Reads for the Rest of Us: Feminist Books Coming Out in 2020

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.


Happy New Year!

While it had its ups and downs, 2019 was a great year for books written by women, trans and gender nonconforming writers and other historically marginalized writers. This year is shaping up to be even better—as evidenced by the 86 books in this very 2020 preview!

This is the second year this list has been published on Ms. and I’m so grateful for the platform. We love playing a part, however small, in raising awareness about these amazing writers and their creative works. We’ve heard your feedback and will continue to produce monthly Reads for the Rest of Us lists this year. 

As returning readers know, 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, hetersexual, male; I want to amplify amazing works by writers who are women, womxn, feminist, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA, international, LGBIA+, TGNC, queer, disabled, fat, immigrant, Muslim, neurodivergent, jjustice-involved, 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! 

There are some amazing books coming this year that you’ve probably already heard about that won’t be on this list. (Think: Wow, No Thank You by the hilarious Samantha Irby; the masterful American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins; Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick, which includes several “rediscovered” stories by Zora Neale Hurston; the fantastic debuts How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang, All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad andLittle Godsby Meng Jin;The Night Watchman by the incomparable Louise Erdrich; A Long Petal of the Sea by the unparalleled Isabel Allende; and memoirs by Linda Sarsour, Alicia Keys and Chelsea Manning. While you should still read these, I’ve left them and other higher-profile books off the list to make room for those that I’m excited about but haven’t seen on many other lists. 

In addition to increasing visibility of these books, I want to call attention to books from the widest variety of authors and publishers as possible, to encourage reading a variety of different perspectives and showcase books diverse genres and geographies. This list includes books and writers from over 25 different countries, including Korea, Nigeria, India, Colombia, Philippines, Việt Nam, Cambodia, Trinidad, Palestine, Guatemala, Somalia, Liberia, Taiwan, Ghana, Haiti, Morocco, the U.S. and more. The writers included below are women, TGNC, queer, LGB, aro/ace, Indigenous, Muslim, AAPI, Black, Latinx, refugees, immigrants, Jewish, Hmong, deaf, disabled, neurodivergent, Sikh and more. This list also represents over 55 publishers, from the Big Five to indies to university presses. 

Since the list is so long, I tried to keep the descriptions to 1-2 sentences each —which was not easy! Unlike many other lists you see this time of year, this one includes nonfiction as well as fiction. I also include poetry here, which most other lists do not; my 2019 list didn’t either, but then I rediscovered my love of poetry. While there are a few young adult (YA) novels here, I focused mainly on adult books, so there are no middle grade or children’s books. The list is front-loaded for obvious reasons: While we don’t have confirmation of all the books being published later in the year, I did include the ones that I know of and am excited about.  

These books will inform, entertain, educate and inspire. They are sure to make you laugh, cry, get mad and get going. One of them might be just what you need at just the right time. 

There’s only one way to find out: Read ’em all.


January

The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir

By E. J. Koh (@thisisEJKoh). Tin House Books. 203 pages. Out January 7.

This arresting memoir is a reflection of a daughter—EJ Koh—left in the U.S. by her mother who returned to Korea; Koh uses history, poetry and her mother’s letters to make sense of their relationship and herself.  

Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America

By Candacy Taylor (@candacytaylor). Abrams Press. 360 pages. Out January 7. 

This book is but one piece of a larger multidisciplinary project focused on Black mobility and culture through the lens of the Green Book; there will also be a board game, a children’s book, a Smithsonian exhibit and walking tours via mobile app.

Black Girl Unlimited: The Remarkable Story of a Teenage Wizard

By Echo Brown (@helloechobrown). Henry Holt and Co. (BYR). 304 pages. Out January 14.

In this semi-autobiographical debut, Echo Brown confronts themes of drug addiction, sexual abuse and depression within an evocative framework of magical realism and cements herself as a brilliant new literary voice at the same time. 

Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement

Edited by Ejeris Dixon (@ejeris) and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (@leahlakshmiwrites). AK Press. 260 pages. Out January 21.

This necessary collection is focused on practical, grassroots alternatives to current reactive measures for dealing with violence and crime.

Remembrance

By Rita Woods (@RitaWoodsAuthor). Forge Books. 416 pages. Out January 21.

Dr. Rita Woods’ debut is a beautifully written historical novel centering resistance to the racism of the past and the present.

The Seep 

By Chana Porter (@PorterChana). Soho Press. 216 pages. Out January 21.

If you’re looking for something completely different in the new year, check out Chana Porter’s absorbing debut for a peek into a utopian future brought on by a benevolent alien invasion, a future in which we still seek meaning, identity and connection. 

Becoming a Man: The Story of a Transition

By P. Carl (@pcarlphd). Simon & Schuster. 240 pages. Out January 28. 

P. Carl has written a candid, intimate and moving memoir about his gender transition in our current cultural moment and how it affected his relationships, his inner and outer identities and his place within the world.

Bury Me in Thunder

By moira j (@mxmoiraj). Sundress Publications. Out January 28. 

The debut collection of poetry from moira j focuses on Indigeneity, queerness, nature and kinship. $1 of every pre-order will go to support the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, a nonprofit organization aimed at providing safety for Indigenous women and their children.


February

Black Sunday: A Novel 

By Tola Rotimi Abraham (@thattola). Catapult. 288 pages. Out February 4.

Set in Lagos over a period of decades, this absorbing debut follows twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike from the inseparable bonds of relative comfort to the challenges and independence of poverty. 

A Black Women’s History of the United States

By Daina Ramey Berry (@dainarameyberry) and Kali Nicole Gross (@kaligrossphd). Beacon Press. 288 pages. Out Feb. 4.

The authors don’t claim that this volume is “the” definitive history of Black women in the U.S. but instead offer readers glimpses into lives all-but-lost to history and the importance of critical historiography to locate and share the experiences of Black women.

The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel 

By Abi Daré (@abidare_author). Dutton. 384 pages. Out February 4. 

In her compelling debut, Abi Daré presents us with Adunni, a bold, young Nigerian girl determined to find her place, her autonomy and her voice in the world.    

Stop Telling Women to Smile: Stories of Street Harassment and How We’re Taking Back Our Power

By Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (@fazlalizadeh). Seal Press. 256 pages. Out Feb. 4.

This is the book supporting the anti-harassment street art campaign created by Fazlalizadeh in 2012, which continues to light the flame of knowledge and resistance to fight for the safety and respect all women deserve. 

b, Book, and Me 

By Kim Sagwa (Author), Sunhee Jeong (Translator). Two Lines Press. 160 pages. Out February 11. 

In this slim volume, acclaimed South Korean writer Kim Sagwa presents us with a heartfelt look into today’s adolescence, with all its awkwardness, cruelty, questioning, searching and heartbreak. 

A Map Is Only One Story: Twenty Writers on Immigration, Family, and the Meaning of Home 

Edited by Nicole Chung (@nicolesjchung) and Mensah Demary. Catapult. 240 pages. Out February 11.

This powerful first anthology from Catapult magazine features twenty writers sharing their stories of migration, family and what home means to them. 

Dub: Finding Ceremony 

By Alexis Pauline Gumbs (@alexispauline). Duke University Press Books. 296 pages. Out February 14.

Troublemaker and love evangelist Alexis Pauline Gumbs is back with the final installment of her extraordinary trilogy of collections, with themes of Blackness, feminism, colonialism, humanity,  environmentalism and genius. Be sure to check out the first two, Spill and M Archive.

In Praise of Fragments

By Meena Alexander. Nightboat. 104 pages. Out February 18.

Published since her untimely passing in 2018, this is Meena Alexander’s last collection of works. It’s in these lyric fragments that the reader will discover the beautiful whole.  

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen 1) 

By K.S. Villoso (@k_villoso). Orbit. 496 pages. Out February 18. 

This sharp epic fantasy is as badass as it sounds, so get out there and immerse yourself in this provocative, unflinching world of action, surprises and hope. 

Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist

By Judith Heumann (@judithheumann) with Kristen Joiner (@kristenjoiner). Beacon Press. 232 pages. Out February 25.

This is the triumphant memoir of Judith Heumann, who drove the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and is one of the most influential activists of our time.

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot

By Mikki Kendall (@karnythia). Viking. 208 pages. Out Feb. 25.

With this unflinching collection of essays, Mikki Kendall serves feminists the reality check we need in order to make a more inclusive, equitable and useful feminism for the many, not just the privileged few. 

Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning 

By Cathy Park Hong (@cathyparkhong). One World. 224 pages. Out February 25.

With radical candor, Cathy Hong Park critically examines what it means to be Asian American today and challenges herself and her readers to abandon the idea of a monolithic Asian American experience and instead acknowledge a range of racialized emotions which have been heretofore dismissed.

A Nail the Evening Hangs On

By Monica Sok (@monicasokwrites). Copper Canyon Press. 88 pages. Out February 25.

Through poetry, Monica Sok processes her family’s experiences of the Khmer Rouge, immigration and the Cambodian diaspora with mythical, tender reflection.

We Unleash the Merciless Storm 

By Tehlor Kay Mejia (@tehlorkay). Katherine Tegen Books. 400 pages. Out February 25.

If you enjoyed Meija’s amazing debut, We Set the Dark on Fire, you will love its thrilling, twisting, queer, feminist sequel. 

We Want Our Bodies Back: Poems 

By jessica Care moore (@jessicacaremoor). Amistad. 224 pages. Out February 25.

Master poet jessica Care moore gifts us this latest collection of sharp, smart and defiant pieces and we will be better humans because of it.  


March

Postcolonial Love Poem: Poems

By Natalie Diaz (@NatalieGDiaz). Graywolf Press. 80 pages. Out March 3.

The brilliant Natalie Diaz presents us with a captivating successor to her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, this one focused on embodiment, the layers of Indigeneity and the notions of goodness and love. 

These Ghosts Are Family: A Novel 

By Maisy Card (@dracm). Simon & Schuster. 288 pages. Out March 3.

Maisy Card’s remarkable debut is for anyone out there with family drama or trauma and for those who have tried to make their own way despite (or in spite of) it.

Fiebre Tropical: A Novel

By Juliana Delgado Lopera (@julianadlopera). Amethyst Editions. 240 pages. Out March 4.

Juliana Delgado Lopera’s bilingual novel about young Colombian immigrant Francisca is exceptional, unflinching, cheeky and queer AF.

Our Voices, Our Histories: Asian American and Pacific Islander Women 

Edited by Shirley Hune and Gail M. Nomura. NYU Press. 520 pages. Out March 10.

This immersive anthology begins to address gaps and transform understanding in history and literature by, for and about Asian American and Pacific Islander women.

Sensuous Knowledge: A Radical Black Feminist Approach for Everyone

By Minna Salami (@msafropolitan). Zed Books. 216 pages. Out March 15.

I am firmly convinced that the way to true equality and justice for all will be on a radical Black queer feminist road; Sensuous Knowledge is Ms. Afropolitan Minna Salami’s insightful contribution to our success. 

The Mountains Sing

By Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (@nguyen_p_quemai). Algonquin Books. 352 pages. Out March 17.

A vast, epic historical novel set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam conflict through the eyes of the people themselves. 

That Hair 

By Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida (Author), Eric M B Becker (@ericmbbecker) (Translator). Tin House Books. 200 pages. Out March 17.

This original debut deftly addresses big themes in a slim volume: racism, colonialism, feminism, migration and history, to name a few. 

The City We Became

By NK Jemisin (@nkjemisin). Orbit. 448 pages. Out March 24. 

Award-winning and bestselling writer N.K. Jemisin does it again, this time with a unique, immersive story of saving New York City that may just change the way you think about sci fi and fantasy—and the Big Apple.

Lakewood: A Novel 

By Megan Giddings (@megiddings). Amistad. 288 pages. Out March 24.

With her arresting debut, Megan Giddings tackles themes of class, race and labor, all in a menacing and gripping dystopian tale of medical experimentation and what we’ll do for those we love.

My Sister: How One Sibling’s Transition Changed Us Both

By Selenis Leyva (@selenis_leyva) and Marizol Leyva (@iam_marizol). Bold Type Books. 265 pages. Out March 24. 

Written from the perspective of two sisters—one a trans activist and the other an actor in “Orange is the New Black”—this book candidly relates the challenges and triumphs of supporting a loved one through exploration and affirmation of their authentic self.

Choice Words: Writers on Abortion 

Edited by Annie Finch (@anniefinchpoet). Haymarket Books. 420 pages. Out March 31.

This one-of-a-kind anthology includes poems, essays, excerpts and stories about reproductive freedom by the likes of Amy Tan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Gloria Naylor, Lindy West, Audre Lorde, Camonghne Felix, Leslie Marmon Silko and Gloria Steinem, to name a few. 

Days of Distraction: A Novel 

By Alexandra Chang (@alexandra_chang). Ecco. 320 pages. Out March 31.

This timely debut is a provocative examination of love and life in the 21st century, wrought with all the anxieties and complexities that come from existing in a capitalist society of ubiquitous technology, racism and distractions. 


April 

Afterlife

By Julia Alvarez (@writerjalvarez). Algonquin. 272 pages. Out April 7.

After almost 15 years, the irresistible Julia Alvarez is back with this remarkable and nuanced novel exploring immigration, humanity and compassion in a bitter and fractured world. 

The Beauty of Your Face: A Novel 

By Sahar Mustafah (@saharmustafah). W. W. Norton & Company. 312 pages. Out April 7.

With grace, empathy and wisdom, this robustly written debut examines an American Muslim immigrant experience against the backdrop of a school shooting.

The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext 

Edited by Felicia Rose Chavez, José Olivarez (@_joseolivarez) and Willie Perdomo (@willieperdomo). Haymarket Books. 225 pages. Out April 7.

New to poetry and don’t know where to start? Looking to broaden your poetry perspectives? Either way, you should be reading the exceptional Breakbeats Poets series from Haymarket; the latest features the work of Latinx masters and up-and-comers alike. Seriously, just read them all. 

Dear Girl 

By Aija Mayrock (@aijamayrock). Andrews McMeel Publishing. 128 pages. Out April 7.

This debut poetry collection, by spoken word artist extraordinaire Aija Mayrock, is a testament to the beauty, hardships and power of womanhood.

Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary

By Sasha Geffen (@sashageffen). University of Texas Press. 264 pages. Out April 7.

This is a unique examination of gender fluidity and queerness across genres of popular music; a must-read for music lovers.

Junebat 

By John Elizabeth Stintzi (@stintzi). House of Anansi Press. 120 pages. Out April 7. 

In a powerful debut collection of poetry, the multitalented John Elizabeth Stintzi candidly details the fear, depression and isolation of examining one’s gender identity. Also be sure to check out Stintzi’s outstanding debut novel, Vanishing Monuments, due out in May from Arsenal Pulp Press.

Heaven 

By Emerson Whitney (@emersonwhitney_). McSweeney’s Publishing. 200 pages. Out April 14.

Emerson Whitney’s first prose book is a frank and absorbing examination of transness, brokenness, mothering, femininity, embodiment and truth.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982: A Novel

By Cho Nam-Joo (Author), Jamie Chang (Translator). Liveright. 144 pages. Out April 14.

Now available for the first time in English, this novel is said to have sparked a new feminist movement in Korea.

Love After Love: A Novel 

By Ingrid Persaud (@ingridpersaud). One World. 336 pages. Out April 14. 

In a truly Caribbean novel, Ingrid Persaud tells the story of one Trinidadian family struggling to stay together across miles, secrets and differences. 

The Prettiest Star

By Carter Sickels. (@CarterSickels). Hub City Press. 288 pages. Out April 14. 

Carter Sickles has written an unforgettable novel detailing a man with AIDS who goes home to Appalachia to die and touches the heart of love, sex, home and understanding. 

Subduction

By Kristen Millares Young (@kristenmillares). Red Hen Press. 272 pages. Out April 14.

In this utterly unique and important first novel, Young examines themes of love, intrusion, loss, community and trust against a backdrop of a Makah reservation in the Pacific Northwest.

Vagabonds

By Hao Jingfang (Author), Ken Liu (Translator). Gallery / Saga Press. 640 pages. Out April 14.

This is the sci fi giant to read in 2020; and I mean that figuratively (it’s challenging but lyrically written) and literally (it’s 640 pages). 

Year of the Dog 

By Deborah Paredez (@debparedez). BOA Editions Ltd. 128 pages. Out April 14.

Candid and chilling, Deborah Paredez’s second collection of poems relates her stories and memories of being a Latinx daughter during the Việt Nam conflict. 

Deluge 

by Leila Chatti (@laypay). Copper Canyon Press. Out April 21.

Tunisian American poet Leila Chatti’s powerful collection of poems centers her faith, health, embodiment, shame and womanhood.

How to Pronounce Knife: Stories 

By Souvankham Thammavongsa. Little, Brown and Company. 192 pages. Out April 21. 

Thammavongsa’s radiant debut collection of short stories is full of precarity, strength, uncertainty, messiness and life.  

Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America 

By Laila Lalami (@LailaLalami). Pantheon. 208 pages. Out April 28.

Personal and searing, Laila Lalami’s latest book is focused on immigration, white supremacy and what it means to be “American”.


May

Hearing Happiness: Deafness Cures in History

By Jaipreet Virdi (@jaivirdi). University of Chicago Press. 328 pages. Out May 1.

Part memoir, part history, this informative and engaging book by University of Delaware professor Jaipreet Virdi explores deafness in the U.S. through the lens of the neverending search for a “cure”.  

Out of the Crazywoods

By Cheryl Savageau. University of Nebraska Press. 256 pages. Out May 1. 

In this unique and poignant memoir, Abenaki/French Canadian poet Cheryl Savageau describes her bipolar disorder in lyrical, clear and candid prose. 

The New American 

By Micheline Aharonian Marcom. Simon & Schuster. 272 pages. Out May 5.

Inspired by interviews with Central American refugees, the latest captivating novel by Micheline Aharonian Marcom centers a Dreamer named Emilio, who is determined to return to California after being deported.  

Felix Ever After 

By Kacen Callender (@kacencallender). Balzer + Bray. 368 pages. Out May 12.

Award-winning author Kacen Callendar has written a vibrant and important YA novel about love: Felix Love, a transgender teen who is looking for love, for self and for others. Callender also has an LGBTQ-focused book for younger readers, King and the Dragonflies, out in February.

Hot with the Bad Things 

by Lucia LoTempio (@lucialo). Alice James Books. 100 pages. Out May 12.

In this unsparing, unapologetic collection of poems, Lucia LoTempio addresses violence against women in intricate, powerful and potent style and language.   

My Baby First Birthday

By Jenny Zhang (@jennybagel). Tin House Books. 200 pages. Out May 12.

In her latest compelling poetry collection, Jenny Zhang dares you to flinch as she explores love and existence, innocence and anger, patriarchy and whiteness, capitalism and womanhood. 

My Mother’s House: A Novel

By Francesca Momplaisir. Knopf. 3043 pages. Our May 12. 

Not only is this a startling thriller, My Mother’s House is a gripping examination of immigration, the American Dream and the dangers of toxic masculinity.

Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots

By Morgan Jerkins (@morganjerkins). Harper. 304 pages. Out May 12.

Following her brilliant This Will Be My Undoing, Morgan Jerkins takes readers on a journey to recreate the migrations of her ancestors and explores her present through the legacies of her past.

Boys of Alabama: A Novel

By Genevieve Hudson (@genhudson). Liveright. 272 pages. Out May 19.

I love Gen Hudson’s writing so was excited to see she’s publishing her first novel, a coming of age story steeped in magical realism and themes of queerness, immigration and masculinity.

Weird but Normal: Essays on the Awkward, Uncomfortable, Surprisingly Regular Parts of Being Human

By Mia Mercado (@miamarket). Harper One. 272 pages. Out May 19. 

We’ll all need a giant dose of humor this year and Mia Mercado’s collection of essays will make you laugh out loud at the ridiculous truths of being a human. 

The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Liberal Divide

By Zerlina Maxwell (@zerlinamaxwell). Hachette Books. 256 pages. Out May 26.

It seems I can’t turn on Sirius XM or any of my go-to news stations lately without hearing Zerlina Maxwell and I am a better citizen because of it. In her first book, she examines and exposes the shortcomings of liberal politics as well as what needs to be done to get us all out of this current political crisis. 

Fairest: A Memoir 

By Meredith Talusan (@1demerith). Viking. 320 pages. Out May 26.

In one of the most insightful memoirs of the recent past, Meredith Talusan tells her story of being born a Filipino boy with albinism to becoming a Filipino American woman with albinism. Truly triumphant in form and content.


June

The Book of Rosy: A Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border 

By Rosayra Pablo Cruz with Julie Schwietert Collazo (@collazoprojects). HarperOne. 256 pages. Out June 2.

With the assistance of Julie Schwietert Collazo, founder of Immigrant Families Together, Rosy Pablo Cruz shares her story of her desperate departure from Guatemala and her subsequent separation from her two children at the U.S. border. Illustrative of the human costs of inhumane immigration policies. 

The Dragons, the Giant, the Women: A Memoir

By Wayétu Moore (@wayetu). Graywolf. 272 pages. Out June 2.

The author of the captivating novel She Would Be King has penned an exceptional memoir of her life in and exodus from war-torn Liberia and her adjustment to living as an African immigrant in the U.S.

You Exist Too Much: A Novel 

By Zaina Arafat (@zainaarafat). Catapult. Out June 9.

In her uniquely written debut novel, Zaina Arafat tackles the challenges of being a queer Palestinian American attempting to disentagle identities to locate and celebrate the true self. 

Say It Loud!: Black Voters, Voices & the Shaping of American Democracy

By Tiffany Cross (@TiffanyDCross). Amistad. 176 pages. Out June 16.

This may be the most important election year in our lifetimes and The Beat DC’s Tiffany Cross is here to explain how and why Black voters hold the key to our success. 

Mexican Gothic 

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia (@silviamg). Del Rey. 320 pages. Out June 30.

Magical realism meets gothic suspense in this imaginative historical novel by the author of the outstanding Gods of Jade and Shadow. Silvia Moreno-Garcia has another book, Untamed Shore, scheduled for release in February from Agora Books, so be sure to check out both. 


July

Crooked Hallelujah 

By Kelli Jo Ford (@kellijoford). Grove Press. 304 pages. Out July 14.

Kelli Jo Ford has penned an extraordinary debut set in 1974 in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma that is focused on mothers and daughters, the strength and sacrifices of women and the journey that growth requires. 

The Names of All the Flowers: A Memoir

By Melissa Valentine (@iammelissav). The Feminist Press. 296 pages. Out July 14. 

This is the striking debut memoir about a childhood in Oakland and the shooting death of a beloved older brother; it is also a powerful call to action to stop the endless violence against communities of color in the U.S. 

The Sky is Blue with a Single Cloud 

By Kuniko Tsurita (Author), Ryan Holmberg (Translator). Drawn & Quarterly. 258 pages. Out July 21. 

Available for the first time in English, this volume collects some of cartoonist Kuniko Tsurita’s best graphic short stories in all their feminist, gender-questioning, visionary, dystopian glory.


August

The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel

By Akwaeke Emezi (@azemezi). Riverhead Books. 256 pages. Out August 4.

Those of you who keep up with my lists know that Akwaeke Emezi is one of my favorite writers of the last few years, so I am thrilled they are back with their next unforgettable novel of connection, understanding, loss and growth.

Inferno: A Memoir of Motherhood and Madness 

By Catherine Cho (@catkcho). Henry Holt and Co. 256 pages. Out August 4.

This debut memoir is an engrossing and frightening account of the author’s post-partum psychosis and subsequent commitment to a psychiatric hospital; it’s a candid story of motherhood, mental health and love.  

Say Your Word, Then Leave: The Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and the Power of the Truth

By Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah). Dey Street Books. 304 pages. Out August 11. 

We owe journalist Karen Attiah a debt of gratitude for keeping the important story of Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination in the public eye. With this volume, she can be assured that she’s made her mark on history and our current moment with an urgent call for truth.

Somewhere in the Unknown World: A Collective Refugee Memoir 

By Kao Kalia Yang (@kaokaliayang). Metropolitan Books. 288 pages. Out August 11.

Award-winning author Kao Kalia Yang has collected stories from a variety of Minneapolis refugees into this beautifully written “collective memoir” which will enlighten readers to the struggle, humanity and agency of refugees throughout the U.S.. 

Aftershocks: A Memoir 

By Nadia Owusu (@nadiaowusu1). Simon & Schuster. 320 pages. Out August 18.

Nadia Owusu has penned an engaging and reflective new memoir focused on universal themes of home, abandonment, identity and autonomy.  


September

On Intersectionality: Essential Writings

By Kimberlé Crenshaw (@sandylocks). The New Press. 480 pages. September 1.

This one was on my list last year but—as so often happens in publishing—it was delayed. I feel this is our year and if we’re lucky, we’ll have the definitive Crenshaw collection in our hands by this time next year.

Revolution in Our Lifetime: A Short History of the Black Panther Party 

By Donna Murch (@murchnik). Verso. 176 pages. Out September 1. 

Renowned historian Donna Murch has written a fascinating and accessible new history of the Black Panther Party in honor of the 50th anniversary of its founding. Consider it #RequiredReading.

Bestiary: A Novel

By K-Ming Chang (@k_mingchang). One World. 272 pages. Out September 8. 

This utterly original debut traces three generations of Taiwanese women as they grapple with myth, secrets, queerness and migration. 

ACE: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Identity, and the Meaning of Sex

By Angela Chen (@chengla). Beacon Press. Out September 15. 

Highly informative and readable, journalist Angela Chen’s examination of asexuality is poised to be the definitive volume of the topic.  

Transcendent Kingdom: A novel

By Yaa Gyasi. Knopf. 288 pages. Out September 15. 

If you read Gyasi’s triumphant debut, Homegoing, you know what an extraordinary storyteller she is. Her follow up is equally powerful, focused on an immigrant Ghanaian family, their complex, heartbreaking trauma and their emotional fight for survival.  


October

Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker

By Alice Walker (Author), Valerie Boyd (Editor). 37 Ink. 512 pages. Out October 1.

These are Alice Walker’s journals; need I say more? We are not worthy.

Black Futures 

By Kimberly Drew (@museummammy) and Jenna Wortham (@jennydeluxe). One World. 512 pages. Out October 13.

I haven’t seen this one yet but am so intrigued by over 500 pages of works representing the current—and future—Black cultural moment. It’s said to include stories, poems, recipes, Tweets, essays, art and more.


November

The Conductors

By Nicole Glover (@ni_glover). John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books. 384 pages. Out Nov. 3.

I love speculative fiction that ties an envisioned future with historical roots and Nicole Glover’s debut does just that; then it adds in pinches of mystery and magic for good measure. 


December

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America

By Ijeoma Oluo (@ijeomaoluo). Seal Press. 304 pages. Out December 1.

The incomparable Ijeoma Oluo follows her bestselling So You Want to Talk About Race with this ambitious, well-researched examination of the impact white men’s stranglehold on leadership throughout history has had on the rest of us.

True Names: Four Generations of My Afro Appalachian Family 

By Malaika Adero (@malaikaadero). Center Street. 272 pages. Out December 1.

With the growth of books written about Appalachian life recently, we are in dire need of stories about the diversity of experiences and families in the area; Malaika Adero offers us one of these invaluable perspectives. 

About

Karla J. Strand is the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian for the University of Wisconsin. She completed her doctorate in Information Science via University of Pretoria in South Africa with a background in history and library science, and her research centers on the role of libraries and knowledge in empowering women and girls worldwide. Karla is working on her first book, a history of the Office of the GWS Librarian, due out in 2020. Tweet her @karlajstrand.