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!
February is half-over! Is anyone else finding it near impossible to keep up with responsibilities lately? I hope it’s not just me… well, apologies for my perpetual tardiness so far in 2021. I am trying to get back on track and many thanks for your patience and kind words of support.
Here’s to all of us getting through the rest of winter as gracefully and painlessly as possible. I’m confident that the 47 books on this list will help.
This is an extraordinary, searing and brave debut memoir of illness, healing, hope and new beginnings.
In her latest illuminating call-to-action, award-winning writer and activist Harsha Walia examines how migration is part and parcel of colonization, capitalism and climate change.
With Do Better, racial justice educator and spiritual activist Rachel Ricketts has provided a guidebook for self-care and healing while doing the exhaustive labor that comes with fighting white supremacy.
This is easily, already, one of my picks of the year. A transformative volume, it features contributions from 80 Black writers and ten Black poets—over half of whom are women, queer and/or transgender—who expertly and creatively cover this 400-year timespan, #RequiredReading.
An atmospheric debut, this fantasy centers the power of a redefined sisterhood to overcome a seemingly impossible fate.
This is a beautiful volume of stories, photos and diary entries from 30 girls living in 27 countries around the world. From them, we learn what the lives of ordinary girls are like, from their own perspective.
Award-winning writer Sonia Faleiro delivers a disarming account of the disappearance and murder of two teen girls in northern India and a crucial challenge to traditional notions of caste, gender, sexuality and violence.
It can be challenging to find a single volume that is rigorously researched, endlessly readable and undoubtedly useful in the fight against rape and sexual harassment, but this one does it.
Set in Barbados, this intense debut thriller speaks volumes about domestic violence, class struggle, loss and the legacy of trauma.
Set in 2008 Chicago, this powerful debut examines motherhood, race and the American Dream with candid and impassioned beauty.
This groundbreaking anthology features some of today’s hottest authors writing about some of the hottest topics. It’s luscious, tender, sexy, erotic, queer AF and challenges norms up, down and around the spectrum.
In this extraordinary debut collection, former Wall Street Journal reporter Te-Ping Chen insightfully explores life in modern China in all its beauty, flaws and volatility.
Loud Black Girls: 20 Black Women Writers Ask: What’s Next? (Slay in Your Lane)
This is an insightful, funny and inspirational anthology of essays by Black British women writers weighing in on pop culture, our historical moment, Black girlhood and womanhood as well as the importance of finding your own voice.
Randa Jarrar is Muslim, Egyptian, Palestinian, American, fat, queer, feminist and, in her cathartic, candid and adventurous memoir, on a journey to find her joy and taking no prisoners along the way.
From bestselling writer Renée Watson comes this charming coming-of-age story focusing on themes of race, self-love, community, poetry, finding your voice and living your joy.
Journalist Amelia Pang has written an urgent, shocking and enraging account of the forced labor in China behind the cheap goods we purchase here in the U.S.
Set against the lush and unpredictable backdrop of Florida, these 11 stories present women and girls as we really are: complex, deep, smart, sour, joyful, tough, loving and powerful.
By Dr. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg). University of Minnesota Press. 368 pages. Out now.
This is another of my favorites so far this year. Probably unlike anything you’ve ever read, this remarkable novel is written in prose and fragments and is an alarmingly beautiful tale of decolonial resistance and the uncovering of a world of natural abundance, connection and compassion.
By E. Lily Yu. Erewhon. 288 pages. Out now.
In her spellbinding debut, E. Lily Yu takes us on a journey from Afghanistan to Australia, from childhood to growth, from family to individual, from reality to imagination—and back again.
Each of these eleven stories feel like a dream. Sometimes creepy, sometimes witty, but always reflective of our innermost fears and vulnerabilities, always haunting, always extraordinary.
Rebecca Carroll has written this remarkable memoir of her time growing up as the only Black child in the neighborhood, of meeting her white birth mother and of her subsequent search for identity, wholeness, acceptance and authenticity.
Following her wildly successful short story collection, Leesa Cross-Smith has written a lovely novel about two strangers, brought together unexpectedly, and the hope and connection they provide one another.
The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation
To celebrate and honor Black motherhood, Anna Malaika Tubbs has written this triumphant debut exploring the lives and influence of Berdis Baldwin, Alberta King and Louise Little, the mothers of three of the most important figures in US history.
This critical collection of essays centers the call for greater understanding of sex work as work and for increased respect for sex workers themselves. By including a wide variety of contributors, topics and writing styles, this volume models the crucial ways forward.
This remarkable exploration into women leaders—and why there aren’t more of them—is an indispensable guide to addressing sexism and overcoming inequities.
This is the English-language debut from Argentinian writer Betina González about the wild discord that erupts in a small Midwestern town and the three unlikely people who set out to rescue themselves and each other.
Founder of the wildly popular @officialmillennialblack Instagram account, Williams has written this handy pocket-sized guide for those working to up their anti-racist game. And we all need to do that.
If you haven’t heard of this thrilling multi-genre sophomore novel by the amazing talent Sarah Gailey by now then I am not sure where you have been. But now you know, so get to reading!
Set in 1980s Chile, this remarkable debut centers a child who accompanies her father on his traveling sales in an examination of family, memory and the precarity of life.
By Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD. Conari Press. 264 pages. Out Feb. 16.
In this updated edition of a classic in ecofeminism, Jean Shinoda Bolen poetically addresses the continuing need to save the earth and the relationship between women and trees necessary to do so.
By Dr. Dorothy Dinnerstein. Other Press. 336 pages. Out Feb. 16.
Originally published in 1976, this feminist classic addressing gender roles in parenting is presented in an updated edition with a new introduction by Gloria Steinem.
The second book in this riveting dark fantasy trilogy is full of demons, magic, thrills and imagination; it is the perfect distraction from reality we need right now.
It’s terribly difficult to sum this brilliant addition to the examinations of inequality, racism and democracy in this country in one sentence, so I will let Ibram X. Kendi do it for me: “This is the book I’ve been waiting for.”
Making tremendous use of archives, Tamika Y. Nunley examines the multitude of ways Black women resisted oppression and fought against the limitations placed upon them in 19th century Washington, D.C.
With vivid narrative and critical analysis, Bradley presents an innovative examination of the profound legacy and influence of Southern hip hop music and culture.
A gripping memoir about the abuse Tanya Selvaratnam suffered at the hands of former New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Featuring the manager of a death hostel in Banaras, India, who is struggling with his own past, this debut was the winner of the 2018 Prize for New Immigrant Writing from Restless Books.
With Symbiosis, we re-enter the belly of the beast as civilization clings to survival in this kaleidoscopic sci-fi saga.
Lots of buzz about this one—and rightfully so. Centering a dependable, overachieving, freshly-minted PhD who explores her adulthood, her autonomy and her agency, this delightful debut will speak to many readers.
From multiple perspectives, Tadjo examines the effects of pandemics like the Ebola crisis and the toll they take on our health, our communities and our humanity. Particularly relevant to our times.
By Dr. Daphne A. Brooks. Belknap Press. 608 pages. Out Feb. 23.
In this engaging volume, acclaimed music critic Daphne A. Brooks presents a robust and authoritative exploration of the radical intellectual and feminist traditions of Black women’s music.
Edited by Briona Simone Jones. The New Press. 224 pages. Out Feb. 23.
Dubbed as the companion anthology to Beverly Guy-Sheftall’s groundbreaking classic Words of Fire, this outstanding collection honors the legacy and contributions made by Black lesbian writers throughout the last two centuries.
Drawing from science fiction, Filipino folklore, fantasy and horror, these thirteen stories are monstrous, scary, joyful, unexpected, inventive, eerie and weird.
By Georgina Lawton (@GeorginaLawton). Harper Perennial. 304 pages. Out Feb. 23.
This is a candid, engrossing and important exploration into identity, family, race and how we understand the formation and evolution of our selves throughout our lives.
By Elizabeth Miki Brina. Knopf. 304 pages. Out Feb. 23.
As the daughter of an Okinawan war bride and American soldier in Vietnam, Brina explores her cultural heritage, internalized racism and shame, forgiveness and identities in this brave and candid debut memoir.
Through interviews, speeches, personal recollections and essential lessons learned, feminist abolitionist and organizer Mariame Kaba speaks to the necessity of collective action, critical analysis, intentional evaluation and compassionate vulnerability in the fight for true liberation.
Edited by Dr. Francesca Granata. Bloomsbury Visual Arts. 208 pages. Out Feb. 25.
This is a groundbreaking anthology of fashion criticism collected from the last 200 years that includes historical essays from Oscar Wilde, journalism through the ‘70s and ‘80s, to the bloggers of today.
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