6 Books by Women I Can’t Wait to Read in 2015
By Ansley Hayes
It’s an accepted fact that Western women read more than Western men. 80% of American fiction readers are women, and books written by women are published in about the same numbers as books written by men. Yet there exists a two tiered system that reserves national accolades and literary respect for male authors while passing off women’s books as puffy, indulgent, “chick lit”. Books by women writers are consistently given lower marketing priority by publishing houses, slapped with stereotypically gendered cover designs despite the content of the book, and women writers are treated differently than male authors during interviews and reviews.
Spurred by the stunning lack of gender parity in the 2013 VIDA Count, a yearly record of how many women and men have their work published in or reviewed by major American literary magazines, writer Joanna Walsh declared 2014 the “Year of Reading Women”. News of Walsh’s campaign spread quickly via a Twitter campaign and was followed by a powerful statement from Daniel Pritchard, editor of The Critical Flame, decrying the publishing world’s lack of support for women writers and women writers of color and vowing to publish only women writers in his journal for an entire year.
Read Women 2014 went viral, spawning suggested reading lists and a successful Twitter account and hashtag campaign. At the beginning of 2015, I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the 2014 VIDA Count and lining up my reading list for the year. Here are six forthcoming novels written by women that I can’t stop thinking about.
1. The First Bad Man — Miranda July
Available January 2015
I’m obsessed with Miranda July’s short stories, her award-winning film, and pretty much everything she touches. The First Bad Man is her first novel, and early reviews offer up promising quotes like this one; “Straight up, though, Miranda July is not after perfection: She loves the raw edges of emotion, she likes people and things to be a little worn. Life isn’t silky, July is saying. The snags and the snafus bring the joy.”
2. God Help The Child — Toni Morrison
Available April 2015
Oh Toni, please never stop writing. Toni Morrison, winner of a Nobel, a Pulitzer, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, has nothing left to prove in her writing, yet here is her newest novel ready to break our hearts open all over again. God Help The Child, a novel about child trauma, is her first since 2012.
3. Mislaid — Nell Zink
Available July 2015
Nell Zink burst into the literary world last year after her first book, The Wallcreeper, landed on the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014 list despite a quiet publication by a small independent press. Discovered after a chance correspondence with Jonathan Franzen, Zink produced multiple finished manuscripts but never set her sights on publication. Mislaid, a novel charting racial and sexual tensions within an American family in the 1970s South, will be published this year by Harper Collins, along with a second run of The Wallcreeper.
4. Disgruntled — Asali Solomon
Available February 2015
Asali Solomon, a graduate of the esteemed Iowa Writers Workshop and a current faculty member at Haverford College, offers her first novel this year after wowing us with her short story collection Get Down. In 2007, Solomon’s Get Down was chosen as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35”. A Kirkus review of Disgruntled claims that “blackness, feminism and the loss of virginity have never been analyzed by a more astute and witty main character.”
5. A Little Life — Hanya Yanagihara
Available March 2015
Hanya Yanagihara’s first novel The People in the Trees ruined my productivity for three days last year, so I’m eagerly awaiting her second novel out later this year. A Little Life promises a lingering look into the slow development of personal American tragedy spanning three decades, but honestly Yanagihara could write anything and I’d pay good money to read it.
6. Night at the Fiestas: Stories — Kirstin Valdez Quade
Available March 2015
Night at the Fiestas is my wildcard pick of this list. I know nothing about the author except that she wrote this wicked short story and was chosen as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” for 2014. In her October New Yorker interview, Valdez-Quade offered a glimpse of the world her book inhabits; “For the most part, the stories in “Night at the Fiestas” are set in northern New Mexico, against a backdrop of the miracle-laden, medieval Hispanic Catholicism practiced in the region where my family is from. Most of the conflicts center on the family and the particular ways in which members of a family can betray and wound and sustain one another.
Remember you can find these titles and many more at Avid Bookshop, your friendly, local, women-owned independent bookstore. Avid also offers online pre-orders for new titles.