By Lilly Kujawski
Soft Science by Franny Choi (Alice James Books)
Hot off the press just this past April, Choi has already received a multitude of high praise for her newest collection of poetry “Soft Science.” The poems explore femininity, queerness and Choi’s Asian American identity, as well as the harsh worlds of technology and loneliness. Never short of magnificent, Choi’s poetry pulls us in, holds us and leaves us forever changed. Choi lives in Hamtramck and she is a University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers MFA program graduate and current fellow. She is also the author of the poetry collection “Floating, Brilliant, Gone” and the chapbook “Death by Sex Machine.”
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (Harper Perennial)
“Bad Feminist” explores what it means to be woman, black, immigrant, educator, queer and human in the world through a brilliant, engaging collection of essays that are both political and personal—and in that way seem in conversation with the concept often associated with Audre Lorde that the personal is political. Gay’s writing invokes in the reader both tears and laughter, anger and inspiration, empowerment and pain. This is a book for everyone to read, not just feminists—bad or otherwise.
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM TOM ZIMMERMAN
The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner (Vintage Books)
A writer of the ‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s, Faulkner’s work may be “a bit difficult” to some, due to his tendency to write in a stream of consciousness—including multiple pages in a row without any punctuation. However, if you can get past his (arguably modernist) writing style, you’ll find interesting and powerful works of literature. Faulkner wrote a lot of the American South, capturing themes and ideas that remain timeless to this day.
Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson (Alfred A. Knopf)
Carson is a poet and essayist, whose style is more experimental. “An Autobiography of Red” is a verse novel and loose recreation of the ancient myth “Geryon and the Tenth Labor of Herakles.” Carson is also the author of unique and surprising works of non-fiction.
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM MOLLY LEDERMANN
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)
Gyasi’s first book is a work of historical fiction. It traces several descending generations of an Asante woman, beginning with her daughters. The saga follows as one sister is imprisoned, sold into the slave trade and brought to America, while the other remains in Ghana. Beautifully written, Gyasi shares a powerful story that holds important truths for today.
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and A Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land (Hachette Books)
“Maid” is an autobiography detailing Land’s time working as a maid and her struggle to provide for her daughter. In the book, Land describes her experience working for the upper-middle class and explores the harsh realities of poverty, the wage gap and socioeconomic inequity in the United States.