Lisa Taddeo, Zakiya Dalila Harris and more – here are the new books you need to read.
This summer sees the arrival of some mind-blowing fiction and non-fiction books (and we don’t use that term lightly). Tackling racism, feminism, violence, sexism, sexuality, gender, female rage and beyond, we’ve selected five incredible new books that are playing with genres and spotlighting new voices and viewpoints. What also makes them so special is that they’re all incredibly readable – no weighty tomes and no dull narratives – all of these books will grab you and not let you go.
From Lisa Taddeo’s highly anticipated first novel Animal which will need to be read in one sitting to Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah’s The Sex Lives Of African Women (a non-fiction book that features women from across the globe discussing love, sex, sexuality and expectations), these are all books that deserve a space on your reading list. Buy and pre-order now and enjoy a summer of excellent reading.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
Zakiya Dalila Harris’ has written one of the books of the year. Piercing and funny – editorial assistant Nella immediately realises there is another Black girl in her office thanks to a scent of Brown Buttah hair grease which isn’t her own – this is a book that satirises the systemic racism of liberal workplaces filled with microaggressions and pervading whiteness while also mashing up unexpected genres in the smartest of ways. Initially pleased to have a Black co-worker, Nella soon finds herself feeling insecure as Hazel becomes the office darling. The book builds up to a climax that really will blow your mind; no spoilers please (out 1 June).
We Can Do Better Than This edited by Amelia Abraham
Featuring essays from singers Pabllo Vittar, who calls for an end to hate murders, and Beth Ditto, who explains why we need a revolution in representation via poet Mykki Blanco on HIV stigma, this is a book that carefully considers and tries to find solutions to the issues of repression and violence facing LGBTQ+ people across the world. Discussing safety, visibility and what it means to be beyond binary, this is a book that aims to break down prejudices and understand the root problems and how to solve them. Moving, personal and political, it’s a vital addition to your bookshelf (out 3 June).
Animal by Lisa Taddeo
The first novel from the writer of the breakout non-fiction hit, Three Women, is a fever dream of a read. As Joan leaves New York in search of the initially mysterious Alice in California, she reflects on what is propelling her towards this woman: a lifetime of the male gaze and submitting to men’s desires that demean and numb, shocking acts of violence from across her life and a fury that threatens to engulf her entire life… Intense, disturbing and provoking, it’s also a book that’s filled with humanity, sensuality and, in the end, love and hope. Not dissimilar to a David Lynch road movie, Joan’s narration is at once discomfiting and also utterly relatable. Read, give to your friends and discuss at length (out 24 June).
The Sex Lives Of African Women by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
Likened to Taddeo’s Three Women, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah’s book casts a light on the sex lives of women from across the African continent and its global diaspora. Described as: “From finding queer community in Egypt, to living a polyamorous life in Senegal, to understanding the intersectionality of religion and pleasure in Cameroon”, the book is set to revolutionise the reflection of women’s sexual experience (previously mostly seen through the prism of Western white voices). A diverse and nuanced writer, Sekyiamah is also founder of the blog Adventures From The Bedrooms Of African Women (out 22 July).
The Husbands by Chandler Baker
Nora is over everything. Overworked and underpaid in her legal job, she’s also pregnant and trying to look after her young daughter to boot. Her husband, Hayden, is loving and supportive but still manages to evade the day-to-day admin of parenting while prioritising his gym time. Your basic everyday marital nightmare in short. Then the pair go to visit a house in the exclusive neighbourhood of Dynasty Ranch and Nora meets a group of women who are not only incredibly successful but whose husbands will Marie Kondo a cupboard and whip up some fine dining when required. But lurking in the background is a burnt-out house that’s about to reveal some secrets… The Husbands is a howl of feminist rage but also one that is pure fun (out 3 August).
Images: courtesy of publishers
Francesca Brown is books editor for Stylist magazine and Stylist Loves; she also compiles the Style List on a weekly basis. She is a self-confessed HBO abuser and has a wide selection of grey sweatshirts. Honestly, you just can’t have enough. @franabouttown