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Louise Erdrich
The Night Watchman

When I start reading very thick books – The Nightwatchman with its nearly 500 pages is one of those – I’m often skeptical whether such bulk is really necessary. But I simply devoured this book in two days.

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Audre Lorde
Sister Outsider

Sister Outsider by African-American, lesbian, feminist poet and activist Audre Lorde is a foundational text for anyone interested in intersectionality and reflecting on their own social positions.

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Audre Lorde
Zami: A New Spelling of My Name

Audre Lorde’s biomythography Zami: A New Spelling of My Name relates this iconic writer’s personal, poetic, political and sexual coming-of-age. Lorde was a self-described “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet” and this recording of her early life is a powerful piece of writing. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the lived experiences of intersectional marginalisation, as told by one of the most strident and talented voices to talk about these realities.

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Jhumpa Lahiri
The Namesake

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri’s debut novel tells the story of the Ganguli family: Ashoke and Ashima, originally from Bengal, migrate to the North-eastern United States in the 1960s. They have two children there, and the novel follows the experiences of their firstborn son. It’s a novel about living in between places, cultures and assigned identities.

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Colson Whitehead
The Nickel Boys

In a grazing pasture on the North side of what was once the campus of the Nickel Academy for Boys, an archaeology student from the University of Florida stumbles across a field of bones: unmarked graves. She and her cohort are there to excavate the official graveyard of the school before the lands are developed into an office park. The small bones in the known cemetery are already suspiciously often fractured, suggesting breaks and injuries before death: what history of abuses does the field of unmarked bones testify to? Thus begins Colson Whitehead’s prizewinning novel The Nickel Boys.

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Yaa Gyasi
Transcendent Kingdom

Addiction and family, religion and science, being Ghanaian in Alabama: these are some of the issues that Yaa Gyasi’a second novel Transcendent Kingdom confronts. Written from the perspective of Gifty, now a talented biomedical researcher at a prestigious US university, this is the story of the loss of a charismatic brother to opioid addiction, and the complex aftermath of this trauma for those he leaves behind.

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Ocean Vuong
On Earth we’re briefly gorgeous

“On Earth we’re briefly gorgeous” is a dramatic coming-of-age story interlaced with family trauma, and a letter to the mother of the now-adult narrator. This highly poetic book conveys a nuanced and exceedingly ambivalent understanding of violence.

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Aimee Nezhukumatathil
World of Wonders

In her recently published essay volume World of Wonders, Aimee Nezhukumatathil frames moments in her life that have shaped her, with anecdotes about animals and plants. In this way, she conveys how wondrous and impressive flora and fauna can be, and how much they have to teach.

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