As I am based in Germany and can access books published in Germany, UK, and the US equally via my local bookshop these release dates might be a bit all over the place depending on where you are based.
Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah: The Sex Lives of African Women
Synopsis: “The Sex Lives of African Women uniquely amplifies individual women from across the African continent and its global diaspora, as they speak of their diverse experiences of sex, sexualities and relationships.
Many of the women who tell their stories in this collection recall the journeys they have travelled in order to own their own sexualities. They do this by grappling with experiences of child sexual abuse, resisting the religious edicts of their childhood, and by asserting their sexual power.
From finding queer community in Egypt to living a polyamorous life in Senegal to understanding the intersectionality of religion and pleasure in Cameroon to choosing to leave relationships that no longer serve them, these narratives are as individual and illuminating as the women who share them.”
Why I am excited: Published by Dialogue Books who have a wonderful list in general, this promises to be a widely fascinating book.
Becky Chambers: A Psalm for the Wild-Built
Synopsis: “It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools.
Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again.
Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.
One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.
But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They’re going to need to ask it a lot.
Becky Chambers’ new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?”
Why I am excited: I just love Becky Chambers. I have read all her other books and just enjoy the way her mind works, the way she thinks about society, community and relationships. The soft queer sci-fi of my heart.
Leah Johnson: Rise to the Sun
Synopsis: “Olivia is an expert at falling in love . . . and at being dumped. But after the fallout from her last breakup has left her an outcast at school and at home, she’s determined to turn over a new leaf. A crush-free weekend at Farmland Music and Arts Festival with her best friend is just what she needs to get her mind off the senior year that awaits her.
Toni is one week away from starting college, and it’s the last place she wants to be. Unsure about who she wants to become and still reeling in the wake of the loss of her musician-turned-roadie father, she’s heading back to the music festival that changed his life in hopes that following in his footsteps will help her find her own way forward.
When the two arrive at Farmland, the last thing they expect is to realize that they’ll need to join forces in order to get what they’re searching for out of the weekend. As they work together, the festival becomes so much more complicated than they bargained for, and Olivia and Toni will find that they need each other, and music, more than they ever could have imagined.”
Why I am excited: Leah Johnson’s debut novel You Should See Me In A Crown was the perfect balance of adorable queer romance and other stakes.
Fiston Mwanza Mujila: The River in the Belly (translated by J. Bret Maney)
Synopsis: “With The River in the Belly, award-winning Congolese author Fiston Mwanza Mujila seeks no less than to reinitiate the Congo River in the imaginary of European languages. Through his invention of the “solitude”—a short poetic form lending itself to searing observation and troubled humor, prone to unexpected tonal shifts and lyrical u-turns—the collection celebrates, caresses, and chastises Central Africa’s great river, the world’s second largest by discharge volume.
Drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as Soviet history, Congolese popular music, international jazz, and everyday life in European exile, Mwanza Mujila has fashioned a work that can speak to the extraordinary hopes and tragedies of post-independence Democratic Republic of the Congo while also mining the generative yet embattled subject position of the African diasporic writer in Europe longing for home.”
Why I am excited: I didn’t love Tram83 but I really appreciated its musicality and rhythm – something which could play out perfectly well in a poetry collection.
M Leona Godin: There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness
Synopsis: “From Homer to Helen Keller, from Dune to Stevie Wonder, from the invention of braille to the science of echolocation, M. Leona Godin explores the fascinating history of blindness, interweaving it with her own story of gradually losing her sight.
There Plant Eyes probes the ways in which blindness has shaped our ocularcentric culture, challenging deeply ingrained ideas about what it means to be “blind.” For millennia, blindness has been used to signify such things as thoughtlessness (“blind faith”), irrationality (“blind rage”), and unconsciousness (“blind evolution”). But at the same time, blind people have been othered as the recipients of special powers as compensation for lost sight (from the poetic gifts of John Milton to the heightened senses of the comic book hero Daredevil).
Godin–who began losing her vision at age ten–illuminates the often-surprising history of both the condition of blindness and the myths and ideas that have grown up around it over the course of generations. She combines an analysis of blindness in art and culture (from King Lear to Star Wars) with a study of the science of blindness and key developments in accessibility (the white cane, embossed printing, digital technology) to paint a vivid personal and cultural history.”
Why I am excited: I am here for all book on disability written by disabled people, but this sounds especially fascinating with this width and special foci.
Also this month:
- Sarvat Hasin: The Giant Dark
- Shelley Parker-Chan: She Who Became the Sun
- Jeanette Winterson: 12 Bytes
Darcie Little Badger: A Snake Falls to Earth
Synopsis: “Nina is a Lipan girl in our world. She’s always felt there was something more out there. She still believes in the old stories.
Oli is a cottonmouth kid, from the land of spirits and monsters. Like all cottonmouths, he’s been cast from home. He’s found a new one on the banks of the bottomless lake.
Nina and Oli have no idea the other exists. But a catastrophic event on Earth, and a strange sickness that befalls Oli’s best friend, will drive their worlds together in ways they haven’t been in centuries.
And there are some who will kill to keep them apart.”
Why I am excited: I just read Darcie Little Badger’s last novel Elatsoe and in a time where I had a problem to focus I could not put down this one. So I was incredibly happy to learn a new one will follow so soon.
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
Synopsis: “The great scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, once wrote about the Problem of race in America, and what he called “Double Consciousness,” a sensitivity that every African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois’s words all too well. Bearing the names of two formidable Black Americans—the revered choreographer Alvin Ailey and her great grandmother Pearl, the descendant of enslaved Georgians and tenant farmers—Ailey carries Du Bois’s Problem on her shoulders.
Ailey is reared in the north in the City but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by a hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women—her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries—that urge Ailey to succeed in their stead.
To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors—Indigenous, Black, and white—in the deep South. In doing so Ailey must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story—and the song—of America itself.”
Why I am excited: I have already read some glowing reviews. I have not yet read any other works by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers but after having read this synopsis and more about her, I also want to check out her poetry.
Carolina de Robertis: The President and the Frog
Synopsis: “At his modest home on the edge of town, the former president of an unnamed Latin American country receives a journalist in his famed gardens to discuss his legacy and the dire circumstances that threaten democracy around the globe. Once known as the Poorest President in the World, his reputation is the stuff of myth: a former guerilla who was jailed for inciting revolution before becoming the face of justice, human rights, and selflessness for his nation. Now, as he talks to the journalist, he wonders if he should reveal the strange secret of his imprisonment: while held in brutal solitary confinement, he survived, in part, by discussing revolution, the quest for dignity, and what it means to love a country, with the only creature who ever spoke back–a loud-mouth frog.
As engrossing as it is innovative, vivid, moving, and full of wit and humor, The President and the Frog explores the resilience of the human spirit and what is possible when danger looms. Ferrying us between a grim jail cell and the president’s lush gardens, the tale reaches beyond all borders and invites us to reimagine what it means to lead, to dare, and to dream.”
Why I am excited: de Robertis last novel Cantoras is one of my all-time favourites and so I knew I would pick up whatever she writes next.
Nina Mingya Powles: Small Bodies of Water
Synopsis: “Home is many people and places and languages, some separated by oceans.
Nina Mingya Powles first learned to swim in Borneo – where her mother was born and her grandfather studied freshwater fish. There, the local swimming pool became her first body of water. Through her life there have been others that have meant different things, but have still been, in their own way, home: from the wild coastline of New Zealand to a pond in northwest London.
This collection of essays explores the bodies of water that separate and connect us, as well as everything from migration, food, family, earthquakes and the ancient lunisolar calendar to butterflies. In lyrical, powerful prose, Small Bodies of Water weaves together personal memories, dreams and nature writing. It reflects on a girlhood spent growing up between two cultures, and explores what it means to belong.”
Why I am excited: I am always interested in nature writing and especially in everything concerning water, so this synopsis speaks to me.
Anthony Veasna: Afterparties
Synopsis: “Seamlessly transitioning between the absurd and the tenderhearted, balancing acerbic humor with sharp emotional depth, Afterparties offers an expansive portrait of the lives of Cambodian-Americans. As the children of refugees carve out radical new paths for themselves in California, they shoulder the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide and grapple with the complexities of race, sexuality, friendship, and family.
A high school badminton coach and failing grocery store owner tries to relive his glory days by beating a rising star teenage player. Two drunken brothers attend a wedding afterparty and hatch a plan to expose their shady uncle’s snubbing of the bride and groom. A queer love affair sparks between an older tech entrepreneur trying to launch a “safe space” app and a disillusioned young teacher obsessed with Moby-Dick. And in the sweeping final story, a nine-year-old child learns that his mother survived a racist school shooter.
The stories in Afterparties, “powered by So’s skill with the telling detail, are like beams of wry, affectionate light, falling from different directions on a complicated, struggling, beloved American community” (George Saunders).”
Why I am excited: Always intrigued by a good short story collection and the stories which are teased in the synopsis sound very good.
Also this month:
- Nawaaz Ahmed: Radiant Fugitives
- Da Shaun L. Harrison: Belly of The Beast
- Ayesha Harruna Attah: Zainab Takes New York
Radna Fabias: Habitus (translated by David Colmer)
Synopsis: “An explosive entry into the world of poetry from the most acclaimed debut poet ever in the Dutch language: Radna Fabias has arrived.
Subversive, visual, and bold, Curaçao-born Dutch Radna Fabias’ explosive debut collection Habitus marks the entry of a genre-altering poet. Habitus is a collection full of thrilling sensory images, lines in turn grim and enchanting which move from the Caribbean island of Curaçao to the immigrant experience of the Netherlands. Fabias’ intrepid masterpiece explores issues of racism, neo-colonialism, poverty, and sexism with a heartbreaking rhythm and endless nuance.
Broken into three parts (“View with coconut,” “Rib,” and “Demonstrable effort made”), Habitus explores the profound struggles of melancholic longing, womanhood, religion, and migration. This ambitious, powerful, and compassionate collection has emerged, cheering on ambiguity, fluidity, and a lyrical ego on a quest to find its home.”
Why I am excited: People whose opinion I trust have hyped this collection.
Lucia Osborne-Crowley: My Body Keeps Your Secret
Synopsis: “In her first full-length book, Lucia Osborne-Crowley, author of the acclaimed Mood Indigo essay I Choose Elena, writes about the secrets a body keeps, from gender identity, puberty and menstruation to sexual pleasure; to pregnancy or its absence; and to darker secrets of abuse, invasion or violation.
Through the voices of women, trans and non-binary people around the world, and her own deeply moving testimony, My Body Keeps Your Secrets tells the story of the young person’s body in 2021. Osborne-Crowley establishes her credentials as a key intersectional feminist thinker of a new generation with this widely researched and boldly argued work about reclaiming our bodies from shame. ”
Why I am excited: I Choose Elena was such a thoughtful essay and I’d love to continue following Osborne-Crowley’s exploration of these topics.
Yu Xiuhua: Moonlight Rests on My Left Palm: Poems and Essays (translated by Fiona Zse-Lorrain)
Synopsis: “Yu Xiuhua was born with cerebral palsy in Hengdian village, Hubei Province, in Central China. Unable to attend college, travel, or work the land with her parents, Yu remained home where she could help with housework. Eventually she was forced into an arranged marriage that became abusive. She divorced her husband and moved back in with her parents, taking her son with her.
In defiance of the stigma attached to her disability, her status as a divorced single mother, and as a peasant in rural China, Yu found her voice in poetry. Starting in the late ’90s, from her home, her writing became a vehicle with which to explore and share her reflections on homesickness, family and ancestry, the reality of disability in the context of a body’s urges and desires and the requirements of manual labor, in addition to the pacing and passing of time in a rural community beholden to the seasons, and the granular beauty and cruelty of nature as it infuses every moment in the pastoral landscape where she lives.”
Why I am excited: Another interesting voice, another interesting perspective. Interested to see how this also translates into poetry.
Casey Plett: A Dream of a Woman
Synopsis: “Her latest work, A Dream of a Woman, is her first book of short stories since her seminal 2014 collection A Safe Girl to Love. Centering transgender women seeking stable, adult lives, A Dream of a Woman finds quiet truths in prairie high-rises and New York warehouses, and in freezing Canadian winters and drizzly Oregon days.
In “Hazel and Christopher,” two childhood friends reconnect as adults after one of them has transitioned. In “Perfect Places,” a woman grapples with undesirability as she navigates fetish play with a man. In “Couldn’t Hear You Talk Anymore,” the narrator reflects on past trauma and what might have been as she recalls tender moments with another trans woman.
An ethereal meditation on partnership, sex, addiction, romance, groundedness, and love, the stories in A Dream of a Woman buzz with quiet intensity and the intimate complexities of being human.”
Why I am excited: Casey Plett writes formidable, messy, realistic stories. I just finished her 2014 collection and see forward to see how her stories might have evolved.
Ryka Aoki: Light from Uncommon Stars
Synopsis: “Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.
When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka’s ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She’s found her final candidate.
But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn’t have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan’s kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul’s worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.
As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.”
Why I am excited: One of the comps for this one has been The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet – and that is all it needs for me to pique my interest.
Also this month:
- Colson Whitehead: Harlem Shuffle
- Michelle Millar Fisher, Amber Winick: Designing Motherhood: Things that Make and Break Our Births
- Evein Obulor: Schwarz wird großgeschrieben
- Surf durch undefiniertes Gelände: Internationale queere Dramatik
- JJ Bola: The Selfless Act of Breathing