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.
Through this column, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups.
The aims of the column 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!
You’ve seen the other “most anticipated books for 2022” lists, now read this one… you know, for the rest of us!
I have spent the last few months scouring catalogs and websites, receiving hundreds of books and even more emails from authors, publicists and publishers, reading your book Tweets and DMs, all to find out what books are coming out in 2022 that I think you, my exceptional, inquisitive and discerning Ms. readers, will want to hear about.
There are 101 books on this list and honestly, for each one I’ve included here, there are at least two (or 10) other great books coming out by women of color, queer and gender-diverse folx that I could’ve picked. It was near impossible to choose from among them, and that is so great! I’ve been a professional book jockey for 15+ years and I am encouraged to see more books each year that reflect the lives we actually lead. There’s always more work to be done and more to be written, but I’ve reason to be hopeful. So let’s get to it!
The fine print:
- You’ll notice the list is front-loaded because, well, we know about more books coming out in the next few months than those coming in the fall.
- Release dates are always subject to change, especially for books due to come out later in the year.
- I include nonfiction and academic titles because I know you are smart people who are always learning!
- I also include young adult (YA) books because they are often on the cutting edge in terms of character inclusion and candor about the realities of the world in which we live.
- I don’t include poetry (SORRY!) only because the list is already so long but watch for my poetry round-up coming in April.
- I am certain to have missed some fine new books or just decided not to include others. (That’s why it’s a damn good thing I give you a list of new releases every month so be sure to come back to check those out.)
TL;DR: Here’s your TBR for the year!
I hope you enjoy; I’m sure you’ll find plenty here that certain school districts will try banning in the near future.
Thanks for your continued support and I always love to hear about what you are reading and writing, so keep the emails, tweets and DMs a-coming!
Hard-hitting and necessary; read it if you haven’t already.
This is an ode to Black experts and their solutions to contemporary issues in the US. Consider it #RequiredReading.
Hill’s offered readers a moving narrative-in-verse ode to the innocence, wonder and complexities of Black girlhood.
This is the first book-length biography of the trailblazing activist, writer, suffragist and educator, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and it’s remarkably researched and written.
Part memoir, part history, part travelogue, this lush volume pays homage to the South, with its unique stories, multiple identities and imperfect evolutions.
By Zora Neale Hurston. Amistad. 464 pages. Out now.
I’m thankful for the first comprehensive collection of Zora Neale Hurston’s essays and articles, spanning 35 years, which illustrate the evolution of the time and the writer.
This debut about family secrets and journeys of the heart is getting rave reviews.
This is a truly invigorating and compelling story of a heroic healing journey to base camp at Mt. Everest.
By Kim Fu. Tin House Books. 220 pages. Out now.
This collection of kaleidoscopic speculative short stories will have you questioning reality and loving every minute of it.
A young girl’s difficult coming-of-age is lovingly presented in this layered and moving debut.
Now available is the complete collection of published short stories by a Moroccan feminist icon who boldly engaged with themes of feminism, sexuality and female embodiment while openly challenging patriarchal oppression and traditions.
Hopeful and powerful, this is an original novel in three parts, each centering a Black woman with albinism.
This is the compelling debut about an unexpected relationship between two girls across time, space and grief.
A Tobagonian woman, Drayton offers a unique and candid perspective of the racial stratification of the U.S. after years of chasing the dream.
This is a glittering and sumptuous feminist retelling of the classic Korean folktale “The Tale of Shim Cheong.”
Of this urgent first memoir about the “reeducation” camps by a Uyghur woman, the author confirms: “I have written what I lived. The atrocious reality.”
By Marquis Bey. Duke University Press. 304 pages. Out February 25.
In 2019, Bey’s debut collection Them Goon Rules changed me as a scholar, a feminist, an accomplice and a person; I can’t wait to see what this volume has in store.
This expert volume fills an urgent need for in-depth examinations of race, gender and health.
Not only does this resonant feminist debut challenge normative narratives of immigrant life, it also disrupts the notion of the Western novel in form and function.
It’s a memoir, it’s a guide, it’s a celebration of South Asian women.
Murch gives us an exceptional reexamination of the Black Panther Party and the Movement for Black Lives more generally through a redistributive, queer, and feminist framework.
By NoViolet Bulawayo. Viking. 416 pages. Out March 8.
Glory is a singular, surreal and satirical modern parable aimed at global social and political upheaval.
By Mamang Dai. Zubaan Books. 198 pages. Out March 8.
This is a groundbreaking collection of writings from women from Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India, many of which have been traditionally handed down orally.
The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet
Eco-activist @greengirlleah shares her important work on intersectional environmentalism in this slim and accessible volume.
Starred reviews abound for this story of two neurodivergent, nonbinary teens pulled into a magical lake world with a lesson to teach.
Laura Gao shares her story of being a queer, Wuhanese American daughter of immigrants in Texas… in the middle of the COVID pandemic.
Moore’s latest features a queer, poly, disabled woman journeys through NYC on her bike looking for the connections most of us lost during the pandemic. And it reads like a conversation with a friend.
I love this poetically punk debut memoir about ancestry, loss, colonialism, rebuilding, power, hope and healing.
This is an extraordinary debut collection centering the complex and diverse experiences of South Asian immigrants.
This graphic novel features a young heroine challenging tradition, patriarchy and imperialism in an expansive and fantastical world. Also watch for Shammas’ Where Black Stars Rise coming this fall.
To paraphrase the accurate subtitle, this is an original and visionary collection of Chinese science fiction and fantasy by women and nonbinary creators.
From the bestselling author comes this new historical romance saga set during the Mexican-American War. And in June, check out Somewhere We are Human: Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival, and New Beginnings, edited by Grande and Sonia Guiñansaca (@theSoniaG).
If you loved The Book of M as much as I did, you don’t want to miss Shepherd’s latest mysterious adventure of speculative brilliance.
By Eloghosa Osunde. Riverhead Books. 320 pages. Out March 15.
Set in Nigeria, this imaginative novel features a bounty of characters, queerness, fantasy and realism.
Bestselling author Marlon James says this debut Trinidadian love story “might just heal you.”
I will read anything that comes from JES’s twisted imagination and love it. This ingenious, insightful, unconventional and expansive eco-horror is no exception.
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.
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.
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 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.
Inspired by the author’s Filipino heritage and its folklore, this unflinching debut explores two outcasts whose lives overlap in death.
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.
Hua’s latest provides a unique perspective on China’s Cultural Revolution by centering a young revolutionary who becomes the confidant and lover of Mao Zedong.
Um, it’s Janelle Monáe’s queer, wildly liberatory, Afrofuturist dream on paper. So yes, I wanna read it!
When Angela Davis refers to a book as “a robust, decolonial challenge to carceral feminism,” I read it. And you should too.
This award-winning debut focuses on family secrets, motherhood, mental health and migration.
This reimagination of the life of the queen in the Indian epic the Ramayana makes for a rich and engrossing debut.
Vara has gifted us a disarming and engaging debut about a techno-capitalist climate-changed world run by corporations and the woman trying to save it.
Brilliantly filling a gap in lit from Myanmar, this debut essay collection covers feminism, race, tradition, colonization and more.
This is an essential collection of writings from one of the most important thinkers on abolition, geography and racism of our time. Also check out Change Everything: Racial Capitalism and the Case for Abolition, due out from Haymarket Books in October.
From the first Omani woman to have a novel translated into English, this remarkable novel centers the evolution of one woman’s agency, power and relationships.
If you haven’t read Nghi Vo in the past, I encourage you to start with her latest seductively speculative standalone. Be sure to also check out the Singing Hills Cycle, the third installment of which, Into the Riverlands, is due out in October.
By Putsata Reang. MCD. 400 pages. Out May 17.
In her heartfelt and evocative memoir, Reang grapples with familial relationships, displacement and historical legacies of trauma as a queer Cambodian refugee.
Bestselling author Robert Jones, Jr. calls this debut “a loud triumph that caresses like a whisper.” I can’t wait to give it a listen.
This is a moving debut centering the little-known experiences of Tibetan exiles, told through the lives of four people throughout 50 years.
Akwaeke Emezi is one of my favorite writers and this novel turns the typical love story on its head. Also check out Emezi’s latest YA novel, Bitter, out in February.
I’ve eagerly waited for this fantastic, feminist, epic sequel to The Gilded Ones!
This volume will change the way we think, talk about and work for (trans)gender policy and justice.
Border Bodies: Racialized Sexuality, Sexual Capital, and Violence in the Nineteenth-Century Borderlands
This important, nuanced volume shines a light on the importance of Mexicana, Nuevomexicana, Californiana, and Tejana women in the evolution of the U.S. (south)west.
In their essential debut collection of essays, Gutiérrez examines class, queerness, aesthetics, citizenship and borders.
Doing speculative and science fiction through a Métis framework, Chelsea Vowel challenges, entertains and becomes the voice of Indigenous futurism.
This collection of stories not only won the 2020 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing but also the 2021 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, so I am all in.
I’m super-excited to read this debut coming-of-age story about a Chicago woman grappling with notions of home, history and relationships in the face of injustice.
From a fresh new voice, this witty, touching memoir illuminates what it’s like to grow up Egyptian and Muslim in Australia.
This unforgettable epic Western saga spans five generations of an Indigenous Chicano family—their lives, loves, secrets, stories.
These sisters take healing into their own hands with this part-memoir, part-guidebook that’s focused on strategies of Indigenous knowledge, collectivism and reciprocity.
Bear witness to the dialogue between two of our most brilliant contemporary writers and activists as they grapple with creating a new way forward.
By Kendra Allen. Ecco. 208 pages. Out July 5.
As a fan of Allen’s previous writing, I am looking forward to reading her memoir of Black girlhood, family, rebellion and coming of age in the South.
Of this novel centering Black girlhood, Kiese Laymon has said: “I know I have just read and reread a new American classic that we as a culture and country desperately need.”
Contreras’ 2018 debut, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, was one of my favorites of the year, so I look forward to reading the memoir that R.O. Kwon calls “the work of a genius.”
This Island of Doctor Moreau retelling is set in 19th-century Mexico and written by the bestselling author of Mexican Gothic.
This groundbreaking analysis examines abolition based in Black and women of color feminisms, anti-violence organizing, survivor knowledge production, radical strategizing and more.
Available for the first time in English, this powerful novel centers a Tahitian girl trying to hold her family together in the face of the struggles wrought by colonialism.
While you are waiting for this one, you can catch up by reading the other spectacular volumes in the ReVisioning History series from Beacon Press (including A Black Women’s History, A Disability History, A Queer History, An Indigenous Peoples’ History, and more).
Written by a survivor, this is one of two sorely needed memoirs/investigations on this list about the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
This collection brings together Cooper’s major essays as well as previously unpublished poems, plays, correspondence and journalism.
This fantasy debut combines motherhood and monsterhood, queerness and cautionary tales.
This is the singular debut novel about a Mexican and Filipino American family along the coast of Texas said to be descended from the Karankawas, an extinct Texan tribe.
Giddings’s creepy debut Lakewood knocked my socks off, so I am in line for her next feminist dystopian thriller.
The Oleander Sword (The Burning Kingdoms, 2)
I love a good fantasy novel and I love a fantasy series even more. And this series is fantastic. Also check out Suri’s take on Wuthering Heights with What Souls Are Made Of (out July 5).
From the writer of the Poppy War trilogy comes a wholly unique new fantasy that explores language and translation in imperialism.
Kimberlé Crenshaw calls this “a critical race theory tour de force for understanding Latino anti-Black bias, from the most important Afro-Latina voice on civil rights today.”
If you haven’t read Lady Joker 1, the English-language debut of Japan’s masterful writer Kaoru Takamura, you have plenty of time before the sequel drops!
This is the essential memoir from the founder of the Disability Visibility Project.
From the author of Dominicana comes a new novel brilliantly illustrating the importance of telling one’s story.
I loved the These Violent Delights duet, so of course, I am ready for another thrilling crime fantasy extravaganza!
There’s the second memoir/investigation of missing and murdered Indigenous women on this list, from a Gitxsan journalist who experienced life on the streets and survived.
Edited by Sonja Eismann, Maya Schöningh and Ingo Schöningh. Drawn & Quarterly. 308 pages. Out in October.
I’m excited to see the outcome of an open call across 42 countries to spotlight feminist movements and advocacies for Indigenous rebellions in the Global South, a project with the Goethe-Institut Indonesien in Jakarta.
Thank goodness, Cash Blackbear is back! If you like a good mystery, this will be right up your alley.
And a sneak peek at what else is coming later this year…
- At Certain Points We Touch by Lauren John Joseph
- The Birdcatcher by Gayl Jones
- Black Skinhead by Brandi Collins-Dexter
- Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell
- River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan
- Devil’s Gun by Cat Rambo
- On the Rooftop by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
- Forgive Me Not By Jennifer Baker
- The Furrows by Namwali Serpell
- And will the Untitled Chelsea Manning Memoir finally be a thing we can read?? When I last checked, it was listed for release in October. Hope springs eternal!