March 27, 2021
As we close the month dedicated to women’s history several books stand out—fictionalized versions of great accomplishments by women, a psychologically suspenseful novel about usurping identity, plus a new and essential essay collection on the challenges of growing up female.
Buyer, Center for Fiction Bookstore
By Kaitlyn Greenidge
Published by Algonquin Books
In Greenidge’s new novel, she tears a fascinating page from African American history. Set in the 1870s, it is based upon the life of Susan Smith McKinney Steward, the first female Black doctor in New York State and the third in the U.S. Her daughter, Libertie, narrates not only a portrait of a complicated mother/daughter relationship, but an incisive exploration of what it must have been like to be a ‘first,’ and the meaning of ‘freedom’ beyond just not being enslaved. Terrific historical fiction, as well as simply great entertainment.
Who Is Maud Dixon?
By Alexandra Andrews
Published by Little, Brown and Company
A contemporary riff on The Talented Mr. Ripley, Andrews builds her gripping story around a pseudonymous novelist and Florence, an ambitious young publishing underling. An opportunity arises to accompany this secretive author to Morocco as her assistant and Florence soon finds herself in a position to perhaps acquire a new identity, and instant fame and fortune. Too tempting to resist? Just try to keep up with the clever plot twists as the author spins this creepy tale of identity in her first foray into fiction..
Of Women and Salt
By Gabriela Garcia
Published by Flatiron Books
Poet Garcia is interested in revolution—in both the 19th century and the 1950s—and the role of women in each. The settings include present-day Miami and a cigar factory in Cuba, both atmospheric and evocative. Garcia’s book has the feel of an epic but is packed into a concise ‘kaleidoscope,’ as the author describes her story. What is left unsaid in the book, and is open for interpretation, expands its affect on the reader as we move between generations of mothers, political displacement, and the fallout of fateful choices in times of upheaval.
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
By Dawnie Walton
Published by 37 Ink
The story of a fabled rock duo so convincing you will be searching the internet for their music. The first Black woman editor of a popular music magazine tells their oral history. Vivid descriptions of the 70s cult musicians, behind the scenes views of the volatile music business of the period, and the ugly events following a racist murder make this electric novel come thoroughly alive. And De’Shawn Charles Winslow, the 2019 winner of The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, introduced the author to her literary agent..
By Melissa Febos
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
Febos’s new book of personal essays follows the 2017 Abandon Me, highly lauded by critics and LAMBDA Literary. This time she delves even deeper into her own coming of age. I especially loved the writing in “Les Calanques,” and how she compares people to cicadas that shed their old bodies but never forget them. From her struggle with heroin, to her search for identity, Febos directs an unsparing eye on the pitfalls of being female, sending an urgent message to girls and women with passion and hard-worn wisdom.