The Feminist Know-It-All: You know her. You can’t stand her. Good thing she’s not here! Instead, this column by gender and women’s studies librarian Karla Strand will amplify stories of the creation, access, use and preservation of knowledge by women and girls around the world; share innovative projects and initiatives that focus on information, literacies, libraries and more; and, of course, talk about all of the books.
Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.
The aims of these lists are threefold:
- I want to do my part in the disruption of what has been the acceptable “norm” in the book world for far too long—white, cis, heterosexual, male;
- I want to amplify amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, LGBIA+, TGNC, queer, disabled, fat, immigrant, Muslim, neurodivergent, sex-positive or of other historically marginalized identities—you know, the rest of us; and
- I want to challenge and encourage you all to buy, borrow and read them!
It’s the Spring Equinox as I write this, the sun is out and the temperature is rising. I feel spring coming and winter shedding its icy darkness for another year. I look forward to moving my reading outdoors, to feel the breeze and the soak in the sun. I always appreciate this time of transformation and renewal.
I hope where you are, the weather allows you to do all the things that bring you joy and rest. I wish you blessings for all the changes occurring in your own lives and the energy and resources you need to feel renewed and refreshed.
These 40 books are bound to help you transform, forget, recall, reflect, reimagine, rebound and recombobulate. Happy spring reading!
I’m thrilled that food memoirs are a thing and can’t wait to dive into this South Asian delicacy.
The title says it all: It’s urgent we reckon with violence against Black women and girls, past and present, and fight for a liberated future.
Trans/nonbinary butch poet R/B Mertz challenges religion, conservatism and tradition in this powerful memoir.
In English for the first time is the stunning debut novel by the award-winning Chesil, who writes of being Zainichi, an ethnic Korean born in Japan.
If you’ve not read Anders before, treat yourself to the super-fun “Unstoppable” series, of which this is book two.
Jones has given us a remarkable, no-holds-barred debut memoir about motherhood, disability and visibility.
What began as comics based on interviews with people in the Midwest (including Madison, WI, which is where I met Rhea) has become a stunning graphic novel about gender expression from people all over the country.
This historical novel centers a young Chinese heroine trying to make her way in the West against the backdrop of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
The last part of this complex and wholly original three-part novel brings it to a whole other level. I loved it.
This character-driven story of three generations of Southern Black women was called “a stellar debut” by beloved writer Jacqueline Woodson.
By Chantal V. Johnson (@chantalvjohnson). Little, Brown and Company. 320 pages. Out April 5.
Johnson’s debut is a captivatingly raw, funny and relatable take on the survivor narrative.
By Lisa Bird-Wilson (Métis and nêhiyaw). Hogarth. 288 pages. Out April 5.
Telling the story of an Indigenous woman adopted by white parents, Bird-Wilson has filled a glaring gap in contemporary lit while proving to be a bold and necessary new voice.
Dark and compelling, this debut novel is one of secrets, murder and loyalty. It’s one that will stay with you.
Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families–and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World
Award-winning scholar Roberts provides an overdue and urgent examination of this country’s racist child welfare system, which has its roots in colonialism, slavery and carcerality.
This is an essential read for our times by the only person who could’ve written it so exquisitely.
Bestselling author Celeste Ng says True Biz is “Part tender coming-of-age story, part electrifying tale of political awakening, part heartfelt love letter to Deaf culture” and “wholly a wonder.”
Written by Alia Trabucco Zerán and translated by Sophie Hughes. Coffee House Press. 240 pages. Out April 5.
Alia Trabucco Zerán intricately examines the circumstances under which four Chilean women committed murder and shines a light on the gendered aspects of such crimes.
In her latest novel, Pan effortlessly weaves Chinese mythology and Romeo and Juliet into a fresh tapestry of love, secrets and grief.
Written by Alice Walker and edited by Valerie Boyd. Simon & Schuster. 560 pages. Out April 12.
The edited journals of Alice Walker. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this one!
This is a searing and ultimately hopeful novel about (in)justice and the importance of learning from history.
By Okwiri Oduor. Scribner. 368 pages. Out April 12.
Kaleidoscopic in depth and breadth, this extraordinary debut is a magical and evocative story of mothers and daughters, longing and love.
Inspired by the author’s Filipino heritage and its folklore, this unflinching debut explores two outcasts whose lives overlap in death.
Mai Al-Nakib lyrically explores themes of homeland, tradition and agency as she relates the stories of generations of Arab women across Kuwait, the US, Iraq, India and Lebanon.
In a cold and bustling 1990s Seoul, a young woman struggles to find both connection and autonomy in this exploration of (in)visibility, rejection, misogyny and identity.
By Claire Kohda. HarperVia. 240 pages. Out April 12.
Can’t wait to sink my teeth into this fresh take on the vampire novel from a debut author on the rise.
Poetically centering a young enslaved African woman in Puerto Rico, this is a devastating yet essential addition to literature on enslavement, imperialism and women’s lives.
Um, it’s Janelle Monáe’s queer, wildly liberatory, Afrofuturist dream on paper. So yes, I wanna read it!
By Elizabeth Cummins Muñoz. Beacon Press. 264 pages. Out April 19.
This is a necessary and long-overdue examination of motherhood, immigration, class, “women’s work” and who performs it – and the consequences of the lack of value we put upon them all.
This engrossing and robust novel in three parts features three women in mid-century rural Kansas who fight for safety, agency and independence against formidable odds.
As full-length books on consensual non-monogamy increase in number, this is one that stands out in its candor, care and practical insights for newbies and experienced non-monogamists alike.
From Phyllis Wheatley to Mahalia Jackson to Dionne Warwick, this captivating examination of Black women in music doesn’t miss a beat. Endlessly readable, Shine Bright calls overdue attention to the groundbreaking women who made American music.
In the first of two books focused on trans well-being this month, Hil Malatino makes an imperative argument for the right of trans people to feel bad and use those feelings to continue fighting for joy and justice.
Tajja Isen’s debut collection is funny, poignant and super-smart in all the ways.
When Angela Davis refers to a book as “a robust, decolonial challenge to carceral feminism,” I read it. And you should too.
Here’s the second of the two books focused on trans health this month, and it’s an indispensable and empowering guide to dealing with transphobia, depression and anxiety, imposter syndrome, and more.
Important and accessible, Dr. Halliday’s latest book expertly examines Black women as cultural producers and consumers and their subsequent, undeniable influence on popular culture.
This award-winning debut focuses on family secrets, motherhood, mental health and migration.
Entry Lessons: The Stories of Women Fighting for Their Place, Their Children, and Their Futures After Incarceration
By Jorja Leap. Beacon Press. 288 pages. Out April 26.
Through case studies, interviews and oral histories, sociologist Jorja Leap shines a light on the challenges, violence and injustices faced by women after incarceration – and some initiatives that just might help end these traumatic cycles.
This reimagination of the life of the queen in the Indian epic the Ramayana makes for a rich and engrossing debut.
By Michelle De Kretser. Catapult. 288 pages. Out April 26.
This singular novel in two parts (read one and then flip it over and read the other) centers on misogyny, ageism and racism in the near-past and near-future. It’s witty, enticing and thought-provoking.