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 indie publishers and amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, queer, trans, nonbinary, 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!
As I write this, we are learning about the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
We are furious. We are heartbroken. We are not surprised. We are determined.
At times like this, it seems like anything other than the fight is extraneous. But as I’ve said in this column before, books (and music and art, etc.) provide us not only with necessary information but also with the respite we need from the constant labor of securing our rights and humanity in all the ways they are under attack.
I hope of the 33 books here, you’ll find one that inspires, relaxes or distracts you for a little while.
Let’s stand together and continue to fight.
Amanat is a brave, chilling and enlightening collection of 24 works by Kazah women writers. This is a groundbreaking volume of stories, conversations and women’s voices.
Playwright and musician Olivia Wenzel has written a debut novel as layered and melodic as any symphony or opera. Based on her own life, the story centers a Black German woman during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
By Anuradha Roy. HarperVia. 224 pages. Out July 5.
In this mythical epic, acclaimed writer Anuradha Roy presents themes of change and (d)evolution, love and community, and how we respond to uncertainty and precarity.
By Katherine J. Chen. Random House. 368 pages. Out July 5.
In this compelling novel, Katherine J. Chen presents her vision of Joan of Arc: one of courage, resilience, vulnerability and passion. This is a beautifully written novel that will have you thinking about this iconic woman in new and complex ways.
If you loved Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata will wow you again with her first collection of short stories to be translated from Japanese. In her signature strangeness, Murata writes 12 stories of relationships, humanity, ethics and individuality.
This is a remarkable debut collection of stories exploring Penobscot identity and community, hardship and survivance, roots and legacies.
In The Gen, an upscale community outside of Philadelphia for active women over 55 years old, three women are having the time of their lives until they aren’t. When memories come to the fore, secrets are exposed and all bets are off.
This sharp and compelling short story collection centers themes of isolation, memory, relationships, intimacy, anger and the complexities of living in the U.S. as a woman during the previous presidential administration.
Readers will adore this strikingly illustrated graphic ode to Black women, their relationships, their hair, their lives and their loves.
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.”
This essential anthology includes a wide array of essays from Catapult magazine, all focused on bodies. Writers such as Destiny O. Birdsong, Forsyth Harmon, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, s.e. smith and Kayla Whaley explore topics of race, gender, sex, disability, size, health, class and more.
Bestselling author Erika L. Sánchez has written this unique yet relatable memoir in essays that will have you crying from laughter and heartbreak. Keep the tissues nearby!
By Sharon Hoogstraten (Citizen Potawatomi Nation). Shikaakwa Press. 304 pages. Out July 12.
This stunning collection of over 150 portraits of modern Potawatomi citizens in their traditional regalia honors their history, spirit, legacies and survivance.
From the author of the acclaimed novel Bestiary comes this original, queer, hilarious and brave collection of stories centering the lives, loves, labors and longings of Asian American women.
Raqi was raised by her uncle Dodge and his bigoted motorcycle club until after her parents died. As an adult, Raqi must contend with her past, its haunts and hurts in order to heal. This is an outstanding adult debut.
By Chinelo Okparanta. Mariner Books. 320 pages. Out July 12.
Harry Sylvester Bird was raised by racist parents in a racist town in Pennsylvania. As soon as he could, he left for NYC and fell in love with a Nigerian woman. Over time, Harry is forced to reckon with his past in this wry, incisive examination of race in the U.S.
Veteran writer Francesca Lia Block is used to book banning threats like those happening of late, especially with her renowned Weetzie Bat series. Block’s latest book demonstrates she’s got more to say and I am here for it.
Thank goodness Dianna E. Anderson has written this essential exploration into non-binary identity, history and theory. Not only is it informative, but it’s personal, accessible and compassionate.
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.”
Riley writes historical fiction that is both well-researched and page-turning. Her latest is based on two real-life women and their crucial participation in the Haitian Revolution.
Murasaki Yamada (1948-2009) was one of the most acclaimed and groundbreaking women working in manga. Talk to my Back, serialized between 1981 and 1984, challenged domesticity, patriarchy and women’s roles in Japanese society.
If you haven’t read Rachel Howzell Hall yet, now’s the time. She’s a master of the twisty, suspenseful crime thriller. And she just keeps getting better.
This extraordinary collection celebrates the lives and works of groundbreaking artists who have challenged, reimagined and redefined “women’s” art.
This Island of Doctor Moreau retelling is set in 19th-century Mexico and written by the bestselling author of Mexican Gothic.
This is exactly what it sounds like: an actual workbook for white people to examine white supremacy and antiracism. It isn’t the only thing we can do to learn about and practice antiracism, but it’s one thing; so get to it!
By Kathleen E. Absolon (Minogiizhigokwe). Fernwood Publishing. 304 pages. Out July 19.
If you are a researcher in academia or the community, this volume is indispensable. Now in its second edition, Kaandossiwin explains Indigenous epistemologies, methods and more.
This collection includes original horror stories by historically excluded writers who center “the other” in some terrifying ways. Some of your favorite writers have contributed, such as Tananarive Due, Ann Dávila Cardinal, Larissa Glasser, Christina Sng, Alma Katsu and more.
Lesbian vampires? Yes, please! At boarding school? Check! Paranormal romance? It’s here! Relationship drama and themes of social justice? It’s all here! Youngblood is a fantastic summer read.
Oscar Hokeah’s debut novel centers young Ever as he explores his identity, family, community and place in the world. Told from a variety of voices, this story is one of love, loss, growth, tradition and evolution. Not to be missed.
Elaine Castillo has a big voice, one to reckon with. Whether it’s her acclaimed debut novel, America is Not the Heart, or this breathtaking collection of essays, Castillo is one to watch (and read).
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.
In this commanding memoir, Iranian-American journalist Pardis Mahdavi tells the story of her terrifying journey to find her two-year-old daughter, whom she feared had been kidnapped. Fierce and feminist, it reads like a manifesto illustrating women’s power to change the world.
Full confession: I’m at the point now where I will read anything Scarlett St. Clair writes. Full of fantasy, darkness, action and intrigue, this YA crossover offers an arresting start to another new St. Clair series.