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It’s important to celebrate women writers who continue to break new ground in the literary world with powerful, thrilling, and brutally honest storytelling. In honor of Women’s History Month, we want to help you with your 2022 TBR list with 15 new reads by women of color who are revitalizing literature with stories that are meant to be celebrated.
There are so many books we could choose from. But these 15 can honestly be a great foundation to build on as you curate your own library of inclusive literature, putting a spotlight on women of color and the perspectives they bring to the literary form. These books range from steamy and sexy reads like Amy Lea’s Set On You to heart-pounding thrillers like Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley. Regardless of the book you choose, we have no doubt you won’t put these page-turners down any time soon.
One of the best ways we can comprehend lived experiences unlike ours is by reading and listening. These novels offer the opportunity to bear witness to an array of experiences, all from the minds of women of color who created their characters and built worlds they inhabit. Women’s History Month is the perfect time to uplift voices that have historically been siloed. Let these books be your guide to new worlds, experiences, and perspectives that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact. Check out our round-up of new books by women of color you should buy this Women’s History Month!
‘You’re Invited’ by Amanda Jayatissa
From the author of My Sweet Girl (releasing soon in paperback this July), comes You’re Invited, a gripping new thriller about a luxurious Sri Lankan wedding celebration that turns deadly. When Amaya is invited to her estranged best friend Kaavi’s wedding, Amaya is shocked to learn that not only is she hearing from her after years of not speaking, but that Kaavi’s groom to be is Amaya’s ex-boyfriend. Determined to stop the wedding from happening, rumors swirl about Amaya’s past at the week-long lavish event. When Kaavi goes missing and is presumed dead, all evidence points to Amaya. But each wedding guest seems to have their own hidden agendas and suddenly Amaya isn’t the only likely suspect.
‘We Lie Here’ by Rachel Howzell Hall
We love a thrilling mystery and Rachel Howzell Hall is among the best authors of the genre. In her latest novel We Lie Here, we meet TV writer Yara Gibson who’s returned to her hometown of Palmdale, California to host her parents’ twentieth-anniversary party. What’s meant to be a celebration of love suddenly turns ominous when Yara receives a disturbing text: “I have information that will change your life.” The message is from Felicia Campbell, a woman who claims to have known her mother since childhood. They’ve been estranged for years but Felicia insists she talk to Yara “before it’s too late.” The next day, Felicia’s body is found floating in Lake Palmdale. To make matters more disturbing, she left Yara key to a remote lakeside cabin before her death. The cabin contains files related to a mysterious tragedy that’s gone unsolved for decades. The more Yara searches for answers, the more she fears that something deadly is just around the corner…and it may be coming for her next.
‘Under Lock & Skeleton Key’ by Gigi Pandian
Mind-blowing architecture and failed magic tricks set the stage for Gigi Pandian’s latest addictive read. Vegas magician Tempest Raj returns to her family home in California after a stunt goes wrong, most likely caused by her resentful double. With her career derailed, she settles back into the comfort of her family but her escape from Vegas doesn’t last long when she discovers the body of her former stage double in a sealed wall at her architect father’s latest job site. The family architecture business is far from ordinary, they specialize in hidden staircases, secret doors, and sliding bookcases. This thrilling mystery novel is full of twists and turns. You never know what piece of the mystery will unfold behind each hidden wall.
‘Tomorrow in Shanghai and Other Stories’ by May-Lee Chai
This beautiful and empathetic collection of short stories explores the Chinese diaspora in America, intersecting between lenses of class, wealth, age, gender, and sexuality. As the follow up to May-lee Chai’s award-winning story collection, Useful Phrases for Immigrants, she transports us to rural China, a vacation to France for a white mother and her biracial daughter, an unexpected romance between two Chinese-American women living abroad in China, and a future Chinese colony on Mars. Weaving between tales of personal and institutional power, Tomorrow in Shanghai is a necessary read in a globalized world.
‘Things We Do in the Dark’ by Jennifer Hillier
Being accused of killing her celebrity husband is just the tip of the iceberg for Paris Peralta in this brilliant new thriller from Jennifer Hillier. As the media hones in on Paris like a microscope, it’s only a matter of time before someone from her past recognizes her and brings out another dark secret that could destroy her future. Her worries become reality when a woman who knows Paris’s buried past is released from prison. As she threatens to expose Paris, she has no choice but to stand in the light and face what she’s been running from all this time.
‘The Daughter of Doctor Moreau’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is an evocative and lush reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico. The novel brings together illuminating characters including: Carlota Moreau, the daughter of mad scientist Dr. Moreau who’s obsessed with creating a race of hybrid animal-humans; Montgomery, an outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his experiments, and the hybrids themselves who obey every one of the scientist’s demands. Their lives are soon disrupted by Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and reckless son of Dr. Moreau’s patron, who begins a dangerous chain-reaction that will destroy their static world. If you love psychological horror and historical fiction, this is the book for you.
‘Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club’ by Roselle Lim
Critically acclaimed author Roselle Lim delivers a touching read about overcoming loneliness through the power of love. When Sophie Go’s career as a professional matchmaker is derailed, she becomes an outcast in her industry with little to no prospects. In desperate need for clients, she comes across a secret club in her apartment complex. Known as the Old Ducks, seven septuagenarian Chinese bachelors who never found love, become Sophie’s newest clients. Sophie’s matchmaking skills are put to the test as she faces her own loneliness, and in the process of finding love for others, she realizes she must also find love for herself.
‘Someday Mija, You’ll Learn the Difference Between a Whore and a Working Woman’ by Yvonne Martinez
Yvonne Martinez’s compelling memoir tells the story of her fleeing brutal domestic abuse and being taken in by her grandmother who was a former sex worker. Discovering disturbing secrets about her family’s history, her grandmother shares how she was trafficked as a child by her mother, and blamed for her own rape. After she passed, Yvonne starts her own family and becomes a labor activist who exposes sexual harassment in labor unions and fights to destroy corruption. A real story about generational trauma, healing and breaking the chains that bind us, Someday Mija is a triumphant read that shines a light on the darkest parts of society throughout history.
‘Set On You’ by Amy Lea
Get ready for a steamy and charming gym romance that’s perfect for poolside reading. In Set on You, plus-size fitness influencer Crystal Chen has built an inspiring and popular social media platform by disrupting gym-fluencer stereotypes. When she has a breakup, she finds solace in the gym to boost her inner strength and return to herself. With her breakup still fresh, she has no intention of dealing with men again but soon a smug and ‘swole’ firefighter by the name of Scott Ritchie joins her gym and becomes her gym nemesis. Sparks (and lust) fly as their routine competitive jabs turn into something more flirtatious. The last thing they’d expect is to be reintroduced at their grandparents’ engagement party. As the wedding approaches, they bond over life and family and Crystal gets to see the soft heart underneath Scott’s tough exterior. But their newfound relationship is put to the test when Crystal introduces her new beau to her followers and they garner a herd of savage internet trolls. Their growing love must overcome outdated societal expectations and build strength together — not just at the gym, but in their relationship.
‘Red Thread of Fate’ by Lyn Liao Butler
Red Thread of Fate is a powerful story about grief, sorrow and family secrets told with humor and compassion. Taiwanese-American Tam Kwan and her husband Tony have been waiting on the final acceptance letter to adopt an orphaned boy in China. But two days before they receive acceptance, Tony and his cousin Mia are killed in a fatal accident. Struck by grief, Tam learns she is to become the legal guardian of Mia’s five-year-old daughter Angela. With her life upended, Tam must get to know Angela who she hasn’t seen since she was an infant. Soon, a long-kept secret comes to light that threatens her already fragile family. Faced with adoption, hidden truths and a new child in her care, Tam must discover the true meaning of family through sadness, shock, and self-discovery.
‘Nightcrawling’ by Leila Mottley
Oakland author Leila Mottley is a force to be reckoned with in the literary world with her extraordinary debut novel, Nightcrawling. Seventeen-year-old Kiara is doing everything she can to support herself and her brother Marcus. They’re barely avoiding eviction from their East Oakland apartment as their family is fractured by death and prison. Plus, she’s trying to take care of their nine-year-old boy neighbor who’s been abandoned by his mother. One night, following a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger, Kiara is picked up by police officers and is offered a gruesome deal in exchange for her freedom. This puts Kiara at the center of a media storm as she becomes a key witness in a grand jury trial that could help expose the corrupt police department. Dazzling and heart-wrenching, Nightcrawling is a tale of strength and family that is set to be one of the most-talked-about books of 2022.
‘Khabaar’ by Madhushree Ghosh
Food holds even more meaning for immigrant families, carrying with it culture and family history. Part food memoir, part personal narrative, Madhushree Ghosh takes readers on a journey in Khabaar, through immigration, migration and indenture. This brilliant read weaves together the global experience of South Asian culture through food, begging the question of what it means to belong, and how to carry the importance of the past with us. She explores her own immigrant journey to America as a daughter of Indian refugees and how she reclaims who she is after leaving an abusive marriage by reconnecting with where she came from. Khabaar is the new spring read we all need right now.
‘Dele Weds Destiny’ by Tomi Obaro
Dele Weds Destiny is a highly-anticipated novel from Brooklyn-based writer, Tomi Obaro. Three college friends in Nigeria reunite thirty years later in Lagos to celebrate the wedding for one of their daughters. Funmi, Enitan, and Zainab are lifelong friends despite their differences and are bonded together through the many chapters of their lives. As the novel weaves in their unique stories about motherhood, culture and class, romance and friendship, each new revelation leads to the big lavish wedding event where their wisdom is more needed than ever.
‘Crying in the Bathroom: A Memoir’ by Erika L. Sánchez
Crying in the Bathroom is a stunning and hilarious memoir from the New York Times bestselling author of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. Erika grew up as the daughter of Mexican immigrants in Chicago during the nineties and considered herself a rebel. She was a misfit who said what she wanted to say, painted her nails black, and often caused a raucous in school with her love of comedy. 25 years later, she’s an accomplished award-winning writer but still maintains her irrepressible laugh, charm and her strong sense of self in the world around her. From white feminism to mental health, self-awareness and family, Sánchez tackles each subject with raw honesty, impeccable wit, and insightfulness that only she can deliver.
‘Bitter Orange Tree’ by Jokha Alharthi
Zuhour, an Omani student at a U.K. university attempts to build a life and assimilate in Britain but she can’t help but long for the past. She grieves the recent loss of her grandmother-figure Bint, who raised her in a small Omani village. Zuhour is haunted by Bint in dreams and seeks therapy as she navigates class, wealth and friendship. Bitter Orange Tree is an awe-inspiring mosaic of one young woman’s journey to understand where she comes from, and to form a future for herself in adulthood that’s rooted in power, happiness and freedom.
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