Bewilderness by Karen Tucker

Bewilderness by Karen Tucker

Set in rural, poverty-stricken North Carolina, this “beautiful, gritty, and piercing” novel follows two young women—best friends—as they “journey through the highs and lows of friendship, love, and addiction,” perfect for readers of Julie Buntin’s Marlena (Erika Carter, author of Lucky You).

Irene, a lonely nineteen-year-old in rural North Carolina, works long nights at the local pool hall, serving pitchers and dodging drunks. One evening, her hilarious, magnetic coworker Luce invites her on a joy ride through the mountains to take revenge on a particularly creepy customer. Their adventure not only spells the beginning of a dazzling friendship, it seduces both girls into the mysterious world of pills and the endless hustles needed to fund the next high.

Together, Irene and Luce run nickel-tossing scams at the county fair and trick dealers into trading legit pharms for birth-control pills. Everything is wild and wonderful until Luce finds a boyfriend who wants to help her get clean. Soon the two of them decide to move away and start a new, sober life in Florida—leaving Irene behind.

Told in a riveting dialogue between the girls’ addicted past and their hopes for a better future, Bewilderness is not just a brilliant, funny, heartbreaking novel about opioid abuse, it’s also a moving look at how intense, intimate friendships can shape every young woman’s life.

Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer

Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies by Maddie Mortimer

This lyrical debut novel is at once a passionate coming-of-age story, a meditation on illness and death, and a kaleidoscopic journey through one woman’s life—told in part by the malevolent voice of her disease

Thrust: A Novel by Lidia Yuknavitch

Thrust: A Novel by Lidia Yuknavitch

As rising waters—and an encroaching police state—endanger her life and family, a girl with the gifts of a “carrier” travels through water and time to rescue vulnerable figures from the margins of history

Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro

Dele Weds Destiny by Tomi Obaro

The story of three once-inseparable college friends in Nigeria who reunite in Lagos for the first time in thirty years—a sparkling debut novel about mothers and daughters, culture and class, sex and love, and the extraordinary resilience of female friendship.

“The bonds between women—as friends, and across the generations—are the jewels that make this story shine.” —Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage

Funmi, Enitan, and Zainab first meet at university in Nigeria and become friends for life despite their differences. Funmi is beautiful, brash, and determined; Enitan is homely and eager, seeking escape from her single mother’s smothering and needy love; Zainab is elegant and reserved, raised by her father’s first two wives after her mother’s death in childbirth. Their friendship is complicated but enduring, and over the course of the novel, the reader learns about their loves and losses. How Funmi stole Zainab’s boyfriend and became pregnant, only to have an abortion and lose the boyfriend to police violence. How Enitan was seduced by an American Peace Corps volunteer, the only one who ever really saw her, but is culturally so different from him—a Connecticut WASP—that raising their daughter together put them at odds. How Zainab fell in love with her teacher, a friend of her father’s, and ruptured her relationship with her father to have him.

Now, some thirty years later, the three women are reunited for the first time, in Lagos. The occasion: Funmi’s daughter, Destiny, is getting married. Enitan brings her American daughter, Remi. Zainab travels by bus, nervously leaving her ailing husband in the care of their son. Funmi, hosting the weekend with her wealthy husband, wants everything to go perfectly. But as the big day approaches, it becomes clear that something is not right. As the novel builds powerfully, the complexities of the mothers’ friendship—and the private wisdom each has earned—come to bear on a riveting, heartrending moment of decision. Dele Weds Destiny is a sensational debut from a dazzling new voice in contemporary fiction.

Invisible Things: A Novel by Mat Johnson

Invisible Things: A Novel by Mat Johnson

A sharp allegorical novel about a hidden human civilization, a crucial election, and a mysterious invisible force that must not be named, by one of our most imaginative comic novelists

Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen

Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen

On this season of The Catch, contestants must compete for love. And their lives.

When the final four women in competition for an aloof, somewhat sleazy bachelor’s heart arrive on a mysterious island in the Pacific Northwest, they prepare themselves for another week of extreme sleep deprivation, invasive interviews, and, of course, the salacious drama eager viewers nationwide tune in to devour. Each woman came on The Catch for her own reasons—brand sponsorships, followers, and, yes, even love—and they’ve all got their eyes steadfastly trained on their respective prizes.

Enter Patricia, a temperamental and woefully misunderstood local living alone in the dark, verdant woods, and desperate for connection. Through twists as unexpected as they are wildly entertaining, the self-absorbed cast and jaded crew each make her acquaintance atop the island’s tallest and most desolate peak, finding themselves at the center of an action-packed thriller that is far from scripted—and only a few will make the final cut.

A whirlwind romp careening toward a last-girl-standing conclusion, and a scathing indictment of contemporary American media culture, Patricia Wants to Cuddle is also a love story: between star-crossed lesbians who rise above their intolerant town, a deeply ambivalent woman and her budding self-actualization, and a group of misfit islanders forging community against all odds.

A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times: Stories by Meron Hadero

A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times: Stories by Meron Hadero

Most Anticipated Books of 2022: The Millions, Electric Literature, Brittle Paper, Open Country Magazine, Ms. Magazine

Winner of the 2020 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing and the 2021 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, Ethiopian American author Meron Hadero’s gorgeously wrought stories in A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times offer poignant, compelling narratives of those whose lives have been marked by border crossings and the risk of displacement.

Set across the U.S. and abroad, Meron Hadero’s stories feature immigrants, refugees, and those on the brink of dispossession, all struggling to begin again, all fighting to belong. Moving through diverse geographies and styles, this captivating collection follows characters on the journey toward home, which they dream of, create and redefine, lose and find and make their own. Beyond migration, these stories examine themes of race, gender, class, friendship and betrayal, the despair of loss and the enduring resilience of hope.

Winner of the 2021 AKO Caine Prize for African Writing, “The Street Sweep” is about an enterprising young man on the verge of losing his home in Addis Ababa who pursues an improbable opportunity to turn his life around. Appearing in Best American Short Stories, “The Suitcase” follows a woman visiting her country of origin for the first time and finds that an ordinary object opens up an unexpected, complex bridge between worlds. Shortlisted for the 2019 Caine Prize, “The Wall” portrays the intergenerational friendship between two refugees living in Iowa who have connections to Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. A Best American Short Stories notable, “Mekonnen aka Mack aka Huey Freakin’ Newton” is a coming-of-age tale about an Ethiopian immigrant in Brooklyn encountering nuances of race in his new country.

Kaleidoscopic, powerful, and illuminative, the stories in A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times expand our understanding of the essential and universal need for connection and the vital refuge of home—and announce a major new talent in Meron Hadero.

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