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10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in September 2020

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine, still grieving the loss of her brother while she cares for her fragile mother and tries to make sense of her own life. “A book of blazing brilliance… Gyasi’s ability to interrogate medical and religious issues in the context of America’s fraught racial environment makes her one of the most enlightening novelists writing today.” (The Washington Post) Gyasi won the PEN/Hemingway Award and the American Book Award for her debut novel Homegoing
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The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein
The newest novel from the enigmatic Italian novelist is a coming of age story featuring Giovanna, whose father says she reminds him of her estranged aunt Vittoria every day. And he doesn’t mean it as a compliment. “What a relief it is when an author who has written a masterpiece returns to prove the gift intact… Here as in her past work, she captures the interior states of young people with an unflinching psychological honesty that is striking in its vividness and depth.” (The New York Times)
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Jack by Marilynne Robinson
Robinson continues her mid-century, midwestern saga following the novels GileadHome, and Lila. Jack Boughton, a troubled drifter and small time criminal is in love with upstanding schoolteacher Della Miles, but their doomed mixed-race courtship is scandalous and their marriage forbidden by law. “Myriad manifestations of pain are evoked, but here, too, are beauty, humor, mystery, and joy as Robinson holds us rapt with the exactitude of her perceptions and the exhilaration of her hymnal cadence, and so gracefully elucidates the complex sorrows and wonders of life and spirit.” (Booklist) Jack serves as a prequel to the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead but can be read as a standalone novel for the uninitiated. 
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The Awkward Black Man by Walter Mosley
Mosley is a beloved and acclaimed author whose honors include a PEN America Lifetime Achievement Award and a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award. His latest release offers seventeen portraits of Black men and their lives. “These first-person narratives present an array of men in varying circumstances facing racism, obstructed opportunities, and other terrors of modern life, including climate change, natural and manmade disasters, homelessness, urban violence, and failed relationships… Mosley's is an essential American voice and his portraits of Black men will have profound resonance.” (Booklist)
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What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez
The narrator of Nunez’s eighth novel is supporting a cancer-stricken friend when she is asked to help the friend end her life. “Spare and elegant and immediate… The novel is concerned with the biggest possible questions and confronts them so bluntly it is sometimes jarring: How should we live in the face of so much suffering? Dryly funny and deeply tender; draining and worth it.” (Kirkus Reviews) The author’s last novel, The Friend, won the 2018 National Book Award. 
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A Girl Is a Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi 
Kirabo is a smart, powerful young girl coming of age in 1970s Uganda. Raised by her grandparents and many women in her village, she is haunted by the absence of her mother as she tries to navigate the powerful feminine forces she senses inside her. “Luminous and sprawling… a magnificent blend of Ugandan folklore and more modern notions of feminism… this book is a jewel.” (Kirkus Reviews) Award-winning Ugandan writer Makumbi is also the author of Kintu (2017) and Let’s Tell This Story Properly (2019).
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The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim
26-year-old Margot Lee travels from Seattle to Los Angeles to check on her mother, only to find her dead—leaving Margot alone to uncover the traumatic details of her undocumented mother’s life. “Haunting and heartbreaking… With both sadness and beauty, she describes grief, regret, loss, and the feeling of being left behind.” (Booklist) A debut novel from an Oakland-based author.
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Bestiary by K-ming Chang
This queer, intergenerational, transnational fable steeped in Taiwanese heritage takes off when Daughter grows a tiger tail and discovers letters from her grandmother cached in holes in her backyard. “A visceral book that promises a major new literary voice.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar
The latest from a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and acclaimed novelist (American Dervish, 2012) draws on his personal experience as the son of Muslim Pakistani immigrants in the eras of 9/11 and Trump. "Over the course of eight chapters—some narrative, some nearly essaylike, all bookended by an "overture" and a "coda"—Akhtar explores family, politics, art, money, sex, religion, and prejudice in vivid, bracingly intelligent prose... A profound and provocative inquiry into an artist's complex American identity." (Kirkus Reviews
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Likes by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
Shun-lien Bynum is the author of the PEN/Faulkner Award finalist Ms. Hempel Chronicles (2008) and the National Book Award finalist Madeleine Is Sleeping (2004). Her newest is a story collection, including the title story that appeared in The New Yorker a few years ago (you can read it here). “The adjectives that readers often attach to Bynum’s work — “enchanting,” “charming,” “precise” — are accurate, but can give the impression that she specializes in dollhouse miniatures, masterfully crafted but bloodless. Her skills and her sensibility are deeper and darker than that… Bynum offers her reader inventively landscaped, beautifully manicured gardens teeming with rewardingly warty toads.” (The New York Times)
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Did you know that some of our Oakland Public Library branches have been offering sidewalk pickup service? If you've been missing print books, you can pick up holds for books, DVDs, CDs, and WiFi hotspots at our doors. More information can be found here

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in August 2020

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
This story begins as a mother finds the murdered body of her only child, Vivek, on her doorstep, prompting a series of flashbacks that reveal the details of Vivek’s life and death, his struggles with his identity and his family’s failures to understand him. A “searing examination of gender dissonance, sexual attraction, familial love, and loyalty… this achingly beautiful probe into the challenges of living fully as a nonbinary human being, is an illuminating read.” (Library Journal) Emezi has received awards, nominations and accolades for her first novel Freshwater (2017) and YA novel Pet (2019).
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Luster by Raven Leilani
Edie is an artist in her twenties with a day job at a New York publishing house. When she pursues an affair with a married white man, her life becomes enmeshed with his family in ways she would have never predicted. “An unstable ballet of race, sex, and power… Sharp, strange, propellant—and a whole lot of fun.” (Kirkus Reviews
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Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
An unlikely trio forms an unexpected family when widowed Miss Betty and her teenage son rent a room to a lodger, Mr. Chetan, a closeted teacher. “Beautifully written… The skilled treatment of the characters brings them to vivid life, as it does the richly realized Trinidadian setting. An award-winning short story writer, Persaud demonstrates her skill with longer fiction in this superb debut novel.” (Booklist)
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Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
Virgil Wounded Horse is a vigilante-for-hire, stepping in when the tribal council or the U.S. legal system fails to enforce justice. As the guardian of his nephew since his sister died, the local heroin problem is about to hit home. “Weiden combines funny, complex, and unforgettable characters with strong, poetic prose… This is crime fiction at its best.” (Publishers Weekly)
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Betty by Tiffany McDaniel
In this Appalachian coming of age story, Betty faces racism, poverty and violence as the daughter of a Cherokee father and a white mother and sister to seven siblings. Will she find the strength and resilience she’ll need to survive? “A sweeping and heart-wrenching exploration of how we understand our parents’ lives and how our children will one day understand our own.” (Booklist)
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Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-eun, translated by Lizzie Buehler
Yona is unhappily employed at Jungle, a South Korean travel company that specializes in visits to natural disaster sites, when her employer sends her on a visit to remote island Mui, site of an infamous sinkhole. “Spare but provacative… In Yona’s increasingly bizarre encounters, she learns just how severe the local environmental degradation is and the frightening extent of corporate greed. Yun cleverly combines absurdity with legitimate horror and mounting dread.” (Publishers Weekly)
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Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica, translated by Sarah Moses 
When a virus eliminates animals as a food source, humans turn to eating humans in this cannibalistic dystopia. Marcos is an employee of a plant that processes genetically-modified human meat, and that’s not his only problem. “It is a testament to Bazterrica's skill that such a bleak book can also be a page-turner. An unrelentingly dark and disquieting look at the way societies conform to committing atrocities.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Black Bottom Saints by Alice Randall
On the eve of his death, Joseph "Ziggy" Johnson (1913-1968), a real-life Detroit celebrity, dancer, emcee and gossip columnist, reflects on his life and his relationships with other personalities both famous and obscure. “The last testament of an African American showbiz insider is here rendered as an impassioned, richly detailed, and sometimes heartbreaking evocation of black culture in 20th century Detroit and beyond.” (Kirkus Reviews) Randall is best known for her novel The Wind Done Gone (2001), a retelling of Gone with the Wind.
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Aria by Nazanine Hozar   
Aria is abandoned as an infant, rescued by an army truck driver and raised by three different mothers in this novel that tells both the story of a young life and a country in tumult. “Making an impressive fiction debut, Hozar creates a vibrant, unsettling portrait of her native Iran from the 1950s to 1981, a period beset by poverty and oppression, chaos and revolution… An engrossing tale.” (Kirkus Reviews) 
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The Bitch by Pilar Quintana, translated by Lisa Dillman 
Damaris lives on a coastal Colombian bluff with her often absent fisherman husband. When she adopts a puppy, it awakens deep emotions of both love and pain as the dog eases her loneliness, reminds her of her struggles with infertility, and repeatedly disappears into the jungle. “A searing psychological portrait of a troubled woman contending with her instinct to nurture is at the heart of Colombian writer Quintana’s slim, potent English-language debut…  Quintana’s vivid novel about love, betrayal, and abandonment hits hard.” (Booklist)
If you’d like to read this on Overdrive, click here to recommend that we purchase it for the library.


Did you know that some of our Oakland Public Library branches have been offering sidewalk pickup service? If you've been missing print books, you can pick up holds for books, DVDs, CDs, and WiFi hotspots at our doors. More information can be found here


Kickoff to Summer Fun for Adults: 10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in June

The Summer Fun for Adults program starts this week. You can earn raffle tickets for reading and reviewing books, and by participating in other fun activities.  Prizes include a Chromebook, a free Annual BayWheels membership, boating on Lake Merritt and gift cards for groceries, gardening supplies, sporting goods, books, coffee and more.

To find out more visit this page, and to sign up go here.

Now for a little reading inspiration, here are the top 10 fiction books I’m looking forward to coming out this month.

The Vanishing Half
by Brit Bennett 
When identical twins Desiree and Stella leave their rural Southern hometown at age 16 their lives veer in separate directions, with one twin deciding to pass as white. Years later their reunion forces them to face the choices they’ve made and the secrets they’ve kept. “With an irresistible narrative voice, Bennett (The Mothers, 2016) writes an intergenerational epic of race and reinvention, love and inheritance, divisions made and crossed, binding trauma, and the ever-present past.” (Booklist)

Pizza Girl 
by Jean Kyoung Frazier 
In suburban Los Angeles, a pregnant, dysfunctional 18-year-old pizza delivery girl forms an intense friendship with a middle-aged mom who orders a pepperoni-and-pickle pizza. “Playful and unflinching… Frazier’s characters are raw and her dialogue startlingly observant… This infectious evocation of a young woman’s slackerdom will appeal to fans of Halle Butler and Ottessa Moshfegh, and will make it difficult not to root for the troubled and spirited pizza girl.” (Publishers Weekly)

A Burning 
by Megha Majumdar
A poor Muslim girl in India named Jivan is is accused of terrorism after making a consequential Facebook comment. Her future could be in the hands of two acquaintances, a former teacher and a neighbor who dreams of being a film star, but both may pursue their own fortunes at Jivan’s expense. “Majumdar expertly weaves the book’s various points of view and plotlines in ways that are both unexpected and inevitable. This is a memorable, impactful work.” (Publishers Weekly)

Exciting Times 
by Naoise Dolan
Ava is a young Irish expat in Hong Kong working as an English teacher. She’s having an affair, sort-of, with London-born Julian when she falls in love with Edith, a Hong Kong local. “This delightfully sardonic, insightful debut picks apart life at the whims of the economy, love, and self-sabotage… believable and piercingly written.” (Library Journal)

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre
by Max Brooks
Following the eruption of Mt. Ranier, the residents of a high-tech community in Washington State are cut off from civilization and must face down menacing Sasquatches in this terrifying and suspenseful tale told in the same style as the author’s zombie novel World War Z. “Piecing together the journal with interviews, transcripts, newspaper clippings, and historical documents, Brooks crafts a terrifying tale that reads like a "true" crime novel. Set in the very near future, with stellar worldbuilding, a claustrophobic atmosphere, an inclusive and fascinating cast of characters, and plenty of bloody action, this inventive story will keep readers' heart rates high.” (Library Journal

Death in Her Hands
by Ottessa Moshfegh
The note reads: “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.” When 72-year-old widow Vesta Gul finds this note, she decides she needs to solve the mystery despite the lack of a crime scene. “Whatever the opposite of Occam's razor is, Vesta's detective work is it… You simultaneously worry about Vesta and root for her, and Moshfegh's handling of her story is at once troubling and moving. An eerie and affecting satire of the detective novel.” (Kirkus Reviews) Moshfegh has intrigued and disturbed readers with books including Booker Prize finalist Eileen (2015) and My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018).

You Exist Too Much
by Zaina Arafat
A young queer Palestinian woman struggles with her mother’s disapproval and her own self-destructive impulses, a story that unfolds through vignettes set in North America and the Middle East. “Arafat writes movingly of being caught between identities, homelands, and obligation and desire. This difficult but heartfelt wonder delivers an emotional wallop.” (Publishers Weekly)

Thin Girls 
by Diana Clarke
Lily and Rose share the intense bond that twins often do. As they move through adolescence, both girls struggle with eating disorders, and their bond becomes more important than ever. “As gripping as a thriller, but it's Clarke's language that truly makes this novel special. She writes with a lyricism that not only encompasses the grotesque and the transcendent, but also sometimes commingles the two… Incisive social commentary rendered in artful, original, and powerfully affecting prose.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Mexican Gothic
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
In 1950s Mexico City, debutante Noemí Taboada receives a disturbing letter from her cousin Catalina, compelling her to visit Catalina at the crumbling and terrifying villa of her new spouse. “Moreno-Garcia’s energetic romp through the gothic genre (after Gods of Jade and Shadow) is delightfully bonkers… In a novel that owes a considerable debt to the nightmarish horror and ornate language of H.P. Lovecraft, the situations in which Noemí attempts to prevail get wilder and stranger with every chapter.” (Publishers Weekly)

Party of Two
by Jasmine Guillory
If you’re seeking something fun and sexy, look no further. This latest chapter in the rom-com series that started with The Wedding Date features Olivia Monroe, an attorney who’s just moved to LA to start her own law firm. She has no interest dating politicians but just spent the evening flirting with a cute guy she didn’t know is an up-and-coming senator. 

Place your holds on these paper books coming soon. Overdrive eBook versions of these books will be available later this summer.

What books have been a comfort to you recently? Are you looking forward to any books coming this summer? We'd love to hear in the comments.

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in March 2020

The Night Watchman
by Louise Erdrich
Multi-award winning author Erdrich continues her chronicles of Native American lives in North Dakota with a story inspired by the life and letters of her grandfather. Thomas Wazhashk is a Chippewa Council member and an activist fighting congressional efforts to rescind Native American land treaties; he works nights as a watchman at a local factory. Patrice, his niece, also works there. She’s the recent class valedictorian who rejects a future of marriage and kids and plans to save up for a move to Minneapolis. Erdrich “delivers a magisterial epic that brings her power of witness to every page. High drama, low comedy, ghost stories, mystical visions, family and tribal lore — wed to a surprising outbreak of enthusiasm for boxing matches — mix with political fervor and a terrifying undercurrent of predation and violence against women. For 450 pages, we are grateful to be allowed into this world.” (New York Times)

Fiebre Tropical
by Juliana Delgado Lopera
Francisca is a Columbian teenager recently immigrated to Florida with her mother, sister and grandmother in a coming of age/coming out story that’s unabashedly hilarious, affecting and liberally punctuated with Spanish. Francisca misses her old life, is disillusioned with Miami, and is forced to attend an evangelical church where she meets Carmen, the alluring pastor’s daughter. “Ebullient and assertive… You can open this novel anywhere and find sunbeams, the signs of a writer who is grinding their own colors.” (New York Times)

These Ghosts Are Family
by Maisy Card
In 1970’s London, Abel Paisley assumed a different identity and severed ties with his wife and family in Jamaica. As Stanford Solomon he moved to New York and started a new family. 35 years later he unleashes his secret and the focus shifts to his family members, intertwining their narratives with those of their ancestors. “This is a wonderfully ambitious novel: It sprawls in time from the uncertain present to the horror of slavery on a Jamaican plantation, examining racism, colorism, and infidelity and how they obscure and fracture a lineage… An intriguing debut with an inventive spin on the generational family saga.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Days of Distraction
by Alexandra Chang
The twenty-four-year-old narrator of Days of Distraction is fed up with her job at a Silicon Valley tech magazine, where she is the only woman of color. When she learns her boyfriend is moving to Ithaca, NY for graduate school, she sees it as an opportunity for a fresh start. As she moves across the country she finds herself delving deeper into her family history, exploring her identity, and observing life with an even keener eye. “Meditations on themes like racism, capitalism, the role of technology in our lives, and complicated family relationships are simultaneously uniquely insightful and accessible to anyone who has grappled with these issues themselves. Beautifully crafted and deeply thoughtful.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Sharks in the Time of Saviors
by Kawai Strong Washburn
A pivotal moment in the lives of the working class Filipino-Hawaiian Flores family happens on vacation in 1995, when seven-year-old Nainoa falls overboard a ship and is rescued and delivered back unharmed by a quiver of sharks—a legendary story that compounds when he discovers his power to heal others as a teen. Nainoa and his two siblings grow up and leave Hawaii to carve out their own lives until tragedy draws them back. “Lyrical and gritty…Their stories go in unexpected directions, from hilarious to heartbreaking. Striking style, memorable characters, and a believably miraculous premise add up to a beautifully crafted first novel.” (Kirkus Reviews)

That Hair
by Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida, translated by Eric M. B. Becker
Mila, the daughter of an Angolan mother and a Portuguese father, moves from her birthplace in in Luanda, Angola to Lisbon, Portugal at age three. Her curly hair becomes a symbol of her life story, cultural values, colonization and geopolitics in this semi-autobiographical novel. “Unforgettable… The book is a tight but kaleidoscopic view of an ongoing cultural conversation about identity, inherited trauma, and intersectionality.” (Publishers Weekly)

The Mountains Sing
by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
The history of the Trần family over four generations is set against the tumultuous background of Vietnam in the 20th century. Diệu Lan’s life of privilege as a young person fades as she persists through tragedy after tragedy, and she ultimately shares her story with her granddaughter Hương when she becomes her sole caregiver. “Widely published in Vietnamese, poet, nonfiction writer, and translator Nguyễn’s first novel in English balances the unrelenting devastation of war with redemptive moments of surprising humanity.” (Booklist)

Hurricane Season
by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes
In a small Mexican village, the murdered body of the local Witch is discovered by a group of kids. The Witch was a local legend, and her death prompts those who knew her to share legends and rumors about her, as well as their own dark secrets and desires. “Forceful, frenzied, violent, and uncompromising, Melchor’s depiction of a town ogling its own destruction is a powder keg that ignites on the first page and sustains its intense, explosive heat until its final sentence.” (Publishers Weekly)

Under the Rainbow
by Celia Laskey
Big Burr, Kansas has been called the most homophobic town in the US. When a non-profit organizes a queer task force to embed themselves in the community, who knows what will happen? “Under the Rainbow will ring true for a wide audience, regardless of gender expression and sexuality, for its wry humor and universal truths.” (Lambda Literary)

This Town Sleeps
by Dennis E. Staples
On an indigenous reservation in Minnesota, Marion Lafournier is a gay Ojibwe man in his twenties who enters into a secret affair with a closeted white man and former classmate. Meanwhile, the spirit of a dog connects him to legendary Ojibwe basketball star Kayden Kelliher, who was murdered at age 17, interconnecting the past with the present. “Staples’ first novel is an arresting look at the intersection of past and present… this is an auspicious debut with a memorable protagonist.” (Booklist)

Looking for more reading recommendations? Try our service for readers, Book Me! Fill out an online form and a librarian will send you a personalized list of reading suggestions.

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in February 2020


Everywhere You Don't Belong 
by Gabriel Bump
Teenaged, nerdy and gentle Claude McKay Love is being raised by his grandmother and her unlucky-in-love best friend Paul on Chicago's South Shore. Claude yearns for acceptance, connection and love, but finds himself seeking escape when violence erupts in his neighborhood. “Astute and touching… Bump balances his heavy subject matter with a healthy dose of humor, but the highlight is Claude, a complex, fully developed protagonist who anchors everything. Readers will be moved in following his path to young adulthood.” (Publishers Weekly)

Real Life
by Brandon Taylor
Wallace is an awkward, introverted biochemistry grad student at a midwestern university holding it together while struggling with his dad’s recent passing, losing weeks worth of lab work to contamination (which may be sabotage), and enduring frequent micro- and macroagressions he faces as a gay Black man in his surroundings. A burgeoning relationship with a friend who may or may not be gay becomes fraught with violence, evoking trauma past and present. “Taylor translates Wallace's thoughts and conversations with a rare fluidity and writes breathlessly physical scenes, all of which adds to the charged experience of reading his steadily exciting and affecting debut; it's an experience in itself. He works a needle through Wallace's knots of race, class, and love, stopping after loosening their loops and making hidden intricacies visible, before neatly untying them.” (Booklist)

Upright Women Wanted
by Sarah Gailey
In a near-future dystopian American West, librarians are trusted by the government to distribute approved literature to remote outposts. After her best friend and lover is executed for having unapproved literature, Esther decides to split town by stowing away in a librarian wagon caravan--only to discover that the librarians are queer insurrectionists serving the resistance. “A stirring story of resistance, but more importantly, it's an illustration of how personal transformation can be political transformation. Above all, it's a lively, exquisitely crafted, and unrelentingly fun gallop through Gailey's verdant imagination.” (NPR)

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line 
by Deepa Anappara
When a schoolmate disappears from their Delhi slum, 9-year-old Jai, inspired by his favorite TV shows, decides to investigate with the help of friends Pari and Faiz. “A debut novel by an Indian journalist tells a story full of humor, warmth, and heartbreak… Engaging characters, bright wit, and compelling storytelling make a tale that's bleak at its core and profoundly moving.” (Kirkus Reviews)

The Lost Book of Adana Moreau
by Michael Zapata
In 1929 New Orleans, celebrated author and Dominican immigrant Adana Moreau destroys the manuscript of her final work as her death looms. Decades later, Saul Drower tries to fulfill a goal of his late grandfather by returning a mysterious manuscript to Moreau’s son, the theoretical physicist Maxwell Moreau, taking Saul and his friend Javier to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans. “Smart and heart-piercing, Lost Book is a story of displacement, erasure, identity, mythology, and the ability of literature to simultaneously express and transcend our lives — not to mention reality.” (NPR)

by Yvonne Battle Felton
It is 1910, and as her son lies on his deathbed, Spring and the ghost of her late sister Tempe attend to him by recounting their family history. Their story starts with his grandmother Ella, a free girl who was stolen into slavery at 12 years old—a story of womanhood, motherhood, resilience and brutality. “Painful, vital truth resounds in this accomplished work of fiction.” (The Guardian) This debut was nominated for the Orange Prize when it was published in the UK last year.

The Mercies
by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
In the 17th century, a storm wipes out all of the men in a remote arctic Norwegian village, the women must carry on and fend for themselves. News of their independent feminine existence reaches other shores, bringing sadistic Scottish witch hunter Absalom Cornet to their village to root out heretics. Meanwhile Absolom's wife Ursa forms a bond and attraction with Maren, a village native. “The women—divided, watchful, unlettered, and bereaved—are prey, but they are not helpless. In clean, gripping sentences the author is wonderfully tuned to the ways and gestures of a seemingly taciturn people... This chilling tale of religious persecution is served up with a feminist bite.” (Kirkus Reviews)

The Resisters
by Gish Jen
In a future dystopian AutoAmerica, the haves are called the Netted and the have-nots are called the Surplus, and all are heavily surveilled. A once professional couple, now Surplus due to resistance activities, have a daughter Gwen blessed with a golden arm, prompting them to start an underground baseball league. Baseball might be a path back to Netted life for Gwen—if she wants it. “In this astutely realized and unnervingly possible depiction of a near-future world, Jen masterfully entwines shrewd mischief, knowing compassion, and profound social critique in a suspenseful tale encompassing baseball ardor, family love, newly insidious forms of racism and tyranny, and a wily and righteous resistance movement.” (Booklist) Jen's other books include Typical American (1991) and World and Town (2010). 

The Girl With the Louding Voice
by Abi Daré
Adunni is a 14-year-old Nigerian girl who longs to go to school. When her father sells her into marriage instead, she escapes to Lagos where she becomes an indentured servant to a wealthy family but still dreams of becoming a teacher. “Daré's arresting prose provides a window into the lives of Nigerians of all socioeconomic levels and shows readers the beauty and humor that may be found even in the midst of harrowing experiences. Although the problems and antagonists Adunni faces would challenge even capable adults, she defies almost everyone's expectations and not only survives but thrives.” (Booklist)

The Regrets
by Amy Bonnaffons
Rachel meets Thomas at a bus stop and feels an instant and intense attraction. Problem is, he’s dead. He’s been sent back to earth for 90 days following an administrative error, and although he’s not supposed to interact with the living Rachel and Thomas embark on an intense affair until he begins disappearing bit by bit. “Bonnaffons' (The Wrong Heaven, 2018) first full-length novel is a rare pleasure: a philosophical rom-com too weird, too bodily, too precise, too fun to get bogged down in trembling sentiment. Deep and deeply funny.” (Kirkus Reviews)

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in January 2020

Hitting a Straight Lick With a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance
by Zora Neale Hurston
The latest posthumous release from the revered author following Barracoon (2018) is a story collection that includes eight little-known stories recovered from archives and periodicals now available to a broad audience for the first time. “Throughout, Hurston draws insightful and humorous contrasts between southern and northern cultures, small-town and big-city life, and the ties and disconnects between country and urban folk. With biting wit, Hurston gets to the heart of the human condition, including racism, sexism, and classism.” (Booklist)

by Garth Greenwell
In the capital of Bulgaria, a queer expat American teacher you might know from Greenwell’s What Belongs to You (one of The New York Times’ Top Ten Books of 2016 and finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, James Tait Black Memorial Prize and a Lambda Literary Award) describes his sexual encounters in explicit detail in a series of linked stories. “Greenwell's writing on language, desire, and sex in all their complex choreography vibrates with intensity, reading like brainwaves and heartbeats as much as words. Concerned with intimacy, its performance, and the inevitability of becoming and being oneself, this is in every way an enriching, deepening follow-up.” (Booklist)

Little Gods
by Meng Jin
Following the death of her mother Su Lan, 17-year-old Liya returns to China—the country of her birth—in an effort to understand her mother’s past and find the father she has never met. “Artfully composed and emotionally searing, Jin's debut about lost girls, bottomless ambition, and the myriad ways family members can hurt and betray one another is gripping from beginning to end. This is a beautiful, intensely moving debut.” (Publishers Weekly)

Riot Baby
by Tochi Onyebuchi
Kev is born in 1992 Los Angeles during the riots that followed the acquittal of the cops who beat Rodney King. As a teenager he himself is the victim of police violence and is unjustly incarcerated. But both Kev and his sister Ella have special powers that may be the key to their hope and liberation. “Onyebuchi’s unexpectedly hopeful ending is just as powerful as his unflinching, heartbreaking depictions of racism and cruelty. This staggering story is political speculative fiction at its finest.” (Publishers Weekly)

The Seep
by Chana Porter
The Seep is a gentle alien invasion which brings a utopian serenity to the world, giving people a druggy sense of contentment and the ability to transform their existence. Trina Goldberg-Oneka is a fifty-year-old trans woman whose skepticism of the Seep shifts to grief and rage when her wife decides to restart her life as a baby. “This surreal debut takes on themes of utopia, identity, love, and loss, while readers are pulled into a full experience through Porter's fluid prose. This unusual story will linger long past the last page.” (Library Journal)

Run Me to Earth
by Paul Yoon
In war-torn 1969 Laos, Alisak, Prany and Noi are orphaned teenagers who join the operation of a field hospital led by dedicated doctor Vang. They become inseparable, riding motorcycles over the countryside dotted with unexploded land mines on daring missions for the doctor, but their ultimate rescue puts the three on separate paths. “Yoon masterfully weaves their divergent story lines, unveiling the different trajectories of their lives… This is a finely wrought tale about courage and endurance.” (Publishers Weekly) Yoon has received numerous awards including a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 award, recognition as a New York Times Notable Book and a Best Debut of the Year by National Public Radio for his debut Once the Shore (2009), and the Young Lions Fiction Award for Snow Hunters (2013).

Interior Chinatown
by Charles Yu
Willis Wu is an American-born actor of Taiwanese descent who is sick of generic Asian roles that require him to assume accented English. As he fantasizes about becoming a star, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish—is he playing a background role in real life or just on TV? “Conflates history, sociology, and ethnography with the timeless evils of racism, sexism, and elitism in a multigenerational epic that’s both rollicking entertainment and scathing commentary... As preposterous as many scenes may seem, their sobering reality will resonate with savvy readers.” (Booklist) Yu is the recipient of a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award and his novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (2010) was a New York Times Notable Book.

Night Theater
by Vikram Paralkar
After a long day at a rural clinic in India, a curmudgeonly doctor is approached by a young boy, his father, and his pregnant mother seeking treatment. The problem is, they’re already dead. “Within these enchanting passages is a haunting contemplation of life, death, the liminal space in between, and the dogged search for resurrection. Resurrection isn't reserved only for the dead, however. The surgeon, though he possesses a heartbeat and other signs of life, is trapped in a kind of purgatory himself… A beguiling and unforgettable fable.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Dear Edward
by Ann Napolitano
Twelve-year-old Eddie Adler is the only survivor of a plane crash that killed his parents and older brother. Sent to live with an aunt and uncle, Eddie struggles with his painful grief and a newfound status as a celebrity survivor, but he finds himself buoyed by friendship with the girl next door and the secret cache of letters they discover. Meanwhile, the story dips in and out of the lives of the other crash victims. “With its expert pacing and picture-perfect final page, Dear Edward is a wondrous read. It is a skillful and satisfying examination of not only what it means to survive, but of what it means to truly live.” (Booklist)


5 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in December 2019

December is sometimes a slow month for new releases, so our list this month is short but strong. Happy reading!

Such a Fun Age
by Kiley Reid
Emira Tucker is a 25-year-old Black woman who is torn between pursuing a more grown-up career and the part time babysitting job she loves. When Emira is the target of racial profiling at a high-end grocery store, her white employer Alix wants to come to her rescue, regardless of what Emira wants or needs. “In her debut novel, Reid illuminates difficult truths about race, society, and power with a fresh, light hand. We're all familiar with the phrases white privilege and race relations, but rarely has a book vivified these terms in such a lucid, absorbing, graceful, forceful, but unforced way.” (Library Journal)

by Jeffrey Colvin
The 20th century story of the Sebolt family starts in Africaville, a small community in Nova Scotia based on a real town that was established in the 1800s by formerly enslaved people from the United States and Caribbean. Kath Ella Sebolt leaves for Montreal in the 1930s, and as successive generations drift farther from home they face issues of racism, identity, and passing. “Africaville’s rich history will always draw them back, forcing them to confront and celebrate their heritage. Colvin depicts the heartbreaking neglect and ultimate destruction of Africaville by white Canadian governments while also dramatizing the resilience that enabled its residents to survive.” (Booklist)

The Story of a Goat
by Perumal Murugan, translated by N. Kalyan Raman
Murugan’s acclaimed novel One Part Woman (2018) won both a nomination for the 2018 National Book Award for Translated Literature and widespread controversy in India for casting a critical eye on his home culture. His latest work is part satire, part fable—the story of Poonachi, a malnourished rare black goat given to an old farming couple who nurses it back to health. “Anthropomorphic Poonachi lets readers into many of her thoughts and experiences, including a vibrant view of life under a government regime that banned black goats (which supposedly can't be seen in the dark) and oversaw long periods of famine and food rationing. Murugan explores the lively inner life of an observant goat in this imaginative exploration of rural life under the caste system.” (Publishers Weekly)

This Is Happiness
by Niall Williams
In 1958 rural Ireland, 17-year-old Noe Crowe is living with his grandparents in a small coastal village when he finds a companion in lodger Christy McMahon. Christy has come to the village for two purposes: to help install the village’s very first electrical utility and to seek forgiveness from the woman he left at the altar fifty years earlier. “Delighting in the eccentricities of speech, behavior, and attitude of the local characters, Williams spins a tale of life lessons and loves new and old… Warm and whimsical, sometimes sorrowful, but always expressed in curlicues of Irish lyricism, this charming book makes varied use of its electrical metaphor, not least to express the flickering pulse of humanity.” (Kirkus Reviews) William’s novel History of the Rain was nominated for the 2014 Man Booker Prize.

by Alexa Martin
Successful entrepreneur Brynn Sterling is the owner of HERS, a popular sports bar and home base for the wives and girlfriends of Denver Mustangs team members. Brynn’s not interested in the drama of dating a professional athlete, but shy guy Maxwell Lewis might force her to make an exception. “Martin continues her Playbook series, following Fumbled (2019) and scores again with this perfectly blended sporty-spicy/rom-com cocktail that’s so good, you could name a drink after it.” (Booklist) This book can be read as part of the series or on its own.

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10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in November 2019

Girl, Woman, Other
by Bernardine Evaristo
Last month Evaristo became the first Black woman to win the Booker Prize (sharing it with Margaret Atwood) for her novel that uses artful prose in an exploration of race, sexuality, gender, age and Black British womanhood through the interconnected lives of twelve women and femmes who take turns sharing the narrative spotlight. “The prose may be experimental, but the readerly pleasures of character and plot are very traditional. It is a life-enhancing, horizon-expanding novel: funny, inventive and fizzing with vitality.” (The Guardian)

On Swift Horses
by Shannon Pufahl
In 1956 San Diego, 21-year-old Muriel is indifferent to the suburban domestic life her husband Lee aspires to, finding satisfaction at the racetrack. Her brother-in-law Julius also finds refuge in the gambling world—in Vegas, where he falls hard for Henry, a card cheat who lures him away to Tijuana’s treacherous underworld. “Pufahl presents a vision of the 1950s that is distinctly at odds with the idea that this decade was an American golden age... More than that, though, Pufahl offers exquisite prose. Her style is slow and deliberate but also compelling because her language is so lyrical and specific… filled with such rhythmically lovely, splendidly evocative, and masterfully precise descriptions… Fiction to linger over.” (Kirkus Reviews)

The Revisioners
by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
As a child in 1855, Josephine escaped slavery and by 1925 she owned her own farm, but her family and fortune were jeopardized by her willingness to befriend a white neighbor. In a parallel story almost a century later, Josephine’s descendant Ava has lost her job and reluctantly moves into her white grandmother’s house with her son King. “It's rare for dual narratives to be equally compelling, and Sexton achieves this while illustrating the impact of slavery long after its formal end… Readers will engage fully in this compelling story of African American women who have power in a culture that attempts to dismantle it.” (Booklist) Sexton currently lives in Oakland and her debut novel, A Kind of Freedom (2017), was long-listed for the National Book Award, won the First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and was a New York Times Notable Book.

The Starless Sea
by Erin Morgenstern
Grad student Zachary Ezra Rawlins is baffled when he finds a story from his own childhood in a book from his university’s library, a discovery that leads him to a magical underground library. “A puzzlebox of a book, full of meta-narratives and small folkloric tales that will delight readers… Morgenstern (The Night Circus, 2011) uses poetic, honey-like prose to tell a story that plays with the very concept of what we expect and want from our stories; she also asks questions about accessibility, and what it truly means to guard something as precious as the library. She trusts her readers to follow along and speculate, wonder, and make leaps themselves as she dives into tales of pirates, book burnings, and men lost in time, giving the book a mythic quality that will stick with readers long after they put it down.” (Booklist)

The Book of Lost Saints
by Daniel José Older
Marisol Aragones was a casualty of the Cuban Revolution. Now decades later she haunts her nephew in New Jersey—visiting his dreams and prompting him to investigate long-held family secrets. “Vivid and emotional… Older’s descriptions of Cuba, both past and present, are thoroughly transportive. This moving story of family and freedom is sure to captivate readers.” (Publishers Weekly)

Big Familia
by Tomas Moniz
Local author Moniz (Rad Dad, 2011) offers a deeply relatable fiction debut featuring Juan Gutiérrez, a Berkeley single dad who is dating a great guy, has an amicable relationship with his ex-wife, and who is about to send his daughter off to college. His comfortable life veers into tumult as he faces challenges big and small. “A quiet, thoughtful story about coming-of-age at middle age... Diverse characters and a deeply likable protagonist make this a standout debut.” (Kirkus)

Mary Toft, Or, the Rabbit Queen
by Dexter Palmer
Inspired by a true story, in 1726 in a small town in England, a woman gives birth to a dead rabbit. As she continues to birth rabbits, it confounds and captivates the local surgeon and his apprentice, the most preeminent surgeons from London, and eventually draws the attention of King George. “Palmer evocatively depicts the dramatic changes witnessed during this period in race relations, industrialization, and the birth of the modern novel... Expertly utilizing an actual bizarre historical event to explore faith, reason, and the foundations of our current economic system, this exhaustively researched and dexterously constructed novel is another triumph to add to Palmer's incredibly diverse corpus of works.” (Booklist)

The Deep
by Rivers Solomon
Inspired by a song by hip-hop performers Clipping (featuring Oakland’s own Daveed Diggs), Solomon’s novella (following An Unkindness of Ghosts, 2017) imagines an underwater world populated with the descendants of African women thrown overboard from Atlantic slaver ships. Their traumatic past has been forgotten, except by the historian Yetu, who carries the burden of painful memories on behalf of the community. “Solomon's beautiful novella weaves together a moving and evocative narrative that imagines a future created from the scars of the past. Highly recommended for those interested in sf or fantasy that draws upon the legacies of colonialism and racism to imagine different, exciting types of futures.” (Booklist)

Get a Life, Chloe Brown
by Talia Hibbert
Chloe is a computer nerd and control freak who is sick of letting her chronic illness wreck her life. She creates and starts checking off a to-do list of tasks to turn things around, prompting repeated encounters with grumpy handyman and artist Red in this enemies-to-lovers interracial rom-com. “An incredibly funny, romantic, and uplifting book.” (Kirkus Reviews)

The Innocents
by Michael Crummey
In 1800s rural Newfoundland, Evered and Ada, ages 12 and 10, are orphaned and left totally alone when their parents and baby sister die from illness. Together they face the challenges of survival and the hazards of their isolated coastal home. “In his fifth novel, Crummey (Sweetland) imparts another heartfelt, extraordinary perspective on survival in the rugged isolation of his homeland… Crummey delivers profound insight into how individuals grapple with the forces of nature, not only in the unpredictable environment, but in the mystifying interior of their temperaments, drives, and character. This story of how two guileless youngsters navigate life will have a deep emotional impact on its readers.” (Publishers Weekly)

10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in October 2019


by Jeanette Winterson
Winterson—winner of numerous awards including a Whitbread Prize for Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985) and two Lambda Literary awards for Written on the Body (1992) and Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (2011)—ingeniously connects the 19th century story of Mary Shelley as she concocts her enduring novel Frankenstein with the present-day antics of transgender doctor Ry Shelley and his romantic interest Victor Stein, a scientist exploring AI, human consciousness, cryogenics and the singularity. “Magnificent… This vividly imagined and gorgeously constructed novel will have readers laughing out loud—and then pondering their personhood and mortality on the next page.” (Publishers Weekly)

Grand Union: Stories
by Zadie Smith
From an iconic and multi-award winning writer known for acclaimed novels such as White Teeth (2000) and On Beauty (2005), her first story collection features new works alongside pieces previously published in The New Yorker and The Paris Review. “Smith, an empathic and sardonic global writer, inhabits the psyches of radically different characters in varied settings as she orchestrates stealthily cutting dramas of generational and societal power struggles complicated by gender and race... Fury, heartbreak, and drollery collide in masterfully crafted prose.” (Booklist)

Find Me
by Andre Aciman
A sequel to Aciman's beloved novel Call Me by Your Name (2007) returns to its characters 20 years later: Oliver is a married professor with a family and Elio is a professional pianist with an enduring bond with his father Samuel. While the novel explores new relationships, a connection still looms between Oliver and Elio. “Core themes—including fatherhood, music, the nature of time and fate, the weight and promise of the past—are infused with eroticism, nostalgia and tenderness in fluid prose. The novel again demonstrates Aciman’s capacity to fuse the sensual and the cerebral in stories that touch the heart.” (Publishers Weekly)

It Would Be Night in Caracas
by Karina Sainz Borgo, translated by Elizabeth Bryer
A debut novel from a former Venezuelan journalist depicts the chaos, brutality and terror of a country under siege through the eyes of Adelaida, a woman experiencing the grief of losing her mother as she fights to survive day by day. The discovery of her neighbor’s dead body strangely becomes the first step toward her pursuit of a new life. “Sainz Borgo renders the psychological and emotional toll of government collapse with both nuance and authority, thrusting the reader into Adelaida's struggle for existence and the stark choices before her… A propulsively written, harrowing story, as desperate as it is timely.” (Kirkus Reviews)

A Tall History of Sugar
by Curdella Forbes
In the years right before Jamaica's independence from Britain, a childless fisherman’s wife finds and adopts an abandoned baby with extraordinary features: skin so translucent it appears blue, two different colored eyes, with white hair in front and black hair in back. He is treated as an outsider until he meets Arrienne, who becomes his friend and eventually his love as they come of age and find their way, she as an activist and he as an artist. “In some ways this book tells a story of a love too deep to become romantic. In other ways it's a novel of colonialism and its tragic aftermath of racism and economic despair… The characters so vivid, their depictions so intimate, that the skin of the pages themselves almost pulse beneath the reader's fingers. A powerful journey into the souls of two lovers, two countries, and the people caught in the wakes of empires.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Celestial Bodies
by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth
Winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, this novel sets an intergenerational story against the backdrop of complicated cultural change in Oman in the 20th century, told through the perspectives of multiple individuals and their intertwined families. “The narrative jumps among a large and clamorous cast of characters as well as back and forth in time, a technique that reinforces the sense of past and present overlapping… A richly layered, ambitious work that teems with human struggles and contradictions, providing fascinating insight into Omani history and society.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Your House Will Pay
by Steph Cha
Teenagers Shawn and Grace are connected by a tragic crime: in 1992 South Central Los Angeles, Grace’s shopkeeper mother Jung-Ja shoots and kills Shawn’s sister when she suspects the child of stealing. Almost 30 years later, Jung-Ja’s death in a drive-by shooting forces Shawn and Grace to confront painful memories. “A real-life racial incident is transfigured into a riveting thriller about two families' heartbreaking struggles to confront and transcend rage and loss… Cha's storytelling shows how fiction can delicately extract deeper revelations from daily headlines.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Homesick: Stories
by Nino Cipri
This collection of nine stories, recipient of the Dzanc Short Story Collection Prize, delves into speculative territory while centering queer, trans and nonbinary characters. “An organic and refreshing take on the paranormal… they'll all haunt readers long after the book is closed. A beautiful, sometimes haunting, always inviting and inclusive collection about life, love, and the paranormal.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Trinity Sight
by Jennifer Givhan
Anthropologist Calliope Santiago wakes from a mysterious car crash to find all other cars on the road have been abandoned. When she returns home, virtually everyone in the neighborhood has vanished including her husband and young son. Heavily pregnant with twins, she joins a ragtag party of the remaining to confront an alarming wasteland. “Poet Givhan blends Puebloan, Zuni, and Mexican American cultures in this searing postapocalyptic rumination on motherhood, genocide, and environmentalism… Poetry imbues every page with power and truth, and the intense plot is propelled by fully realized characters and a majestically primal setting.” (Library Journal)

by Beth Piatote
Nez Perce writer, scholar and UC Berkeley associate professor Beth Piatote offers a collection of stories set in the Pacific Northwest that explore Native American lives while drawing on politics, history and culture. “Piatote balances the emotional complexities of her characters' lives with the political complexity of their relationship with an America all too eager to look away. A poignant and challenging look at the way the past and present collide.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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10 Great Reasons to Read Fiction in September 2019

The Testaments
by Margaret Atwood
Find out what happened to Offred after the end of The Handmaid’s Tale. This sequel to Atwood’s iconic, influential, feminist dystopian classic novel revisits Gilead fifteen years later. "Dear Readers,” writes Atwood, “Everything you've ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we've been living in."

The Water Dancer
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Hiram Walker is born into slavery and loses his mother at a young age, but he has a mysterious gift that will save his life, enable his escape from the plantation, and empower him as he joins the underground war on slavery. “In prose that sings and imagination that soars, Coates further cements himself as one of this generation’s most important writers, tackling one of America’s oldest and darkest periods with grace and inventiveness. This is bold, dazzling, and not to be missed.” (Publishers Weekly) This is the first published novel from Coates, who won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction and other awards for Between the World and Me.

by Carolina de Robertis
In 1970s Uruguay under a vicious dictatorship, five queer women share a secret sanctuary in a small fishing village. “Bold and unapologetic, a challenge to the notion of “normalcy” and a tribute to the power of love, friendship and political resistance. It’s a revolutionary fable, ideal for this moment, offered with wisdom and care. De Robertis takes us inside a repressive regime during a time of global revolution and social discord much like our own.” (New York Times)

Red at the Bone
by Jacqueline Woodson
16-year-old Melody is the same age her mother was when she was born. As Melody celebrates the coming-of-age party her mother never had, a torrent of family memories is unleashed. “Beautifully imagined… Woodson’s nuanced voice evokes the complexities of race, class, religion, and sexuality in fluid prose and a series of telling details. This is a wise, powerful, and compassionate novel.” (Publishers Weekly)

The Shadow King
by Maaza Mengiste
In 1935 Ethiopia, Hirut is an orphan and a servant who becomes a warrior in the fight against Fascist Italy in a tale that unfolds from multiple points of view. “Mengiste breaks new ground in this evocative, mesmerizing account of the role of women during wartime—not just as caregivers, but as bold warriors defending their country.” (Publishers Weekly) Ethiopian-American writer Mengiste is the author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze (2010), finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and named as one of the 10 best contemporary African books by The Guardian.

Out of Darkness, Shining Light
by Petina Gappah
In 1873, upon the death of explorer and missionary Dr. David Livingstone, his African assistants carried his body on a 285-day journey to the coast so that his body could be taken back to England. This epic expedition is recounted in the words of Halima, a cook, and Jacob, a pious apprentice and translator. “A rollicking novel that retells the history of British colonial exploration in Africa from the perspective of historical figures who have otherwise been silenced… a rich, vivid, and addictive book filled with memorably drawn characters. This is a humane, riveting, epic novel that spotlights marginalized historical voices.” (Kirkus) Zimbabwean writer Gappah is the award-author of The Book of Memory (2016) and An Elegy for Easterly (2009).

A Song for a New Day
by Sarah Pinsker
Rock musician Luce Cannon was on the verge of superstardom when terror attacks and deadly viruses forced widespread retreat into a virtual world where public gatherings, including concerts, were banned. Rosemary Laws grew up in isolation but her new career—recruiting underground artists for virtual concerts—will bring the two women together. “A riveting and plausible look into what our world could be if we become consumed with fear and dependent on social media... a love letter to live music and underground shows, imagining futuristic musical innovations and the punk rebel scene that could emerge in response to a closed-off world. Pinsker tells her story through the eyes of two complex queer women who ground this fascinating, emotional narrative.” (Booklist)

by Angie Cruz
Ana Cancion is fifteen when her parents pressure her into marriage with 32-year-old Juan Ruiz, who takes her from the Dominican Republic to New York City. Amidst the 1960s—years that were turbulent in the U.S. as well as the D.R.—Ana discovers she has both a terrible husband and a ticket to a life of opportunity. “In this coming-to-America story, the harsh realities of immigration are laid bare, but equally clear are the resilience and resourcefulness of the people who choose to make a new life far from home… A moving, sad, and sometimes disarmingly funny take on migration and the forces that propel us into the world.” (Kirkus)

The Secrets We Kept
by Lara Prescott
In the 1950s, experienced agent Sally prepares Russian American Irina for their upcoming CIA duties. Their mission? Smuggle chapters of Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR and into the hands of an Italian publisher. Meanwhile, Sally falls for Irina. “Through lucid images and vibrant storytelling, Prescott creates an edgy postfeminist vision of the Cold War, encompassing Sputnik to glasnost, typing pool to gulag, for a smart, lively page-turner. This debut shines as spy story, publication thriller, and historical romance with a twist.” (Publishers Weekly)

by Anita Felicelli
Maya Ramesh is an Oakland-based Tamil-American lawyer who’s just lost her job and her family, and now a talking lemur is asking her for help. “A zany, often disjointed mashup of courtroom thriller, artistic discourse and magical realism run amok, with some wine-guzzling and relationship drama thrown in for good measure.” (San Francisco Chronicle) Bay Area writer Felicelli is the author of the award-winning story collection debut short story collection Love Songs for a Lost Continent (2018).