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Against Heaven: Poems

Alabi’s confident debut recommends them as a name to follow, but this collection is a mixed bag of forceful but too often scattershot and hyperactive poems.

If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English

The short chapters keep the pages turning during the first two sections as the narrative heads toward the inevitable catastrophe, and the meta-fictional third section helps readers process what may have disturbed or offended in the story itself and its depiction of the characters, addressing current conversations about authorial voice, consent, and cultural appropriation. Extraordinary.

Mother Country

Winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka and James Fenimore Cooper prizes for Saint Monkey, Townsend provides many perspectives on motherhood while addressing potent issues of kidnapping, slavery, rape, abuse, and neglect, and vividly depicting their consequences. Highly recommended.

Customs: Poems

Blistering in its clear-sightedness (“No crueler word than return./ No greater lie”), this collection offers a fierce, beautiful closing that dares to imagine “a beckoning, a way.” A bold and uncompromising book with virtuosic emotional range; highly recommended.


Merging time and memory to reveal the trauma, confusion, and exhilaration of growing up, this coming-of-age novel proves that Petterson’s immense talent was on display from the very first.

Men in My Situation

Petterson has written a beautifully nuanced, deeply felt, and powerful story of survival.


The House of Rust

Inspired by African folktales, Bajaber imagined a magical realist world that earned her the first Graywolf Press Africa prize for her manuscript long before it was published. With its spunky protagonist, foreboding atmosphere, and supernatural elements, this novel would appeal to readers of Karen Russell’s genre-defying Swamplandia and would also be a perfect selection for young adults eager to broaden their literary horizons.

Pilgrim Bell: Poems

Lyrical, profound, and honest, the kind of collection to which a reader will return.

The Renunciations: Poems

Kelly’s second effort feels scraped raw, seeking to understand humanity in primal terms in the same way as her debut, but here building to even grander emotional and linguistic crescendo.


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