that is enlightening and refreshing. While I have read Fun Home and really enjoyed it, it’s been a little while and sometime I’d like to read it again and then re-read A Little in Love with Everyone ; just to see Fun Home through Hudson’s eyes.
As a memoirist, Bechdel’s job is to tell the truth about herself, and her father’s suicide and sexuality are intrinsically bound up in her own story. To read Fun Home is to see Bechdel wrestle with the question of truth – how well her father hid his, and what it means for her to tell her own (pp. 17-18).
As I mentioned above, Hudson is just a good writer. Her instincts are magical. She gives you glimpses into her life growing up questioning and exploring her sexuality and then eventually, her coming out as a lesbian. While using Fun Home and Bechdel’s life as a backdrop, Hudson examines not only her own life experiences but also topics such as embodiment, gender, truth, visibility, self-acceptance, and more. Her vulnerability spoke to me and I appreciated her risk-taking throughout the book.
I wanted to make out with S by accident. I wanted us to end up kissing without anyone having to consciously make the decision to kiss or be held accountable for it. I wanted the kissing to just start happening (p. 3).
Clearly, any book that waxes poetic on the power of reading and storysharing to change lives automatically scores points with me. But Hudson does this really well, just sort of dropping bell hooks and Dorothy Allison and Maggie Nelson throughout. She also points to bookish details in Bechdel’s cartoons, such as specific book covers being drawn in panels where Bechdel is having sex or hearing life-changing news. The influence of amazing literature by womxn on Bechdel and on Hudson and their writing is gratifying and exhilarating.
In the corner of one panel, Bechdel has drawn the book Sappho Was a Right-On Woman, filling in the small queer details that had begun to infuse her life (p. 21).
Of course, the reader will understand her admiration of Fun Home and Bechdel more generally, but Hudson also explains her appreciation for reading lists provided by other authors. What I love is that in doing so, Hudson herself leaves us with her own illuminating reading list (the titles of which I quickly added to my own TBR list).
As bibliophiles (and the author clearly is), we get the importance of reading but Hudson teeters on the edge of full-fledged librarianhood when she discusses the importance of telling, sharing, and archiving our own stories. BIPOC, queer people, disabled people, women, and people of other underrepresented populations must tell their own stories.
Representation matters. Voice matters. And having heroes in whom you can see yourself is imperative.
There was no one to talk to about what I was going through. The only thing that seemed to know anything was books. In books, everything seemed to have happened to everybody already. There was peace in that, a kind of solidarity. Literature holds power (p. 125).
I love this about Hudson’s book. Clearly in Bechdel’s work, Hudson found stories in which she could see herself, in which she received validation and clarification, and in which she witnessed hope and celebration.
Are we, as queers, necessarily educators? Are we called to tell our truth by virtue of our identities? Are our bodies radical, our identities political, our work archive-able? Are we heroes just by existing?
I think the answer is yes (p. 105).
Hudson has paid it forward with A Little in Love with Everyone and she will undoubtedly inspire and comfort others as Bechdel did for her.
Title: A Little in Love with Everyone
Author: Genevieve Hudson
Publisher: Fiction Advocate
Publication Date: February 20, 2018 My Rating: Essential
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thanks, Genevieve Hudson and Fiction Advocate!
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We’ve been working so hard on home renovations that it is nice to have a bit of a break today. I’ve been super busy at work as well but am still carving out time to do some reading. Here are some of the highlights:
I just started and ARC of Hybrid Child by Mariko Ohara which, while it is a classic of Japanese speculative fiction, it is only in its first translation here in the US. It’s actually the first English translation of a major work of scifi by a Japanese woman author, period, so wow, that’s awesome. Always have to wonder what took so long but it’s here now, at least. And so far, I would recommend you get your mitts on this book! It is strange and mysterious and fascinating so far. I may take this Mother’s Day and read it all!
I just finished listening to Beauty Queens by Libba Bray and sorry but I didn’t love it. At all. I posted a little review on GoodReads. I just started listening to This Book is Overdue! by Marilyn Johnson and it’s not too great either actually… I mean, it would be more interesting to someone who didn’t know anything about librarianship I think but it’s also just dated. I am striking out with aduibooks lately… any suggestions? I also recently finished Monsoon Mansion and am working on reviews for A Little in Love with Everyone by Genevieve Hudson and The Book of M by Peng Shepherd, so be watching for those.
There have been a lot of great articles I’ve been reading lately, it’s hard to share them all! I recently created a Resource Guide to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (#MMIW) and so read a lot of those articles as I included them. I just couldn’t find a great bibliography or guide out there, so I figured the least I could do was to create one. So please share it and also let me know what’s missing from it; I plan to continue adding to it.
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!
Awu’s Story by Justine Mintsa and Cheryl Toman (Translator)
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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!
“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
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”
“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
“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
“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
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.
“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 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
“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
“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)
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.
“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
“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)
“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
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
“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
“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 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
“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
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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
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
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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I’ve finally caught up with this season of The Walking Dead. Like many of you, my partner and I are watching Wild Wild Country which is such a strange story that I had actually never heard before. We love Santa Clarita Diet with Drew Barrymore; it is hilarious. Oh and I also loved the documentary, Seeing Allred, about the indomitable Gloria Allred. It’s a Netflix original and you should watch it.
What are you reading and watching? What are your thoughts on these articles? Comment below and let me know!
Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighteris an intense story of survival and sisterhood.
And so much more.
Set in India against a backdrop of a strict caste system, arranged marriages, and harsh poverty, the two main characters of Rao’s poetic story develop an unlikely friendship that proves to be an enduring constant on which they build the strength needed to endure the violence and powerlessness they experience. 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.
The book begins with a story about a temple in the village of Indravalli and the old childless woman who was responsible for growing the trees whose wood was used to build it. Referring to the trees as her children, the old woman is complimented on her good fortune to have so many sons. At this, with “her eyes on fire,” the woman quickly gives the correction that the trees are not her sons but her daughters. This story and its subtle emphasis on fire, wholeness, and the girl-child sets the tone for the book and these recurring themes.
As the book continues, the reader witnesses Rao’s distinct talent for detailed descriptions of the surroundings of her main characters, Poornima and Savitha. She offers us a vibrant, albeit stark, picture of life in Indravalli and the ever-present gender inequities women face. Both characters experience trauma that forces them apart and drastically changes the trajectories of their lives.
There was a door, she remembered, a hidden one. Where all her treasures lay. And it remained closed, through the tea stall and the concrete room and the drugs, through the men and the men and the men. And it was through this door that the words found their way.
In her book, as in her BookPage “Behind the Book” article, Rao challenges her reader to reflect upon what a girl is worth.
A brown girl. A poor girl. A disabled girl. An uneducated girl. An ugly girl.
A girl in Khayelitsha, South Africa. A girl in Aleppo, Syria. A girl in Indravalli, India.
What is she worth, anyway? And why should we care?
Throughout Girls Burn Brighter, we must keep these questions in our minds. We must answer them honestly, then interrogate and re-interrogate those answers as well as our biases to get to the truth. The truth may be uncomfortable and unexpected. But to go through this process by reading this book and others like it, is one place to begin to explore the worth of girls. To see their light, their wisdom, their energy, their complexities, their fire, their spirit burning brighter.
Here’s a roundup of the new books by women being released in April that I am most excited about, with a focus on womxn and gender non-conforming people from 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!
“The creative accomplishments of this story are incredible: this unexpected family, this history, this embrace of the sacred and the profane, this easy humor, this deeply felt human-ness, this messy, perfect love story. Elaine Castillo is a masterful, heartfelt writer.” –Jade Chang
“Castillo delivers a powerful, increasingly relevant novel about the promise of the American dream and the unshakable power of the past.”–The Rumpus
“In this unforgettable novel, Castillo offers an important pushback on the idea of the American Dream and questions who gets access to it.”–Bitch Media
“This highly anticipated release is getting lauded as equal parts exciting, terrifying, and oh-so-relevant. Crackles on every page.”–Brightly
“Ireland delivers a necessary, subversive, and explosive novel with her fantasy-laced alternate history that does the all-important work of exploring topics of oppression, racism, and slavery while simultaneously accomplishing so much more. Brilliant and gut-wrenching.”–Booklist (starred review)
Winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, selected by Juan Felipe Herrera
“For a poet so capable of taking readers on far-flung journeys to places like Corfu, Cambodia, and New York, Xie is perhaps most remarkable for her ability to take readers deeper inside themselves than they have ever been. . . . Xie’s work is just a thing of pure, piercing beauty.”–Nylon “Despite Xie’s wide-ranging adventures, we remain burrowed in the mind of this magnificent poet, who braids in the lonesomeness and sorrow of being unmoored and on your own.”–The Paris Review, Staff Picks
“Feminist Manifestos provides an impressive and unprecedented archive of feminist activism. This rich compendium includes feminist petitions, manifestos, resolutions, charters and declarations from fifty countries, starting in 1642 and ending in 2017. Each selection is accompanied by informative introductions. I’ve been waiting for a book like this and can’t wait to assign it in my courses.”–Amrita Basu, Author of Violent Conjunctures in Democratic India
“This inspiring collection is breathtaking in its originality and daring in its premise. Reading the words collectively authored when feminists come together in struggle conveys the passion that inspires activism. Feminists thinking together in these manifestos provide hopeful and energizing answers to the question of what feminism is, challenging the categories and waves into which such variety is often awkwardly packaged.”–Myra Marx Ferree, Author of Varieties of Feminism: German Gender Politics In Global Perspective
“A fresh and unusual story that encompasses both the dark and the hilarious … If you’re jonesing for a dose of early 90s, Gen-X ennui, with a side of the supernatural, Sodom Road Exit is worth the price of admission.”–Lambda Literary
“With ferocious compassion and an unforgettable cast of characters, Amber Dawn has written an extraordinary novel of queer love and survival. Consent to be possessed by it.”–Megan Milks, author of Kill Marguerite and Other Stories
“This book is the queer, fat girl rom-com of my dreams! Plus-size fashion, a fat girl falling in love, nuanced friendships, and cheeseburgers! Did I mention cheeseburgers?” —Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’
“Funny, full of heart, and refreshingly free of a weight-loss arc.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
An extraordinary new poetry collection by the Poet Laureate of the United States.
“In these poems, with both gentleness and severity, Smith generously accepts what is an unusually public burden for an American poet, bringing national strife home, and finding the global in the local.”–NPR.org
“On a craft level, these poems are impeccable. . . . I know brilliance when I read it and this book is brilliant.”–Roxane Gay, Goodreads
“With devastating insight and remarkable style, Nafissa Thompson-Spires explores what it means to come to terms with one’s body, one’s family, one’s future. The eleven vignettes in Heads of the Colored People elevate the unusual and expose the unseen, forming an original—and urgent—portrait of American life.” (Allegra Hyde Of This New World)
My review of this unique and necessary book is coming soon.
“A welcome read in American contemporary literature. Though I Get Home is an intimate and complex look into Malaysian culture and politics, and a reminder of the importance of art in the struggle for social justice.” –Ana Castillo, author of So Far from God and prize judge
“A haunting, surprising, and rebellious collection that contains multitudes.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A fascinating, incredible true story about the person who spends her life cleaning up after traumas.
Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife. . . But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.”–IndieBound
“Offers a compelling case for radically revising the way we think and speak about women’s reproductive experience. . . . While written specifically for Christians, this will be a valuable read for anyone who questions the pronatalism and misogyny that constrains reproductive decision-making in the United States and seeks to shift our public debate in a more just direction.”–Library Journal, starred review
“In Trust Women, Rebecca Todd Peters lays bare the real question underlying the abortion debate: whether or not women can be trusted to make their own decisions. She is compassionate and clear-eyed in constructing her faith-based case for abortion, and her voice cuts through the noise to affirm what we at Planned Parenthood have long believed: the best arbiter of a woman’s reproductive destiny is herself.”–Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America
“Dianna Hunter’s engaging memoir thoughtfully recounts a feminist era, ethos, and way of life that until recently has been largely lost to the historical record. Told with nuanced self-reflection and respect for wider contexts, Hunter’s stories will challenge any narrow assumptions about what it was like to create and live the ‘second wave.’”–Finn Enke, author of Finding the Movement
“This pathbreaking volume brings together a diverse body of sexual, behavioral, and social science research on bisexuality. Arguing for a clear, evidence-based definition of bisexuality and standardized measures for assessing sexual orientation, it spotlights challenges that need to be addressed toward attaining these goals.”–IndieBound
“[The BreakBeat Poets is] one of the most diverse and important poetry anthologies of the last 25 years.”–Latino Rebels
“Black Girl Magic continues and deepens the work of the first BreakBeat Poets anthology by focusing on some of the most exciting Black women writing today. This anthology breaks up the myth of hip-hop as a boys’ club, and asserts the truth that the cypher is a feminine form.”–IndieBound
“Summerfield’s first novel is many things-a nod to late ’80s news and culture, a case study of divided and blended homes, and an imaginative exploration of childhood fears. Mostly, though, it’s the beautifully tender story of an eight-year-old’s broken heart and her journey toward mending it.”–Booklist
“You are about to meet your new favorite author. Zulema Renee Summerfield knows just where the fault lines lie in homes and hearts and families and in Every Other Weekend she leads us to those with a magical compassion. Summerfield’s voice is hilarious and scathing and healing. We find ourselves here, inhabitable. In Every Other Weekend, Summerfield brings us home.”–Tupelo Hassman, author of Girlchild
“Rhodes captures the all-too-real pain of racial injustice and provides an important window for readers who are just beginning to explore the ideas of privilege and implicit bias.”–School Library Journal, starred review
“An excellent novel that delves into the timely topic of racism… with the question of whether or not we really have come far when dealing with race relations.”–School Library Connection, starred review
“Bama is one of the most readily recognizable names in the pantheon of Tamil Dalit writers. She rose to fame with her autobiographical novel Karukku (1992), which chronicles the joys and sorrows experienced by Dalit Christian women in Tamil Nadu. Her works have been appreciated for embodying Dalit feminism and celebrating the inner strength of the subaltern woman.
This work is a collection of her 15 short stories, selected to showcase the range of social concerns and the depth of her perception of human frailties. In each of these stories, Bama documents the emerging influences on the lives and consciousness of people. She picks up a character one is likely to meet every day and builds a narrative that reveals, with a touch of ironic humour, the internalized caste and patriarchal sentiments that the society passes on to the future generation every single day.”–Amazon
“Never-before translated writings of one of Russia’s most important leaders in the struggle for women’s liberation.”–IndieBound
Alexandra Kollontai has the potential to be a true delight for the connoisseur by providing an alternative historical account of Russia and the socialist movement. However, what makes it transcend time is Kollontai’s chief belief that women should be at the centre of the economy, not the periphery.”–Spokeman
“This book is not a conventional story about war and its aftermath; it’s a powerful coming-of-age story in which a girl explores her identity in the wake of a brutal war that destroyed her family and home. Wamariya is an exceptional narrator and her story is unforgettable.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“At once heart-breaking and hopeful, [Wamariya’s] story is about power and helplessness, loneliness and identity, and the strange juxtaposition of poverty and privilege…. This beautifully written and touching account goes beyond the horror of war to recall the lived experience of a child trying to make sense of violence and strife. Intimate and lyrical, the narrative flows from Wamariya’s early experience to her life in the United States with equal grace. A must-read.”–Library Journal (starred review)
“Much like Homegoing, House of Rougeaux is an intergenerational novel that uses different characters to travel through decades of turmoil and triumphs.”–Bitch Media
“Jaeckel masterfully blends genres of mysticism, coming-of-age, folklore, and historical fiction with explorations of gender and race, creating a wondrous tale of hope and healing through trauma. A relevant work of love, determination, and the many small achievements that make up greatness, House of Rougeaux draws a new map of what it means to be family.”–IndieBound
“Susanna P. Campbell has written a fantastic book. It is one of the very few studies of on-the-ground peacebuilding that helps us to actually understand – and, hopefully, replicate – successful efforts. It is theoretically innovative, and draws on incredibly rich ethnographic material from 14 years of involvement in peacebuilding, both in the field and in the headquarters. All of these make Global Governance and Local Peace essential reading for scholars and practitioners alike.” Severine Autesserre, author of Peaceland and The Trouble With The Congo
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A unique debut novel by Tanaz Bhathena, A Girl Like That, is a fascinating and fierce story of young love, life, and death. The book grabs the reader from the first pages when you learn that the main characters just died in a tragic car accident. As they hover over the scene, they reflect upon their short lives and weave together a narrative that describes their limited but impassioned time together.
While on the surface Bhathena offers a reminder of how complicated life can be for young people in general, she also delivers valuable glances into the specific concerns of girls in Saudi Arabia. Family stresses, school bullies, and first love are issues with which most of us can relate. Bhathena expertly brings her reader into these concerns from a Saudi Arabian expat perspective, which may be new for some. While the truth of gender inequality in Saudi Arabia and across the world is challenging to face, Bhathena’s vivid writing style is accessible and relatable.
The author, Tanaz Bhathena.
An #OwnVoices book for Zoroastrianism and expat life, A Girl Like Thatdraws you in from the beginning. It’s a quick and immersive read that I whipped through in days. Here’s hoping that stories like this, that portray the real lives and concerns of girls around the world, will continue to flow into YA and other genres. Tanaz Bhathena is part of a growing group of talented womxn writers leading this important wave and I can’t wait to see what she gives us next.
Title: A Girl Like That
Author: Tanaz Bhathena
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publication Date: February 27, 2018 My Rating: Recommended
Disclosures: I received this book from another blogger, Karen at For What It’s Worth. Thanks, Karen! This post includes affiliate links. Support your local independent bookseller!
Jasmin Darznik’s latest book is a novel based on the life and work of Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad. Darznik’s first book, entitled The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life, was a New York Times bestseller. With her current work, Darznik tries her hand at recreating the life of Iran’s most provocative poet and filmmaker, and succeeds brilliantly.
Forugh Farrokhzad has been called “Iran’s Sylvia Plath” and lived a fascinating and heartbreaking life. Born in Tehran in 1935, Farrokhzad created rebellious poetry and films that challenged embedded societal norms. She lived and died fighting for the freedom of women to live independently, to create fearlessly, and to love fully. Farrokhzad’s poetry was intimate and honest at a time when being a “poetess” was not considered a serious profession for a woman. Against the backdrop of a domineering father, an unhappy arranged marriage, and a violent and stifling culture, Farrokhzad pushed Iran’s fundamentalist patriarchy to the limit. And she paid for it.
Author Jasmin Darznik was born in Tehran, Iran, and grew up in California.
To live an authentic and meaningful life, Farrokhzad was forced to make numerous sacrifices. While some may condemn Farrokhzad for her recklessness and certain decisions she made, readers of this book may not be so quick to judge. Darznik leads her reader into the fear and limitations that came with daily life as an Iranian woman; the violence as well as the lack of agency, freedom, and education is infuriating to read about. Darznik has done her homework and offers a detailed portrait of Farrokhzad while conceding an Iran of contrasting beauty and oppression. Presenting readers with the honesty of Farrokhzad’s poetry and the reality of her circumstances, while challenging us with her tortured decisions, Darznik brilliantly evokes sympathy and understanding for Farrokhzad. We follow Farrokhzad throughout her captivities and glimpse the determination and sacrifices necessary for her to live the free and independent life she longed for.
Darznik has a poetic writing style herself; with Song of a Captive Bird, she provides readers accessible entry into Iranian literature and poetry, and specifically into the work of Forugh Farrokhzad. One needn’t be a lover of poetry to appreciate this thoughtful and passionate story.
Looking for a few good books by womxn, international authors, trans/gender nonconforming writers, or other historically underrpresented populations? Take a look through some of my favorite websites for the latest in literary news, author info, and reviews.
AALBC is the largest and most popular website dedicated to African American and Black Literature from around the world. We celebrate Black culture, through books, for readers of all backgrounds to enjoy.
Electric Literature is a nonprofit dedicated to making literature more exciting, relevant, and accessible. They are committed to publishing work that is intelligent and unpretentious, to elevating new voices, and to examining how literature and storytelling can help illuminate social justice issues.
The virtual site for The Free Black Women’s Library, a mobile trading library and interactive biblio installation that features a collection of 900 books written by Black women. The library creatively uses books to build community and explore the intersections of race, class, culture and gender while creating space to center and celebrate the voices of Black women in art, film literature. This mobile library pops up monthly and mainly in unique and radical spaces throughout Brooklyn, NYC.
The Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian (GWSL) at the University of Wisconsin provides topical bibliographies and resource guides, lists of feminist and LGBTQ+ publishers and bookstores, as well as one-on-one research consultations to activists, scholars, and citizens around the world.
Glory Edim is the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, a Brooklyn-based book club and digital platform that celebrates the uniqueness of Black literature & sisterhood. Her book club has met with several award-winning authors including Margo Jefferson, Naomi Jackson, and Angela Flournoy. Well-Read Black Girl’s mission is to increase the visibility of Black women writers and initiate meaningful conversation with readers.
An online literary magazine by and about contemporary women writers from around the world. Women Writers, Women’s Books was launched in 2011 to be another platform for contemporary women writers and authors around the world writing in English.
What are your favorite bookish sites or blogs that feature diverse authors and titles?
Here’s a roundup of the new books by women being released in March that I am most excited about, with a focus on womxn and gender non-conforming people from 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!
“Corazón is a love story. It is about the constant hunger for love. It is about feeding that hunger with another person and finding that sometimes it isn’t enough. Salgado creates a world in which the heart can live anywhere; her fat brown body, her parents home country, a lover, a toothbrush, a mango, or a song. It is a celebration of heartache, of how it can ruin us, but most importantly how we always survive it and return to ourselves whole.”–Amazon
“The Brooklyn Museum published two volumes related to its groundbreaking exhibition, We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85, which focused on radical approaches to feminist thinking developed by women artists and activists of color. The first volume, a Sourcebook, was published in 2017 and focused on re-presenting key voices of the period by gathering a remarkable array of historical documents. Available in 2018, the second volume, New Perspectives, includes original essays and perspectives by Aruna D’Souza, Uri McMillan, Kellie Jones, and Lisa Jones that place the exhibition’s works in both historical and contemporary contexts. New Perspectives also includes two new poems by Alice Walker.”–Amazon
“A fresh, honest, and startling look at what it means to exist in a woman’s body, in all of its beauty and pain. Abby’s voice is inviting, unifying, and remarkably brave.”–Gillian Anderson, Actress, activist and co-author of We: A Manifesto For Women Everywhere
“Required reading for anyone who is a woman, or has ever met a woman. This means you.”–Jenny Lawson, author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy
“This is an encouraging, uplifting book to highlight in any library’s women’s history collection. It will be an inspiration to many young adult readers and browsers.”–VOYA, starred review
“Bagieu delivers a pièce de résistance that succinctly summarizes the obstacles and victories of these daring women. Insightful and clever, at times infuriating and disheartening, this serves as a reminder that the hardships women face today have been shared―and overcome―by many others.”–Kirkus, starred review
“The next big thing in literature and film.”—Ebony
“One of the biggest young adult fiction debut book deals of the year. Aside from a compelling plot and a strong-willed heroine as the protagonist, the book deals with larger themes, like race and power, that are being discussed in real time.”—Teen Vogue
“A remarkable achievement.”—Campus Lately
“Tomi Adeyemi is about to take both the literature and film world by storm.”—Jet
“Ever since the centuries of burning women healers as witches, because they taught women how to govern our own bodies, thus to control reproduction—the medical world hasn’t included all of humanity. Doing Harm shows what is left to be done, and directs both women and men toward healing.”–Gloria Steinem
“Dusenbery’s excellent book makes the sexism plaguing women’s health care hard to ignore…skillfully interweaving history, medical studies, current literature, and hard data to produce damning evidence that women wait longer for diagnoses, receive inadequate pain management, and are often told they are imagining symptoms that are taken seriously in men.”–Publishers Weekly, starred review
The Feminist Revolution offers an overview of women’s struggle for equal rights in the late twentieth century…It demonstrates as well that the feminist revolution was enacted by women from all backgrounds, of every color, and of all ages and that it took place in the home, in workplaces, and on the streets of every major town and city. This sweeping overview of the key decades in the feminist revolution also brings together for the first time many of these women’s own unpublished stories, which together offer tribute to the daring, humor, and creative spirit of its participants.–IndieBound
“Piercingly empathetic, Forna’s latest explores instinct, resilience, and the complexity of human coexistence, reaffirming her reputation for exceptional ability and perspective.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“The overarching message tucked into Scottish and Sierra Leonian writer Forna’s quietly resonant novel is this: Every living thing is the net sum of its history, and we carry the weight of our past on our shoulders.…Intricately woven…Forna’s novel is ultimately a mesmerizing tale studded with exquisite writing”–Booklist (starred review)
“Themes as diverse as growing up first-generation American, Latinx culture, sizeism, music, burgeoning sexuality, and the power of the written and spoken word are all explored with nuance. Poignant and real, beautiful and intense.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Debut novelist Acevedo’s free verse gives Xiomara’s coming-of-age story an undeniable pull, its emotionally charged bluntness reflecting her determination and strength. At its heart, this is a complex and sometimes painful exploration of love in its many forms, with Xiomara’s growing love for herself reigning supreme.”–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
How am I just hearing about this book now?? #ownvoices
From 3rd-century Syrian queen Zenobia to 20th-century Nigerian women’s rights activist Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, these are women who gave absolutely zero f**ks, and will inspire a courageous new movement of women to do the same.–IndieBound
“A brave transgender woman experiences both triumph and tragedy in this memoir of transitioning and so much more… Throughout, the author ably balances great accomplishments and strong emotions. Reading McBride’s inspiring story will make it harder to ostracize or demonize others with similar stories to share.”–Kirkus Reviews(starred)
“Sarah McBride’s powerful memoir, Tomorrow Will Be Different, is a brave and moving story that will inspire and galvanize readers to join the urgent fight for LGBTQ rights. The energy and vigor Sarah has brought to the fight for equality is ever present in this book and she starkly defines what is at stake, and how we can do better to advocate on behalf of all people.”–Senator Kamala Harris
“Anyone interested in the history of our country’s ongoing fight to put its founding values into practice—as well as those seeking the roots of current political fault lines—would be well-served by picking up Elaine Weiss’s The Woman’s Hour. By focusing in on the final battle in the war to win women the right to vote, told from the point of view of its foot soldiers, Weiss humanizes both the women working in favor of the amendment and those working against it, exposing all their convictions, tactics, and flaws. She never shies away from the complicating issue of race; the frequent conflict and occasional sabotage that occurred between women’s suffrage activists and the leaders of the nascent civil rights movement make for some of the most fascinating material in the book.”–Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hidden Figures
“Would You Rather? is an extraordinarily generous and affecting book. Katie Heaney has written something with a remarkable amount of room in it–enough for anyone to spread out and connect with. It’s deeply felt, clear-eyed, joyful, and illuminating.”–Mallory Ortberg, author of Texts from Jane Eyre: And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters
“What does it mean to find yourself, to know who you are and walk boldly in that truth? Would You Rather? takes readers on that journey along with Katie, reveling in the relief and glee of finding your tribe and frolicking in the exquisite joy of being a woman who loves women.”–Jenna Wortham, staff writer at TheNew York Times Magazine and co-host of the podcast Still Processing
“This book came straight out of a long thread on Deborah Alma’s Facebook page in October 2017. Something was released and given a space within social media. Many women felt emboldened by this to share more difficult stories, more details. As a poet, and an editor, it felt natural to Deborah to collect these stories somehow and it was obvious to collect them as poems.
This collection contains mainly previously unpublished work from 80 of our finest poets…”–Amazon
“Following the innovative collection Spill, Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s M Archive—the second book in a planned experimental triptych—is a series of poetic artifacts that speculatively documents the persistence of Black life following a worldwide cataclysm. Engaging with the work of the foundational Black feminist theorist M. Jacqui Alexander, and following the trajectory of Gumbs’s acclaimed visionary fiction short story “Evidence,” M Archive is told from the perspective of a future researcher who uncovers evidence of the conditions of late capitalism, antiblackness, and environmental crisis while examining possibilities of being that exceed the human. By exploring how Black feminist theory is already after the end of the world, Gumbs reinscribes the possibilities and potentials of scholarship while demonstrating the impossibility of demarcating the lines between art, science, spirit, scholarship, and politics.”–Duke University Press
“The notion of home has always been elusive. But as evidenced in these stories, poems, and testaments, perhaps home is not so much a place, but a feeling one embodies. I read this book and see my people—see us—and feel, in our collective outsiderhood, at home.”–Ocean Vuong, author of Night Sky with Exit Wounds
“Go Home! is a bold, eclectic chorus that provides an invigorating antidote to the xenophobia of our times.”–Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
“With callouts to a mind-revving roster of photographers, writers, filmmakers, intellectuals, and media magnets, erudite, discerning, and everdaring Tillman has forged a mischievous conflation of criticism and fiction. Incantatory, maddening, brilliant, zestful, compassionate, and timely, Tillman’s portrait of a floundering academic trying to make sense of a digitized world of churning, contradictory messages reveals the perpetual interplay between past and present, the personal and the cultural, image and life.”–Booklist (starred review)
Selected as “1 of 60 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018” by Huffington Post Selected as “1 of 101 Books to get excited about in 2018” by BookRiot
“A wholly satisfying blend of silliness, feminist critique, and deft prose makes this a collection of bedtime stories that will keep you up at night for all the right reasons.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Ortberg’s uniquely hilarious voice lends itself well to the dark and twisted milieu of fairy and folk tales and her reimagining of classics is predictably perverse, but also offers wonderful insight into the reasons why humans are so drawn to these stories of horror and loss.”–NYLON
“As one of America’s top Cuba hands, Huddleston has been a privileged eyewitness to key moments of history as well as backroom policy debates. Huddleston’s anecdotes of her life in Havana―everything from spy stories to an argument with Fidel she had at a cocktail party―are sometimes poignant, at other times hilarious, and always delightfully candid.”–Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
“Set in the 1990s, The Red Word interrogates the prevailing political preoccupations of that time: gender politics, third-wave feminism, and consent . . . A timely and nuanced dissection of rape culture.”–Booklist
“An aesthetically arresting interrogation of rape culture…timely and brilliant.”—Kirkus Reviews
Cited by Autostraddle as one of the “Queer and Feminist Books to Read in 2018”
“Here we have 49 women and men and queers and inter-sexuals throwing their everything at this moment in time when the patriarch is really shaking, and it looks like he’s about to tumble down. We’ve got this shiny new book. People are scared that nothing will be left after he falls except a bunch of poems. Pick up this glowing book as you’re crawling through the rubble, and poem by poem and page by page you’ll begin to know that you’ll be okay. You’re in there, and so are your friends. You won’t starve, you’re safe and strong thanks to all these proud, funny, violent, trembling words. Start memorizing. Cause the future is here and this stuff is true.” ― Eileen Myles
This is the first book to provide an in-depth sociological examination of the contemporary social and material conditions of health for transgender people. It draws upon the findings of a six-year ethnographic project in the United Kingdom that looked at the challenges faced by trans patients and the practitioners who work with them. Ruth Pearce shows that patients and practitioners are frequently divided by their different understandings of what it means for someone to be trans, a situation that is complicated by the operation of professional power within medical settings and that has profound consequences for both healthcare provision and for trans communities more widely. – IndieBound
“In this smart and necessary book, Sami Schalk persuasively argues that black women’s speculative fiction offers a rich archive of alternate framings of (dis)ability, race, sexuality, and gender that move us closer toward justice. Bodyminds Reimagined reveals how nonrealist representations can defamiliarize categories assumed to be self-evident, opening up new ways of thinking about methodology, trauma, metaphor, and politics. Schalk’s work pushes all of us in feminist studies, black studies, and disability studies to reimagine how we understand minds and bodies moving though the world.”–Alison Kafer, author of Feminist, Queer, Crip
“From experimental shorts and web series to Hollywood blockbusters and feminist porn, the work of African American lesbian filmmakers has made a powerful contribution to film history. But despite its importance, this work has gone largely unacknowledged by cinema historians and cultural critics. Assembling a range of interviews, essays, and conversations, Sisters in the Lifetells a full story of African American lesbian media-making spanning three decades.”–Duke University Press
“Emily X.R. Pan’s brilliantly crafted, harrowing first novel portrays the vast spectrum of love and grief with heart-wrenching beauty and candor. This is a very special book.”–John Green, bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down
“In this dazzling debut, author Emily X.R. Pan has created a spellbinding narrative about love, family, and what it means to grieve.”–Bustle
Blood Letters tells the astonishing tale of Lin Zhao, a poet and journalist arrested by the authorities in 1960 and executed eight years later, at the height of the Cultural Revolution. The only Chinese citizen known to have openly and steadfastly opposed communism under Mao, she rooted her dissent in her Christian faith–and expressed it in long, prophetic writings done in her own blood, and at times on her clothes and on cloth torn from her bedsheets.
Miraculously, Lin Zhao’s prison writings survived, though they have only recently come to light. Drawing on these works and others from the years before her arrest, as well as interviews with her friends, her classmates, and other former political prisoners, Lian Xi paints an indelible portrait of courage and faith in the face of unrelenting evil.–IndieBound
“This beautifully crafted work in slow and critical phenomenology allows us to understand the fatal consequences of skewed gender perception. Salamon takes us through the trial of Latisha King, murdered by a classmate who understood transgendered expression as an aggressive assault. Paying close attention to how the participants in the murder trial discuss and enact their normative passions about how the body should appear, Salamon shows us how phenomenological description that open up for strong criticism modes of perception and action that bear lethal consequences for those who contest hegemonic gender norms. This book is a model of careful and thoughtful philosophy and cultural criticism, bringing to life the resources of a phenomenological tradition that can name, describe, and oppose the obliteration of queer and trans lives. This work is as electric as its slow, making us think, and teaching us to see.”–Judith Butler, author of Gender Trouble
“Nothing is Okay is the second full-length poetry collection by Rachel Wiley, whose work simultaneously deconstructs the lies that we were taught about our bodies and our beings, and builds new ways of viewing ourselves. As she delves into queerness, feminism, fatness, dating, and race, Wiley molds these topics into a punching critique of culture and a celebration of self. A fat positive activist, Wiley’s work soars and challenges the bounds of bodies and hearts, and the ways we carry them.”–Amazon
“A must-read for anyone looking to critically explore how innumerable oppressions and indignities take root within our very bodies, and transform the ways in which we move through the world.”–Shanna K. Kattari, power/privilege/oppression scholar, University of Michigan School of Social Work
“With a finely tuned lens on the systems of oppression that traumatize bodies, and validation of worth beyond narrow standards of acceptability, Oppression and the Body is a groundbreaking voice in an intersectional somatic justice movement.”–Willy Wilkinson, MPH, author of the Lambda Literary Award-winning Born on the Edge of Race and Gender: A Voice for Cultural Competency
“This novel has everything: the circa-’99 lesbian indie-rock scene! Zines! Answering machines! . . . Our 90s nostalgia is hella high these days, and this tender, funny story made our aging hipster hearts sing.”–Marie Claire
“Insightful and brilliant, Stray City explores the stickiness of doing what’s expected and the strange freedom born of contradiction. I tore through this novel like an orphaned reader seeking a home in its ragtag yet shimmering world.”–Carrie Brownstein, New York Times bestselling author of Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl
“Krystal A. Smith writes of shape shifters, magical herbalists, and women ripe for love. Her collection of stories marries African American mysticism to speculative fiction announcing Smith’s solid place in the next generation of Afro Futurists. With its sensuous language, deftly drawn characters, and engaging narrative style, Two Moons shines bright.”–Jewelle Gomez, The Gilda Stories
“Two Moons takes readers on a whimsical journey to where ordinary women become goddesses and where Black Girl Magic is never denied. You’ll want to dive into these stories and never leave.”–Susana Morris, co-editor of Sycorax’s Daughters and the Crunk Feminist Collection
“A rich portrait of her grandmother’s full life…through lyrical prose interspersed with poetry, prayers, and legends…Readers will appreciate Edemariam’s work—part memoir, part history—for its personal look at an eventful century in Ethiopia.”–Booklist
“An ambitious, elegantly descriptive… profoundly lyrical narrative…Edemariam’s book offers a glimpse into a singularly fascinating culture and history as it celebrates the courage, resilience, and grace of an extraordinary woman. A richly evocative tale of family and international history.”–Kirkus Reviews
As trans and non-binary folks, we are often discouraged from advocating for our own bodies, as if we do not know what is best for ourselves. This anthology is filled with such tenderness, resilience and vulnerability; a beautiful love letter to queerness, to otherness, to the power of reclaiming our bodies as our own.–Emmett J. Lundberg, Writer & Filmmaker, Creator of Brothers the series
It’s rare that something can both break your heart and renew your spirit. My heart empathetically broke from the rawness and intimacy these pages hold. As I finished I was left feeling inspired and awestruck at the power of queer people – not just to endure but to use our experiences as a tool to empower others, like these words certainly will.–Karmilla Pillay-Siokos, Director of Slutwalk Johannesburg
“These gems of short fiction by women writers from Taiwan are a wonderful treat. Beautifully translated into English, they unfold and flicker with wistful, comic, and enigmatic lights and shadows. The vignettes and snapshots imbue existential anxiety and street life with grim and exquisite lyricism, mixed with unstoppable yearnings for sunlight and romance.” —Ban Wang, William Haas Professor in Chinese Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature, Stanford University
“Iraqi journalist and poet Mikhail lays bare the agonizing experiences of the Yazidi people at the hands of ISIS in this visceral account of the outskirts of modern day Iraq. In 2014, ISIS began invading villages of northern Iraq, killing most of the men and enslaving the women and children. Much of Mikhail’s account is made up of first-person testimonies of several survivors who speak of being repeatedly raped, sold to the highest bidder, and tortured. They recall losing their families and witnessing their children, raised by ISIS supporters, becoming “a distorted version” of who they once were. Mikhail also homes in on the rescue efforts of a man named Abdullah, a local beekeeper who used his knowledge of the region and the money he made selling honey in Iraq and Syria to cultivate a “hive of transporters and smugglers” to save women; he subsequently connected Mikhail to several survivors. Powerful and heartbreaking, this work lets the survivors tell their stories and highlights the courage of those risking their lives to rescue others.”–Publishers Weekly
“Writing in Caroline’s present-tense voice, Callender draws readers in and makes them identify with Caroline’s angst and sorrow and joy and pain. Embedding her appealing protagonist in a fully realized Caribbean setting, Callender has readers rooting for Caroline the whole way.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Lush descriptions bring the Caribbean environment to vivid life…. An excellent and nuanced coming-of-age tale.”–School Library Journal, starred review
“Set against the richly evoked backdrop of the Caribbean, Callender’s novel captures the exquisite agony and pain that accompanies rejection and abandonment. Caroline’s search for answers provides a steady through line for the story, but it’s the deeper questioning and reflection that set this book apart….Visceral, pensive, and memorable.”–Booklist, starred review
“Moonstruck makes me happy just thinking about it. I love everything about it. The first issue is a dreamy delight, a slice of life comic infused with queer romance and intersectional diversity.” –Tor.com
“In a year that often felt dark and dystopian, this delightful series from writer Grace Ellis (Lumberjanes), newcomer artist Shae Beagle, and editor Laurenn McCubbin was a wonderful escape. This world is populated by fantasy creatures who are also comfortable in their diverse identities, from lovestruck werewolves Julie and Selena to the upbeat non-binary centaur Chet.”–EW.com
“Puerto Rico Strong is a comics anthology that explores what it means to be Puerto Rican and the diversity that exists within that concept, from today’s most exciting Puerto Rican comics creators. All proceeds go to UNIDOS Disaster Relief & Recovery Program to Support Puerto Rico…
These stories follow individuals from diverse walks of life but are all part of the culture that is Puerto Rico.Puerto Rico Strong features art and writing by Rosa Colon, Vita Ayala, Naomi Franquiz, Javier Cruz Winnick, Sabrina Cintron, Ronnie Garcia, Fabian Nicieza, Joamette Gil, and many more!”–Amazon
“A Genealogy of Islamic Feminism offers a new insight on the changing relationship between Islam and feminism from the colonial era in the 1900s to the early 1990s in Indonesia.
Islamic feminism contributes to the rediscovery of Islam as the source of progress, the centering of women’s agency through spiritual equality, and the reworking of the private and public spheres. This book will appeal to anyone with interest in international women’s movements, interdisciplinary studies, cultural studies, women’s studies, post-colonial studies, Islamic studies, and Asian studies.”–Amazon
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