Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House: A Memoir
Published 2nd January
In the Dream House is Machado's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing experience with a charismatic but volatile woman, this is a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Each chapter views the relationship through a different lens, as Machado holds events up to the light and examines them from distinct angles. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction, infusing all with her characteristic wit, playfulness and openness to enquiry. The result is a powerful book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.
Nawal El Saadawi’s Two Women in One
Published 20th January
Bahiah Shaheen is an eighteen-year-old medical student and daughter of a prominent Egyptian public official. She is also an artist – a secret she carefully keeps to herself. Bahiah finds the male students in her class coarse and alien. Her father, too, seems to belong to a race apart. Frustrated by her hard-working, well-behaved, middle-class public persona, her meeting with a stranger at a gallery one day proves to be the beginning of her road to self-discovery and, by abandoning the life constructed for her, the start of her realisation that fulfilment in life is indeed possible
Evie Wyld’s The Bass Rock
Published 26th March
Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has for centuries watched over the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries the fates of three women are linked: to this place, to each other. In the early 1700s, Sarah, accused of being a witch, flees for her life. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Ruth navigates a new house, a new husband and the strange waters of the local community. Six decades later, the house stands empty. Viv, mourning the death of her father, catalogues Ruth's belongings and discovers her place in the past - and perhaps a way forward. Each woman's choices are circumscribed, in ways big and small, by the men in their lives. But in sisterhood there is the hope of survival and new life.
Afia Atakora’s Conjure Women
Published 16th April
The pale-skinned, black-eyed baby is a bad omen. That's one thing the people on the old plantation are sure of. The other is that Miss Rue - midwife, healer, crafter of curses - will know what to do. But for once Rue doesn't know. Times have changed since her mother Miss May Belle held the power to influence the life and death of her fellow slaves. Freedom has come. The master's Big House lies in ruins. But this new world brings new dangers, and Rue's old magic may be no match for them. When sickness sweeps across her tight-knit community, Rue finds herself the focus of suspicion. And now she knows she must face her fears - and her ghosts - to find a new way forward for herself and her people. Conjure Women, the stunning debut of Atakora, is a story of the lengths we'll go to save the ones we love.
Yaa Gyasi’s Transcendent Kingdom
Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behaviour in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family's loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Exploring themes of science and faith, love, and addiction, Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief and their legacies on the body, and the mind.