Lists

50 Highly Anticipated Books 2022 (January-June)

No matter what 2022 will bring, there will be art, there will be books. And these are fifty of the books I am seeing forward to in the first half of the year! For monthly updates on new releases, follow me on Instagram where I share new publications in my stories (and save in a highlight over the year).

Jokha Alharthi (transl. by Marilyn Booth): Bitter Orange Tree

Zuhour, an Omani student at a British university, is caught between the past and the present. As she attempts to form friendships and assimilate in Britain, she can’t help but ruminate on the relationships that have been central to her life. Most prominent is her strong emotional bond with Bint Amir, a woman she always thought of as her grandmother, who passed away just after Zuhour left the Arabian Peninsula.

As the historical narrative of Bint Amir’s challenged circumstances unfurls in captivating fragments, so too does Zuhour’s isolated and unfulfilled present, one narrative segueing into another as time slips and dreams mingle with memories.

Samit Basu: The City Inside

Joey is a Reality Controller in near future Delhi. Her job is to supervise the multimedia multi-reality livestreams of Indi, one of South Asia’s fastest rising online celebrities—who also happens to be her college ex. Joey’s job gives her considerable culture-power, but she’s too caught up in day-to-day crisis-handling to see this, or to figure out what she wants from her life.

Rudra is a recluse estranged from his wealthy and powerful family who fled to an impoverished immigrant neighborhood where he loses himself in video games and his neighbors’ lives. When his father’s death pulls him back into his family’s orbit, an impulsive job offer from Joey becomes his only escape from the life he never wanted.

But no good deed goes unpunished. As Joey and Rudra become enmeshed in multiple conspiracies, their lives start to spin out of control, complicated by dysfunctional relationships, corporate loyalty, and the never-ending pressures of surveillance capitalism. When a bigger picture begins to unfold around them, they must each decide how to do the right thing in a shadowy world where simply maintaining the status quo feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately, resistance will not—cannot—take the same shape for these two very different people.

Blitz Bazawule: The Scent of Burnt Flowers

December 26, 1965, Alabama, the fateful night that triggers an avalanche of events that turn newly engaged couple, Melvin and Bernadette, into fugitives. A pitstop in the wrong part of town ends with blood on their hands, and Melvin decides they must flee the country in order to survive. Bernadette, who’s hiding a secret from her fiancé, reluctantly agrees. With a persistent F.B.I. agent on their trail, they travel to Ghana to seek the help of Melvin’s old college friend, who happens to be the country’s embattled president, Kwame Nkrumah.
 
The couple’s chance encounter with Ghana’s most beloved Highlife musician, Kwesi Kwayson, who’s on his way to perform for the president, sparks a journey full of suspense, lust, magic, and danger as Nkrumah’s regime crumbles around them. What was meant to be a fresh start quickly spirals into chaos. Kwesi and Bernadette’s undeniable attraction and otherwordly bond cascades during their three-day trek, and so does Melvin’s intense jealousy. All three must confront each other and their secrets, setting off a series of cataclysmic events.

Kobby Ben Ben: No One Dies Yet

The Year of Return, linked to the 400th anniversary of slaves landing in the US, memorialised the many who died during the slave trade in Ghana, particularly at Elmina Castle, while encouraging members of the African diaspora to visit.

As Black diasporans around the world make the pilgrimage to West Africa, three African-American friends join in the festivities to explore Ghana’s colonial past and its underground queer scene. They are thrust into the hands of two guides, Kobby and Nana, whose intentions aren’t clear, yet they are the narrators we have to trust. Kobby, a modern deviant according to Nana’s traditional and religious principles, offers a more upscale and privileged tour of Ghana and also becomes the friends’ link to Accra’s secret gay culture. Nana’s adherence to his pastor’s teachings against sin makes him hate Kobby enough to want to kill.

NoViolet Bulawayo: Glory

Glory centers around the unexpected fall of Old Horse, a long-serving leader of a fictional country, and the drama that follows for a rumbustious nation of animals on the path to true liberation. Inspired by the unexpected fall by coup, in November 2017, of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president of nearly four decades, Bulawayo’s bold, vividly imagined novel shows a country imploding, narrated by a chorus of animal voices who unveil the ruthlessness and cold strategy required to uphold the illusion of absolute power, and the imagination and bullet-proof optimism to overthrow it completely.

Yu Chen, Regina Kanyu Wang (eds.): The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories

In The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories, you can dine at a restaurant at the end of the universe, cultivate to immortality in the high mountains, watch roses perform Shakespeare, or arrive at the island of the gods on the backs of giant fish to ensure that the world can bloom.

Written, edited, and translated by a female and nonbinary team, these stories have never before been published in English and represent both the richly complicated past and the vivid future of Chinese science fiction and fantasy.  

Lydia Conklin: Rainbow Rainbow

In this delightful debut collection of prize-wining stories, queer, gender-nonconforming, and trans characters struggle to find love and forgiveness, despite their sometimes comic, sometimes tragic mistakes. In one story, a young lesbian tries to have a baby with her lover using an unprofessional sperm donor and a high-powered, rainbow-colored cocktail. In another, a fifth-grader explores gender identity by dressing as an ox—instead of a matriarch—for a class Oregon Trail reenactment. Meanwhile a nonbinary person on the eve of top surgery  dangerously  experiments with an open relationship during the height of the COVID crisis. With insight and compassion, debut author Lydia Conklin takes their readers to a meeting of a queer feminist book club and to a convention for trans teenagers, revealing both the dark and lovable sides of their characters. The stories in Rainbow Rainbow will make you laugh and wince, sometimes at the same time.

Danielle Daniel: Daughters of the Deer

In this haunting, groundbreaking, historical novel, Danielle Daniel imagines the lives of her ancestors in the Algonquin territories of the 1600s, a story inspired by her family link to a girl murdered near Trois-Rivières in the early days of French settlement.

Marie, an Algonquin woman of the Weskarini Deer Clan, lost her first husband and her children to an Iroquois raid. In the aftermath of another lethal attack, her chief begs her to remarry for the sake of the clan. Marie is a healer who honours the ways of her people, and Pierre, the green-eyed ex-soldier from France who wants her for his bride, is not the man she would choose. But her people are dwindling, wracked by white men’s diseases and nearly starving every winter as the game retreats away from the white settlements. If her chief believes such a marriage will cement their alliance with the French against the Iroquois and the British, she feels she has no choice. Though she does it reluctantly, and with some fear–Marie is trading the memory of the man she loved for a man she doesn’t understand at all, and whose devout Catholicism blinds him to the ways of her people.

Essie Dennis: Queer Body Power

As a young, queer, plus-size person, Essie Dennis has spent a lot of time feeling like they weren’t enough – not queer enough, not feminine enough, not perfect enough. When they took to social media to share how they felt, they were overwhelmed by how many others felt the same.

I look too masculine to be non-binary
I look too feminine to be a lesbian
Am I too fat for drag?

Inviting you to challenge accepted beauty standards and the concept of ‘the perfect body’, Essie takes everything they have learned on their journey to self-acceptance and body satisfaction to help guide you towards loving your queer body. From gender, sexuality and reclaiming your body, through to food, politics, social media and fatphobia, this radical book starts a conversation about body image and mental health that queer people are so often left out of.

Akwaeke Emezi: Content Warning: Everything

In their bold debut poetry collection, Akwaeke Emezi—award-winning author of Freshwater, PET, The Death of Vivek Oji, and Dear Senthuran—imagines a new depth of belonging. Crafted of both divine and earthly materials, these poems travel from home to homesickness, tracing desire to surrender and abuse to survival, while mapping out a chosen family that includes the son of god, mary auntie, and magdalene with the chestnut eyes. Written from a spiritfirst perspective and celebrating the essence of self that is impossible to drown, kill, or reduce, Content Warning: Everything distills the radiant power and epic grief of a mischievous and wanting young deity, embodied.

Emezi has also two other books coming out: Bitter and You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty.

Kali Fajardo-Anstine: Woman of Light

Luz “Little Light” Lopez, a tea leaf reader and laundress, is left to fend for herself after her older brother, Diego, a snake charmer and factory worker, is run out of town by a violent white mob. As Luz navigates 1930’s Denver on her own, she begins to have visions that transport her to her Indigenous homeland in the nearby Lost Territory. Luz recollects her ancestors’ origins, how her family flourished and how they were threatened. She bears witness to the sinister forces that have devastated her people and their homelands for generations. In the end, it is up to Luz to save her family stories from disappearing into oblivion.

Dipo Faloyin: Africa Is Not A Country: Breaking Stereotypes of Modern Africa

You already know these stereotypes. So often Africa is depicted simplistically as an arid red landscape of famines and safaris, uniquely plagued by poverty and strife.

In this funny and insightful book, Dipo Faloyin offers a much-needed corrective. He examines each country’s colonial heritage, and explores a wide range of subjects, from chronicling urban life in Lagos and the lively West African rivalry over who makes the best Jollof rice, to the story of democracy in seven dictatorships and the dangers of stereotypes in popular culture.

By turns intimate and political, Africa Is Not A Country brings the story of the continent towards reality, celebrating the energy and fabric of its different cultures and communities in a way that has never been done before.

Lori Fox: This Has Always Been A War: The Radicalization of a Working Class Queer 

Capitalism has infiltrated every aspect of our personal, social, economic, and sexual lives. By examining the politics of gender, environment, and sexuality, we can see the ways straight, cis, white, and especially male upper-class people control and subvert the other – queer, non-binary, BIPOC, and female bodies – in order to keep the working lower classes divided. Patriarchy and classism are forms of systemic violence which ensure that the main commodity of capitalism – a large, disposable, cheap, and ideally subjugated work force – is readily available. There is a lot wrong with the ways we live, work, and treat each other.

In essays that are both accessible and inspiring, Lori Fox examines their confrontations with the capitalist patriarchy through their experiences as a queer, non-binary, working-class farm hand, labourer, bartender, bush-worker, and road dog, exploring the ugly places where issues of gender, sexuality, class, and the environment intersect.

Ione Gamble: Poor Little Sick Girls

Ione Gamble never imagined that entering adulthood would mean hospital trips, medication choices, and throwing up in public. Diagnosed with an incurable illness two weeks after her nineteenth birthday, as the world became obsessed with Girlboss feminism, Ione came to grips with spending 20 hours a day in bed.

Watching identity politics become social media fodder, from the confines of her sickbed she began to pick apart our obsession with self-care, personal branding, productivity, and #LivingYourBestLife.

Using her experience with disability to cast a fresh gaze on the particularly peculiar cultural moment in which young women find themselves, Poor Little SickGirls explores the pressures faced – as well as the power of existing as – a chronically ill, overweight, and unacceptable woman in our current era of empowerment.

Ruth Wilson Gilmore: Abolition Geography: Essays Towards Liberation

Race, Space and Abolition brings together Gilmore’s essays, articles and interviews from over the past two decades. One of the foremost contemporary theorists and activists in movements for prison abolition and social justice, Gilmore presents a searing analysis of the origins of mass incarceration and racial violence. This collection reveals her to be a major theorist of the state, which she shows has today morphed into an ‘anti-state state’ organising the abandonment of racialised and exploited populations. Countering these new formations of power, Gilmore presents us with a powerful model for the radical articulation of scholarship and activism, and a novel way of asking ourselves the question: ‘What is to be done?’ Edited with an introduction by Brenna Bhandar and Alberto Toscano.     

Rachel E Gross: Vagina Obscura

The Latin term for the female genitalia, pudendum, means “parts for which you should be ashamed.” Until 1651, ovaries were called female testicles. The fallopian tubes are named for a man. Named, claimed, and shamed: Welcome to the story of the female body, as penned by men.

Today, a new generation of (mostly) women scientists is finally redrawing the map. With modern tools and fresh perspectives, they’re looking at the organs traditionally bound up in reproduction—the uterus, ovaries, vagina—and seeing within them a new biology of change and resilience. Through their eyes, journalist Rachel E. Gross takes readers on an anatomical odyssey to the center of this new world—a world where the uterus regrows itself, ovaries pump out fresh eggs, and the clitoris pulses beneath the surface like a shimmering pyramid of nerves. Full of wit and wonder, Vagina Obscura is a celebratory testament to how the landscape of knowledge can be rewritten to better serve everyone.

Also described as “a long overdue, necessary revisionist and transinclusive scientific voyage”.

Meron Hadero: A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times: Stories

Set across the U.S. and abroad, Meron Hadero’s stories feature immigrants, refugees, and those on the brink of dispossession, all struggling to begin again, all fighting to belong. Moving through diverse geographies and styles, this captivating collection follows characters on the journey toward home, which they dream of, create and redefine, lose and find and make their own. Beyond migration, these stories examine themes of race, gender, class, friendship and betrayal, the despair of loss and the enduring resilience of hope.

Winner of the 2021 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, “The Street Sweep” is about an enterprising young man on the verge of losing his home in Addis Ababa who pursues an improbable opportunity to turn his life around. Appearing in Best American Short Stories, “The Suitcase” follows a woman visiting her country of origin for the first time and finds that an ordinary object opens up an unexpected, complex bridge between worlds. Shortlisted for the 2019 Caine Prize, “The Wall” portrays the intergenerational friendship between two refugees living in Iowa who have connections to Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. A Best American Short Stories notable, “Mekonnen aka Mack aka Huey Freakin’ Newton” is a coming-of-age tale about an Ethiopian immigrant in Brooklyn encountering nuances of race in his new country.

Joseph Han: Nuclear Family

Things are looking up for Mr. and Mrs. Cho. Their dream of franchising their Korean plate lunch restaurants across Hawaiʻi seems within reach after a visit from Guy Fieri boosts the profile of Cho’s Delicatessen. Their daughter, Grace, is busy finishing her senior year of college and working for her parents, while her older brother, Jacob, just moved to Seoul to teach English. But when a viral video shows Jacob trying—and failing—to cross the Korean demilitarized zone, nothing can protect the family from suspicion and the restaurant from waning sales.

No one knows that Jacob has been possessed by the ghost of his lost grandfather, who feverishly wishes to cross the divide and find the family he left behind in the north. As Jacob is detained by the South Korean government, Mr. and Mrs. Cho fear their son won’t ever be able to return home, and Grace gets more and more stoned as she negotiates her family’s undoing. Struggling with what they don’t know about themselves and one another, the Chos must confront the separations that have endured in their family for decades.

Hawad: In the Net

In the face of amnesia, how does one exist? In this poem, Hawad speaks directly to Azawad, a silent figure whose name designates a portion of Tuareg lands divided among five nation-states created in the 1960s. This evanescent being, situated on the edge of the abyss and deprived of speech, space, and the right to exist, has reached such a stage of suffering, misery, and oppression that it acquiesces to the erasure implicit in the labels attached to it.

Through an avalanche of words, sounds, and gestures, Hawad attempts to free this creature from the net that ensnares it, to patch together a silhouette that is capable of standing up again, to transform pain into a breeding ground for resistance—a resistance requiring a return to the self, the imagination, and ways of thinking about the world differently. The road will be long.

Hawad uses poetry, “cartridges of old words, / a thousand and one misfires, botched, reloaded,” as a weapon of resistance.

Jessica Hernandez: Fresh Banana Leaves: Healing Indigenous Landscapes Through Indigenous Science

Despite the undeniable fact that Indigenous communities are among the most affected by climate devastation, Indigenous science is nowhere to be found in mainstream environmental policy or discourse. And while holistic land, water, and forest management practices born from millennia of Indigenous knowledge systems have much to teach all of us, Indigenous science has long been ignored, otherized, or perceived as “soft”–the product of a systematic, centuries-long campaign of racism, colonialism, extractive capitalism, and delegitimization.

Here, Jessica Hernandez–Maya Ch’orti’ and Zapotec environmental scientist and founder of environmental agency Piña Soul–introduces and contextualizes Indigenous environmental knowledge and proposes a vision of land stewardship that heals rather than displaces, that generates rather than destroys. She breaks down the failures of western-defined conservatism and shares alternatives, citing the restoration work of urban Indigenous people in Seattle; her family’s fight against ecoterrorism in Latin America; and holistic land management approaches of Indigenous groups across the continent.

Beatrice Hitchman: All of You Every Single One

Set in Vienna from 1910 to 1946, All of You Every Single One is an atmospheric, original, and deeply moving novel about family, freedom, and how true love might survive impossible odds. Julia Lindqvist, a woman unhappily married to a famous Swedish playwright, leaves her husband to begin a passionate affair with a female tailor named Eve. The pair run away together and settle in the more liberal haven of Vienna, where they fall in love, navigate the challenges of their newfound independence, and find community in the city’s Jewish quarter. But Julia’s yearning for a child throws their fragile happiness into chaos and threatens to destroy her life and the lives of those closest to her. Ada Bauer’s wealthy industrialist family have sent her to Dr. Freud in the hope that he can cure her mutism—and do so without a scandal. But help will soon come for Ada from an unexpected place, changing many lives irrevocably.

Lars Horn: Voice of the Fish

Lars Horn’s Voice of the Fish, the latest Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize winner, is an interwoven essay collection that explores the trans experience through themes of water, fish, and mythology, set against the backdrop of travels in Russia and a debilitating back injury that left Horn temporarily unable to speak. In Horn’s adept hands, the collection takes shape as a unified book: short vignettes about fish, reliquaries, and antiquities serve as interludes between longer essays, knitting together a sinuous, wave-like form that flows across the book.

Horn swims through a range of subjects, roving across marine history, theology, questions of the body and gender, sexuality, transmasculinity, and illness. From Horn’s upbringing with a mother who used them as a model in photos and art installations―memorably in a photography session in an ice bath with dead squid―to Horn’s travels before they were out as trans, these essays are linked by a desire to interrogate liminal physicalities. Horn reexamines the oft-presumed uniformity of bodily experience, breaking down the implied singularity of “the body” as cultural and scientific object. The essays instead privilege ways of seeing and being that resist binaries, ways that falter, fracture, mutate. A sui generis work of nonfiction, Voice of the Fish blends the aquatic, mystical, and physical to reach a place beyond them all.

Allegra Hyde: Eleutheria

Willa Marks has spent her whole life choosing hope. She chooses hope over her parents’ paranoid conspiracy theories, over her dead-end job, over the rising ocean levels. And when she meets Sylvia Gill, renowned Harvard professor, she feels she’s found the justification of that hope. Sylvia is the woman-in-black: the only person smart and sharp enough to compel the world to action. But when Sylvia betrays her, Willa fears she has lost hope forever.
 
And then she finds a book in Sylvia’s library: a guide to fighting climate change called Living the Solution. Inspired by its message and with nothing to lose, Willa flies to the island of Eleutheria in the Bahamas to join the author and his group of ecowarriors at Camp Hope. Upon arrival, things are not what she expected. The group’s leader, author Roy Adams, is missing, and the compound’s public launch is delayed. With time running out, Willa will stop at nothing to realize Camp Hope’s mission—but at what cost?

Michelle de Kretser: Scary Monsters

An affecting, suspenseful, and often witty novel, Scary Monsters is presented in two parts, which can be read in either order. The narrator of “Lili” is a young Australian woman whose family emigrated from Asia when she was a teenager. Having earned an honors degree in French, she is teaching in Montpellier in the early 1980s. As she makes friends and strives to be “A Bold Intelligent Woman,” Lili is also worrying about her creepy neighbor and observing the treatment meted out to North African immigrants.

“Lyle” is set in the near future in a radically right-wing Australia. The narrator works in a sinister government department, where he maintains a low profile and lives in fear of repatriation. At home, he is preoccupied by his ambitious wife, his wayward children, and his flamboyant elderly mother. Islam has been banned in the country, the air is smoke-filled due to a Permanent Fire Zone, and one pandemic has already run its course. Is there a monstrous link between Lili and Lyle’s stories? 

Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe: Red Paint: The Ancestral Autobiography of a Coast Salish Punk

Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe has always longed for a sense of home. When she was a child, her family moved around frequently, often staying in barely habitable church attics and trailers, dangerous places for young Sasha.
 
With little more to guide her than a passion for the thriving punk scene of the Pacific Northwest and a desire to live up to the responsibility of being the namesake of her beloved great-grandmother—a linguist who helped preserve her Indigenous language of Lushootseed—Sasha throws herself headlong into the world, determined to build a better future for herself and her people.
 
Set against a backdrop of the breathtaking beauty of Coast Salish ancestral land and imbued with the universal spirit of punk, Red Paint is ultimately a story of the ways we learn to find our true selves while fighting for our right to claim a place of our own.

Grace Lavery: Please Miss: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Penis

Grace Lavery is a reformed druggie, an unreformed omnisexual chaos Muppet, and 100 percent, all-natural, synthetic female hormone monster. As soon as she solves her “penis problem,” she begins receiving anonymous letters, seemingly sent by a cult of sinister clowns, and sets out on a magical mystery tour to find the source of these surreal missives. Misadventures abound: Grace performs in a David Lynch remake of Sunset Boulevard and is reprogrammed as a sixties femmebot; she writes a Juggalo Ghostbusters prequel and a socialist manifesto disguised as a porn parody of a quiz show. Or is it vice versa? As Grace fumbles toward a new trans identity, she tries on dozens of different voices, creating a coat of many colors.

With more dick jokes than a transsexual should be able to pull off, Please Miss gives us what we came for, then slaps us in the face and orders us to come again.

Kerri Maher: The Paris Bookseller

When bookish young American Sylvia Beach opens Shakespeare and Company on a quiet street in Paris in 1919, she has no idea that she and her new bookstore will change the course of literature itself.

Shakespeare and Company is more than a bookstore and lending library: Many of the most prominent writers of the Lost Generation, like Ernest Hemingway, consider it a second home. It’s where some of the most important literary friendships of the twentieth century are forged—none more so than the one between Irish writer James Joyce and Sylvia herself. When Joyce’s controversial novel Ulysses is banned, Beach takes a massive risk and publishes it under the auspices of Shakespeare and Company.

But the success and notoriety of publishing the most infamous and influential book of the century comes with steep costs. The future of her beloved store itself is threatened when Ulysses’ success brings other publishers to woo Joyce away. Her most cherished relationships are put to the test as Paris is plunged deeper into the Depression and many expatriate friends return to America. As she faces painful personal and financial crises, Sylvia—a woman who has made it her mission to honor the life-changing impact of books—must decide what Shakespeare and Company truly means to her.

Hannah McGregor: A Sentimental Education

Moving between memoir and theory, these essays consider the collective practices of feminist meaning-making in activities as varied as reading, critique, podcasting, and even mourning. In part this book is a memoir of one person’s education as a reader and a thinker, and in part it is an analysis of some of the genres and aesthetic modes that have been sites of feminist meaning-making: the sentimental, the personal, the banal, and the relatable. Above all, it is a meditation on what it means to care deeply and to know that caring is both necessary and utterly insufficient.

In the tradition of feminist autotheory, this collection works outward from the specificity of McGregor’s embodied experience – as a white settler, a fat femme, and a motherless daughter. In so doing, it invites readers to reconsider the culture, media, political structures, and lived experiences that inform how we move through the world separately and together.

Carley Moore: Panpocalypse

In pandemic-era NYC, Orpheus just manages to buy a bike before they sell out across the city. She takes to the streets looking for Eurydice, the first woman she fell in love with, who broke her heart. The city is largely closed, devoid of touch, connection, and community. But Orpheus hears mysterious news of an underground bar, Le Monacle, fashioned after the lesbian club of the same name in 1930s Paris. Can she find it? Will she ever be allowed to love again? Follow our lonely queer, disabled, poly hero in a new serialized novel about disease, decay, love, and revolution.

Sara Nović: True Biz

True biz? The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history final, and have doctors, politicians, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they’ll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who’s never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school’s golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the headmistress, who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both. As a series of crises both personal and political threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another–and changed forever.

This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, cochlear implants and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection. 

Okechukwu Nzelu: Here Again Now

Achike Okoro feels like his life is coming together at last. His top-floor flat in Peckham is as close to home as he can imagine and after years of hard work, he’s about to get his break as an actor. He’s even persuaded his father, Chibuike, to move in with him, grateful to offer the man who raised him as a single parent a home of his own.

Between filming trips, Achike is snatching a few days in London with Ekene, his best friend of twenty years, the person who makes him feel whole. Achike can put the terrible things that happened behind him at last; everything is going to be alright. Maybe even better.

But after a magical night, when Achike and Ekene come within a hair’s breadth of admitting their feelings for each other, a devastating event rips all three men apart. In the aftermath, it is Ekene and Chibuike who must try to rebuild. And although they have never truly understood each other, grief may bring them both the peace and happiness they’ve been searching for…

Okwiri Oduor: Things They Lost       

Ayosa is a wandering spirit—joyous, exuberant, filled to the brim with longing. Her only companions in her grandmother’s crumbling house are as lonely as Ayosa herself: the ghostly Fatumas, whose eyes are the size of bay windows, who teach her to dance and wail at the death news; the Jolly-Annas, cruel birds who cover their solitude with spiteful laughter; the milkman, who never greets Ayosa and whose milk tastes of mud; and Sindano, the kind owner of a café no one ever visits.

Unexpectedly, miraculously, one day Ayosa finds a friend. Yet she is always fixed on her beautiful mama, Nabumbo Promise: a mysterious and aloof photographer, she comes and goes as she pleases, with no apology or warning. Set at the intersection of the spirit world and the human one, Things They Lost is a stunning and unforgettable novel that unfurls the dizzying dualities of love, at its most intoxicating and all-encompassing.

Pola Oloixarac: Mona (translated by Adam Morris)

Mona is a Peruvian writer based on a Californian campus, open-eyed and sardonic, a connoisseur of marijuana and prescription pills. In the humanities she has discovered she is something of an anthropological curiosity – a female writer of colour treasured for the flourish of rarefied diversity that reflects so well upon her department.

When she is nominated for ‘the most important literary award in Europe’, Mona sees a chance to escape her sunlit substance abuse and erotic distraction, and leaves for a small village in Sweden. Now she is stuck in the company of her competitors, who arrive from Japan, France, Armenia, Iran and Colombia. The writers do what writers do: exchange flattery, nurse envy and private resentments, stab rivals in the back and go to bed together.

But all the while, Mona keeps stumbling across traces of violence on her body, the origins of which she can’t – or won’t – remember.

Diriye Osman: The Butterfly Jungle

Diriye Osman wrote on Twitter: “Featuring an all-queer British-Somali family navigating batshit-crazy shenanigans in Peckham, South London”.

Eloghosa Osundi: Vagabonds!

As in Nigeria, vagabonds are those whose existence is literally outlawed: the queer, the displaced, the footloose and rogue spirits. They are those who inhabit transient spaces, who make their paths and move invisibly, who embrace apparitions, old vengeances and alternative realities. Eloghosa Osunde’s brave, fiercely inventive novel traces a wild array of characters for whom life itself is a form of resistance: a driver for a debauched politician with the power to command life and death; a legendary fashion designer who gives birth to a grown daughter; a lesbian couple whose tender relationship sheds unexpected light on their experience with underground sex work; a wife and mother who attends a secret spiritual gathering that shifts her world; a transgender woman and the groundbreaking love of her mother. As their lives intertwine—in bustling markets and underground clubs, churches and hotel rooms—vagabonds are seized and challenged by spirits who command the city’s dark energy. Whether running from danger, meeting with secret lovers, finding their identities, or vanquishing their shadowselves, Osunde’s characters confront and support one another, before converging for the once-in-a-lifetime gathering that gives the book its unexpectedly joyous conclusion.                                            

Namrata Poddar: Border Less

Border Less is a novel that centers desert and coastal spaces, predominantly of Mumbai and greater Los Angeles, with layovers in the Thar Desert and African islands of the Indian Ocean. Divided in two sections, “Roots” and “Routes,” the book traces the migratory journey of Dia Mittal, an airline call center agent in Mumbai who is searching for a better life. As her search takes her to the United States, Dia’s checkered relationship with the American Dream dialogues with the experiences and perspectives of a global South Asian community across the class spectrum—call center agents, travel agents, immigrant maids, fashion designers, blue- and white-collar workers in the hospitality industry, junior and senior artists in Bollywood, hustling single mothers, academics, tourists in the Third World, refugees displaced by military superpowers, Marwari merchants and trade caravans of the Silk Road, among others. What connects the novel’s web of brown border-crossing characters is their quest for belonging and a negotiation of power struggles, mediated by race, class, caste, gender, religion, nationality, age, or place. With its fragmented form, staccato rhythm, repetition, and play with English language, Border Less questions the “mainstream” Western novel and its assumptions of good storytelling.

Yara Rodrigues Fowler: there are more things      

Born to a well-known political family in Olinda, Brazil, Catarina grows up in the shadow of her dead aunt, Laura. Melissa, a South London native, is brought up by her mum and a crew of rebellious grandmothers.

In January 2016, Melissa and Catarina meet for the first time, and, as political turmoil unfolds across Brazil and the UK, their friendship takes flight. Their story takes us across continents and generations – from the election of Lula to the London riots to the darkest years of Brazil’s military dictatorship.

there are more things builds on the unique voice of Yara’s debut to create a sweeping novel about history, revolution and love. In it we see sisterhood and queerness, and, perhaps, glimpse a better way to live.

Hugh Ryan: The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison      

The Women’s House of Detention, a landmark that ushered in the modern era of women’s imprisonment, is now largely forgotten. But when it stood in New York City’s Greenwich Village, from 1929 to 1974, it was a nexus for the tens of thousands of women, transgender men, and gender-nonconforming people who inhabited its crowded cells. Some of these inmates—Angela Davis, Andrea Dworkin, Afeni Shakur—were famous, but the vast majority were incarcerated for the crimes of being poor and improperly feminine. Today, approximately 40 percent of the people in women’s prisons identify as queer; in earlier decades, that percentage was almost certainly higher.

Historian Hugh Ryan explores the roots of this crisis of queer and trans incarceration, connecting misogyny, racism, state-sanctioned sexual violence, colonialism, sex work, and the failures of prison reform. And he reconstructs the little-known lives of hundreds of incarcerated New Yorkers, making a uniquely queer case for prison abolition in the process. From the lesbian communities forged through the House of D to the turbulent prison riots that presaged Stonewall, this is the story of one building and so much more—the people it caged, the neighborhood it changed, and the resistance it inspired.

Olive Senior: Hurricane Watch         

Hurricane Watch: New and Collected Poems brings together Jamaican Poet Laureate Olive Senior’s first four books of poetry alongside a new collection. Recipient of the Musgrave Gold Medal in 2005 from the Institute of Jamaica, Senior has long been recognised as a skilful and evocative storyteller but what this book shows is the consistency and range of her achievement.

Senior’s poems are delicate, formally playful and always finely observed, whether responding to Jamaican birdlife, the larger natural world or the traces of a complicated historical inheritance. Often, and always surprisingly, her poems’ brilliant descriptions and vivid, gripping narratives open out into ecological reflections, politics and culture in original, surprising and sensuous ways.                                                  

Warsan Shire: Bless The Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head

Mama, I made it / out of your home / alive, raised by / the voices / in my head.

With her first full-length poetry collection, Warsan Shire introduces us to a young girl, who, in the absence of a nurturing guide, makes her own way toward womanhood. Drawing from her own life, as well as pop culture and news headlines, Shire finds vivid, unique details in the experiences of refugees and immigrants, mothers and daughters, Black women and teenage girls. In Shire’s hands, lives spring into fullness. This is noisy life, full of music and weeping and surahs and sirens and birds. This is fragrant life, full of blood and perfume and shisha smoke and jasmine and incense. This is polychrome life, full of henna and moonlight and lipstick and turmeric and kohl. The long-awaited collection from one of our most exciting contemporary poets, this book is a blessing, an incantatory celebration of resilience and survival. Each reader will come away changed.

Vivek Shraya: People Change

Vivek Shraya knows this to be true: people change. We change our haircuts and our outfits and our minds. We change names, titles, labels. We attempt to blend in or to stand out. We outgrow relationships, we abandon dreams for new ones, we start fresh. We seize control of our stories. We make resolutions.
 
In fact, nobody knows this better than Vivek, who’s made a career of embracing many roles: artist, performer, musician, writer, model, teacher. In People Change, she reflects on the origins of this impulse, tracing it to childhood influences from Hinduism to What emerges is a meditation on change itself: why we fear it, why we’re drawn to it, what motivates us to change, and what traps us in place.
 
At a time when we’re especially contemplating who we want to be, this slim and stylish handbook is an essential companion—a guide to celebrating our many selves and the inspiration to discover who we’ll become next.

Tara M. Stringfellow: Memphis

In the summer of 1995, ten-year-old Joan, her mother, and her younger sister flee her father’s violence, seeking refuge at her mother’s ancestral home in Memphis. Half a century ago, Joan’s grandfather built this majestic house in the historic Black neighborhood of Douglass–only to be lynched days after becoming the first Black detective in Memphis. This wasn’t the first time violence altered the course of Joan’s family’s trajectory, and she knows it won’t be the last. Longing to become an artist, Joan pours her rage and grief into sketching portraits of the women of North Memphis–including their enigmatic neighbor Miss Dawn, who seems to know something about curses.

Unfolding over seventy years through a chorus of voices, Memphis weaves back and forth in time to show how the past and future are forever intertwined. It is only when Joan comes to see herself as a continuation of a long matrilineal tradition–and the women in her family as her guides to healing–that she understands that her life does not have to be defined by vengeance. That the sole weapon she needs is her paintbrush.

Morgan Thomas: Manywhere

The nine stories in Morgan Thomas’s shimmering debut collection witness Southern queer and genderqueer characters determined to find themselves reflected in the annals of history, whatever the cost. As Thomas’s subjects trace deceit and violence through Southern tall tales and their own pasts, their journeys reveal the porous boundaries of body, land, and history, and the sometimes ruthless awakenings of self-discovery.

A trans woman finds her independence with the purchase of a pregnancy bump; a young Virginian flees their relationship, choosing instead to immerse themself in the life of an intersex person from Colonial-era Jamestown. A writer tries to evade the murky and violent legacy of an ancestor who supposedly disappeared into a midwifery bag, and in the uncanny title story, a young trans person brings home a replacement daughter for their elderly father.

Winding between reinvention and remembrance, transition and transcendence, these origin stories resound across centuries. With warm, meticulous emotional intelligence, Morgan Thomas uncovers how the stories we borrow to understand ourselves in turn shape the people we become. Ushering in a new form of queer mythmaking, Manywhere introduces a storyteller of uncommon range and talent.

Sarah Tolmie: All the Horses of Iceland

Everyone knows of the horses of Iceland, wild, and small, and free, but few have heard their story. Sarah Tolmie’s All the Horses of Iceland weaves their mystical origin into a saga for the modern age. Filled with the magic and darkened whispers of a people on the cusp of major cultural change, All the Horses of Iceland tells the tale of a Norse trader, his travels through Central Asia, and the ghostly magic that followed him home to the land of fire, stone, and ice. His search for riches will take him from Helmgard, through Khazaria, to the steppes of Mongolia, where he will barter for horses and return with much, much more.

All the Horses of Iceland is a delve into the secret, imagined history of Iceland’s unusual horses, brought to life by an expert storyteller.

Jacinda Townsend: Mother Country

Saddled with student loans, medical debt, and the sudden news of her infertility after a major car accident, Shannon, an African American woman, follows her boyfriend to Morocco in search of relief. There, in the cobblestoned medina of Marrakech, she finds a toddler in a pink jacket whose face mirrors her own. With the help of her boyfriend and a bribed official, Shannon makes the fateful decision to adopt and raise the girl in Louisville, Kentucky. But the girl already has a mother: Souria, an undocumented Mauritanian woman who was trafficked as a teen, and who managed to escape to Morocco to build another life.
 
In rendering Souria’s separation from her family across vast stretches of desert and Shannon’s alienation from her mother under the same roof, Jacinda Townsend brilliantly stages cycles of intergenerational trauma and healing. Linked by the girl who has been a daughter to them both, these unforgettable protagonists move toward their inevitable reckoning. Mother Country is a bone-deep and unsparing portrayal of the ethical and emotional claims we make upon one another in the name of survival, in the name of love.

Vauhini Vara: The Immortal King Rao

Athena Rao must reckon with the memory of her father, King Rao—literally. Through biotechnological innovation, he has given her his memories. His Dalit childhood on an Indian coconut plantation in the 1950s is as alive to her as her own existence in a prison cell, accused of her father’s murder.

Egocentric, brilliant, a little damaged, King Rao had a visionary idea: the personal computer known as the Coconut. His wife, Margie, was an artist with a marketing genius. Together they created a new world order, led by a corporate-run government. Athena’s future is now in the hands of its Shareholders—unless she can rejoin the Exes, a resistance group sustaining tech-free lifestyles on low-lying islands.

Lyrical, satirical, and profound, The Immortal King Rao obliterates genre to confront the digital age. This gripping, brilliant debut poses an urgent question: can anyone—peasant laborers, convention-destroying entrepreneurs, radical anarchists, social-media followers—ever get free?

Silvia Vasquez-Lavado: In The Shadow Of The Mountain

Endless ice. Thin air. The threat of dropping into nothingness thousands of feet below. This is the climb Silvia Vasquez-Lavado braves in her page-turning, pulse-raising memoir following her journey to Mount Everest.

A Latina hero in the elite macho tech world of Silicon Valley, privately, she was hanging by a thread. Deep in the throes of alcoholism, hiding her sexuality from her family, and repressing the abuse she’d suffered as a child, she started climbing. Something about the brute force required for the ascent— the risk and spirit and sheer size of the mountains and death’s close proximity—woke her up. She then took her biggest pain as a survivor to the biggest mountain: Everest.

“The Mother of the World,” as it’s known in Nepal, allows few to reach her summit, but Silvia didn’t go alone. She gathered a group of young female survivors and led them to base camp alongside her. It was never easy. At times hair-raising, nerve-racking, and always challenging, Silvia remembers the acute anxiety of leading a group of novice climbers to Everest’s base, all the while coping with her own nerves of summiting. But, there were also moments of peace, joy, and healing with the strength of her fellow survivors and community propelling her forward.

Chelsea Vowel: Buffalo Is the New Buffalo

“Education is the new buffalo” is a metaphor widely used among Indigenous peoples in Canada to signify the importance of education to their survival and ability to support themselves, as once Plains nations supported themselves as buffalo peoples. The assumption is that many of the pre-Contact ways of living are forever gone, so adaptation is necessary. But Chelsea Vowel asks, “Instead of accepting that the buffalo, and our ancestral ways, will never come back, what if we simply ensure that they do?”

Inspired by classic and contemporary speculative fiction, Buffalo Is the New Buffalo explores science fiction tropes through a Metis lens: a Two-Spirit rougarou (shapeshifter) in the nineteenth century tries to solve a murder in her community and joins the nehiyaw-pwat (Iron Confederacy) in order to successfully stop Canadian colonial expansion into the West. A Metis man is gored by a radioactive bison, gaining super strength, but losing the ability to be remembered by anyone not related to him by blood. Nanites babble to babies in Cree, virtual reality teaches transformation, foxes take human form and wreak havoc on hearts, buffalo roam free, and beings grapple with the thorny problem of healing from colonialism.

Indigenous futurisms seek to discover the impact of colonization, remove its psychological baggage, and recover ancestral traditions. These eight short stories of “Metis futurism” explore Indigenous existence and resistance through the specific lens of being Metis. Expansive and eye-opening, Buffalo Is the New Buffalo rewrites our shared history in provocative and exciting ways.

Pyae Moe Thet War: You’ve Changed: Fake Accents, Feminism, and Other Comedies from Myanmar

What does it mean to be a Myanmar person—a baker, swimmer, writer and woman—on your own terms rather than those of the colonizer? These irreverent yet vulnerable essays ask that question by tracing the journey of a woman who spent her young adulthood in the US and UK before returning to her hometown of Yangon, where she still lives.
 
In You’ve Changed, Pyae takes on romantic relationships whose futures are determined by different passports, switching in American taxis, the patriarchal Myanmar concept of hpone which governs how laundry is done, swimming as refuge from mental illness, pleasure and shame around eating rice, and baking in a kitchen far from white America’s imagination.
 
Throughout, she wrestles with the question of who she is—a Myanmar woman in the West, a Western-educated person in Yangon, a writer who refuses to be labeled a “race writer.” With intimate and funny prose, Pyae shows how the truth of identity may be found not in stability, but in its gloriously unsettled nature.

Natalie Wee: Beast at Every Threshold

An unflinching shapeshifter, Beast at Every Threshold dances between familial hauntings and cultural histories, intimate hungers and broader griefs. Memories become malleable, pop culture provides a backdrop to glittery queer love, and folklore speaks back as a radical tool of survival. With unapologetic precision, Natalie Wee unravels constructs of “otherness” and names language our most familiar weapon, illuminating the intersections of queerness, diaspora, and loss with obsessive, inexhaustible ferocity – and in resurrecting the self rendered a site of violence, makes visible the “Beast at Every Threshold. “

Beguiling and deeply imagined, Wee’s poems explore thresholds of marginality, queerness, immigration, nationhood, and reinvention of the self through myth.

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