Not That Bad
The brilliant writer and feminist icon Roxane Gay brings together a wide-ranging group of writers—from Lyz Lenz and xTx to Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union—to grapple with rape culture in all its horrifying depth. From stories of assault to the survival that follows it, these essays deal forthrightly and courageously with the pain, the anger, the confusion, the gaslighting, the self-doubt, and the connections that can arise from the support of other victims. Not That Bad is an absolutely critical exploration of our most troubling cultural paradigm, and it shows that such a book isn’t timely now, but has been timely forever.
The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories
A wondrous trip through some of Japan’s best fiction writers, The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories features some well-known names like editor Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto but also offers a large sampling of others who haven’t gotten the attention they deserve. Edited by noted translator Jay Rubin, this anthology was created not for college courses but for the general reader, and the sheer pleasure of the narratives within confirm the success of the project. A fantastic glimpse into a rich source of literary art.
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thahn Nyugen (The Sympathizer and The Refugees) unites 17 writers, all refugees, from all over the world to tell their stories of displacement. Featuring some of the most acclaimed writers working right now (like Aleksandr Hemon and Fatima Bhutto and Porochista Khakpour) recounting tales of fleeing horrific persecution, escaping poverty, and facing prejudice in their new lands. As the refugee crisis mounts across the planet (there are now 68.5 million people seeking safety from conflict and danger), and as nations like the US and the UK grow more and more anti-immigration, The Displaced shines a light on a woefully unacknowledged and tragically uprooted population of humanity.
The lame argument that somehow YA literature is lesser than so-called adult literature is mostly defunct these days, but just in case there are still naysayers out there, may we present to you Fresh Ink, a collection of stories from twelve bestselling YA authors, presented in collaboration with We Need Diverse Books. In the book’s Foreword, editor Lamar Giles writes, “I hope you find [a hero] who looks like you, or thinks like you, or feels like you.” A brilliant multiplicity of genres and styles, Fresh Ink aims to broaden the range of representation in books for young readers, and do so with uninhibited exuberance, unmitigated talent, and generous love.
Can We All Be Feminists?
In 1989, civil rights advocate and legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality,” which “encouraged us to think about the ways racial and gender discrimination overlap. “Intersectionality,” as editor June Eric-Udorie succinctly puts it, “offers us a way to understand how multiple structures—capitalism, heterosexism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and so on—work together to harm women.” Can We All Be Feminists? takes a critical look at the complexities of feminist thought: the way it often excludes people of color, LBGTQ, and non-able-bodied persons, and how by doing so holds up the powers it claims to dismantle. A challenging and thought-provoking anthology, Can We All Be Feminists? asks the hard questions and seeks a better way forward.
Kingdom of Olives and Ash
Michael Chabon, Ayelet Waldman
For fifty years Israel has occupied the territories of the West Bank and Gaza, creating in its wake a devastating injustices. Literary power couple Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman bring together an all-star cast of writers (Geraldine Brooks, Hari Kunzru, Rachel Kushner, Jacqueline Woodson, and Dave Eggers among them) to tackle the Israeli occupation with nuance, intelligence, and compassion. Each of the writers in this volume traveled to Palestine-Israel, where “they spent most of their time in the occupied territories.” The resulting dispatches make up Kingdom of Olives and Ashes, a remarkable and groundbreaking investigation into the human cost of this half-century-long conflict.
These days, it’s hard to imagine a functioning White House where democracy thrives, reason abounds, and, oh I don’t know, aides don’t hide documents from the president. But there was a time—not so very long ago, though it seems now like ages—when Barack Obama and his staffers ran an organized and working government. In West Wingers, we get the inside scoop from staffers into a White House where the motto was “People are policy.” Not only is this anthology a rich and varied look inside Obama’s historic presidency, it’s also a fascinating glimpse of the executive branch of our government. In the treacherous tumult of today’s tragedies, West Wingers offers hope and reassurance that things weren’t always this bad, and that they don’t have to be anymore.
Books, as we all know, offer views into other worlds, journeys through unknown territories, engagements with unheard points of view, intimacies with the unfamiliar, and confrontations with the oppositional. They are transits into the other, guiding us—sometimes comfortably, sometimes perilously—through a world too big for us to travel in one lifetime. Through books we become voyeurs, co-conspirators, sidekicks, tag-alongs, psychics, and quantum leapers. They are our windows looking out over everything.
Anthologies go even further: they present a symphony of voices, ruminating on a single subject, a common theme, a unifying thread. They acknowledge in practice the truth that no one author can write the story for an entire group, so they collect disparate yet connected pieces to hint at the bewildering complexities of some of our most pressing issues. They amalgamate work from myriad backgrounds into, if not a representative whole then a satisfying unit that scratches at the idea of representation, like puzzles pieces that when put together form another, larger puzzle piece. Anthologies bring together writers and thinkers into a volume, and by doing so bring together readers into a necessary view of distant horizons.