March 13, 2021
This week we celebrate Women’s History Month. Here are but a few of the new spring publications written by and about women, but for all readers. The subjects here—racial identity, fierce female poetry, family migrations, investigations into the darker side of love, and . . . chickens!—explore a multitude of views from the female gaze. Witness and appreciate.
Buyer, Center for Fiction Bookstore
What's Mine and Yours
By Naima Coster
Published by Grand Central Publishing
A terrifically engaging story of two strong-minded families and the circumstances that will resonate throughout their futures. Set in North Carolina, but traveling as far as Paris, a local initiative of integration triggers events that allow Coster to explore race and identity in the New South. The mothers of Gee, who’s Black, and Noelle, who’s biracial (Latina), have passionate opinions that have far reaching effects for their children and themselves. An excellent book for lively discussion. We have a limited number of signed copies!
Acts of Desperation
By Megan Nolan
Published by Little, Brown and Company
A portrait of amorous fixation that grabs you from the start and doesn’t let up. Our narrator’s object of obsession is a beautiful older man who draws her in at first sight in a Dublin gallery. Their story is one of the power of passion, both toxic and erotic, that proves Nolan’s impressive talent exploring the potential cruelty of romance, self-destruction, and the fragility of reckless youth. Just over 30, this Irish-born writer has a bright future ahead of her..
Black Girl, Call Home
By Jasmine Mans
Published by Berkley Books
This queer, Black poet grew up in Newark, New Jersey and attended the first performing arts high school there. She was fed spiritually by the words of Nikki Giovanni and Maya Angelou in her church-going youth. Mans is enormously impressive—check her out on YouTube and you’ll become an instant believer. She’s said that her first book is a reminder that Black and brown girls always have a place to return to—but her book has the power to speak to and inspire young women everywhere.
By Jackie Polzin
Published by Doubleday Books
Set in Minnesota, this slim yet powerful novel takes place over one year—fitting for us readers who now know what just one year can mean in a lifetime. The narrator has been caring for four chickens while at the same time dealing with a miscarriage, surrounded by her husband, mother, and best friend. This is one of those sly, wry books that sneak up on you and leave a big emotional impression, full of agony, ecstasy, and hope. You also acquire a lot of knowledge about poultry!.
The Arsonists' City
By Hala Alyan
Published by Houghton Mifflin
The title city is Beirut. The Nasr family members are scattered across the world, but, after the death of the patriarch, return to this city beset by war and struggle. In their attempts to save the familial home from being sold, complicated family dynamics come into play and reflect upon the political as well as the personal. Alyan, a Palestinian-American and trained clinical psychologist, translates her dexterity as a poet into prose with close attention to detail. She brings a curiosity to her characters with very moving storytelling.
By Patricia Engel
Published by Avid Reader Press
We begin with a great scene in a prison school for youth offenders in Bogotá where Talia, the daughter of a family torn between two countries, is planning an escape. Previously, after coming to the U.S. to find a better, safer life, her father was deported back to Colombia and she and her siblings and mother stayed behind. The story of a fractured, undocumented family and their wrenching allegiances is told with the haunting prose of a master novelist.
Watch Patricia, a dual citizen from Colombia, discuss her inspiration for her novel..