Books

  GOD SAVE THE QUEENS: The Essential History of Women in Hip-HopBy Kathy Iandoli(Dey Street Books) When Rapsody’s video for “Ibtihaj” dropped last summer, she rapped, “Women been leading the way, since Roxanne Shante.” As journalist Kathy Iandoli demonstrates in her excellent history of these very women “leading the way” in hip-hop, sisterly shout-outs are too rare in this genre, where women are often forced into battle rather than (as Queen Latifah spelled it) “U.N.I.T.Y.” God Save the Queens tracks the contributions of women in the rap game...
GRAND UNION: StoriesBy Zadie Smith(Penguin Press) Beloved, iconic novelist and essayist Zadie Smith presents her first collection of short stories with Grand Union, many of which are published here for the first time. The format allows for a set of mostly (but not entirely) disparate narrative nuggets, and Smith’s voice is always on the page, even as those pages wander to many different places. With stories that include Elizabeth Taylor, old friends, marital splits, Brexit, gender nonconformity, an old-fashioned corset shop, this collection contains both...
DEAD BLONDES AND BAD MOTHERS: MONSTROSITY, PATRIARCHY, AND THE FEAR OF FEMALE POWERBy Sady Doyle(Melville House) With Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers, Sady Doyle harnesses the anger of women who’ve been unfairly reduced to just daughters, wives, and mothers, to create a new feminist manifesto for a new wave of feminists. “Women have always been seen as monsters,” she writes, before diving into the history of female monstrosity and its ties to male paranoia. Men’s fear, she contends, is an acknowledgment of women’s power, so why...
American Indian StoriesBy Zitkála-Šá (Modern Library) This collection of autobiographical writings, short stories, and poetry only scratches the surface of what Zitkála-Šá accomplished over the course of her life. Born in 1876 on South Dakota’s Yankton Sioux reservation, she went east for an education and became a leading advocate for Native American rights. She co-founded the National Council of American Indians, wrote for publications like Harper’s Monthly, composed an opera, and became one of the first Native writers to reach an English-speaking audience before her death in...
Three Women Lisa Taddeo (Avid Reader Press)  In her fascinating new book, Lisa Taddeo tells the stories of three women and their experiences of desire. Maggie was in high school when a well-liked teacher started a relationship with her. Lina is a housewife who wants physical intimacy, but her husband refuses. Sloane owns a restaurant with her husband, who watches her sleep with other people. Through these three stories, Taddeo examines the complexities of female desire, the differences between fantasy and reality, and how we understand our own...
FRANKISSSTEIN: A LOVE STORY By Jeanette Winterson(Grove Press) Jeanette Winterson has reanimated Frankenstein for today’s world of rapidly innovating technology. Much like the original, this novel begs the question: What happens when a creation becomes much more than its creator could have ever planned for? Frankissstein centers on the relationship between a young transgender doctor, Ry, and Victor Stein, a professor hell-bent on pioneering the next generation of artificial intelligence. Their work leads them into a world of sex robots, experimental medicine, and of course,...
All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal PartnershipBy Darcy Lockman(Harper) Have phrases like “mental load” and “emotional labor” been buzzing around your social circle recently? All the Rage by journalist/psychologist Darcy Lockman dives deep into how progressive relationships allegedly concerned with these concepts suddenly become more traditional when children enter the equation. Apparently, once a woman becomes a mother, she is suddenly “in charge of the tracking and the knowing and the thinking and the planning and the feeding and the caring...
  Parable of the SowerBy Octavia E. Butler(Grand Central Publishing) The user manual for 2019 could very well be Octavia E. Butler’s 1993 dystopian novel, Parable of the Sower, newly re-released for a millennial audience. Set in 2024, the story’s main character, Lauren, is a Black woman who records the days of her people and their resistance to the lawlessness outside their community gates. These writings eventually become the basis for a religion called Earthseed: The Books of the Living. The new foreword in this edition...
The Joy Luck Club: A NovelBy Amy Tan (Penguin Books) Amy Tan’s bestselling novel turns 30 this year. Published at a time when Asian voices in American fiction were scant, The Joy Luck Club’s popularity and scope made it a modern classic. Its stories of four immigrant women from China and their American-born daughters feel so real that many assume the book is memoir masquerading as fiction. In a new foreword for this anniversary edition, the author examines the permeable border between fiction and fact....
With so many awesome characters in Teen Titans, it is hard to pick a stand-out. For me, Raven is my favorite character—no, wait, Starfire is. No, no, Beast Boy. I love them all. Although it is hard to choose a favorite, one thing is for sure: I’m always hungry for more individual screen time from each. If, like me, you’ve ever wanted to see more Raven, your wishes have been answered in graphic novel form with Raven, written by Beautiful Creatures co-author Kami Garcia. The origin story is set in...