Identity & Culture Fiction Audiobooks

Fiction that explores issues of race, gender, culture, and identity gives us all an insider’s view on a range of human experiences, intimate relationships, and diverse cultures. Identity and culture fiction audiobooks help us understand and, perhaps most importantly, see ourselves reflected in stories. Listen to a range of fascinating fiction that poignantly highlights identity and belonging.

Fiction that explores issues of race, gender, culture, and identity gives us all an insider’s view on a range of human experiences, intimate relationships, and diverse cultures. Identity and culture fiction audiobooks help us understand and, perhaps most importantly, see ourselves reflected in stories. Listen to a range of fascinating fiction that poignantly highlights identity and belonging.

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New & Noteworthy: Identity & Culture Fiction

  • Siren Queen
    Siren Queen
    Siren Queen

    Audiobook

    Siren Queen

    byNghi Vo

    FROM AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR NGHI VO COMES A DAZZLING NEW NOVEL WHERE IMMORTALITY IS JUST A CASTING CALL AWAY It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic. "No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers." Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn't care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid. But in Luli's world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself. Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page. A Macmillan Audio production from Tor.com Books.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • Love Marriage: A Novel
    Love Marriage: A Novel
    Love Marriage: A Novel

    Audiobook

    Love Marriage: A Novel

    byMonica Ali

    Set in London now, Love Marriage marks the magnificent return of Monica Ali, the Booker Prize shortlisted, “splendid, daring, brilliant, refreshing” novelist (The New Republic) “with an inborn generosity that cannot be learned” (The New York Times Book Review). Yasmin Ghorami is twenty-six, in training to be a doctor (like her Indian-born father), and engaged to the charismatic, upper-class Joe Sangster, whose formidable mother, Harriet, is a famous feminist. The gulf between families is vast. So, too, is the gulf in sexual experience between Yasmin and Joe. As the wedding day draws near, misunderstandings, infidelities, and long-held secrets upend both Yasmin’s relationship and that of her parents, a “love marriage,” according to the family lore that Yasmin has believed all her life. A gloriously acute observer of class, sexual mores, and the mysteries of the human heart, Monica Ali has written a captivating social comedy and a profoundly moving, revelatory story of two cultures, two families, and two people trying to understand one another. Monica Ali’s Brick Lane was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was named a best book of the year by The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • Rouge Street: Three Novellas
    Rouge Street: Three Novellas
    Rouge Street: Three Novellas

    Audiobook

    Rouge Street: Three Novellas

    byShuang Xuetao

    Introduced by Madeleine Thien, author of the Booker finalist novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing From one of the most highly celebrated young Chinese writers, three dazzling novellas of Northeast China, mixing realism, mysticism, and noir. An inventor dreams of escaping his drab surroundings in a flying machine. A criminal, trapped beneath a frozen lake, fights a giant fish. A strange girl pledges to ignite a field of sorghum stalks. Rouge Street presents three novellas by Shuang Xuetao, the lauded young Chinese writer whose frank, fantastical short fiction has already inspired comparisons to Ernest Hemingway and Haruki Murakami. Located in China’s frigid Northeast, Shenyang, the author’s birthplace, boasts an illustrious past—legend holds that the emperor’s makeup was manufactured here. But while the city enjoyed renewed importance as an industrial hub under Mao Zedong, China’s subsequent transition from communism to a market economy led to an array of social ills—unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorce, suicide—that gritty Shenyang epitomizes. Orbiting the toughest neighborhood of a postindustrial city whose vast, inhospitable landscape makes every aspect of life a struggle, these many-voiced missives are united by Shuang Xuetao’s singular style—one that balances hardscrabble naturalism with the transcendent and faces the bleak environs with winning humor. Rouge Street illuminates not only the hidden pains of those left behind in an extraordinary economic boom but also the inspiration and grace they, nevertheless, manage to discover.

    Rating: 0 out of 5 stars
    0 ratings
  • Fevered Star
    Fevered Star
    Fevered Star

    Audiobook

    Fevered Star

    byRebecca Roanhorse

    Return to The Meridian with New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Roanhorse’s sequel to the most critically hailed epic fantasy of 2020 Black Sun—finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Lambda, and Locus awards. There are no tides more treacherous than those of the heart. —Teek saying The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent. The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded? As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth. And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction? Welcome back to the fantasy series of the decade in Fevered Star—book two of Between Earth and Sky.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • Hope and Glory: A Novel
    Hope and Glory: A Novel
    Hope and Glory: A Novel

    Audiobook

    Hope and Glory: A Novel

    byJendella Benson

    One of the year’s most anticipated by Marie Claire, Essence, Debutiful, & Goodreads A brilliant debut by a British-Nigerian author—a heartfelt family drama that will delight book club readers and fans of books like The Girl with the Louding Voice and Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. "Jendella Benson has drawn such a compelling world. The book and the characters stayed with me long after I'd turned the final pages!"--Candice Carty-Williams, bestselling author of Queenie Glory Akindele returns to London from her seemingly glamorous life in LA to mourn the sudden death of her father, only to find her previously close family has fallen apart in her absence. Her brother, Victor, is in jail and won’t speak to her because she didn’t come home for his trial. Her older sister, Faith, once a busy career woman, appears to have lost her independence and ambition, and is instead channeling her energies into holding together a perfect suburban family. Worst of all, their mother, Celeste, is headed toward a breakdown after the death of her husband and the shame of her son’s incarceration. Rather than returning to America, Glory decides to stay and try to bring them all together again. It’s a tall order given that Glory’s life isn’t exactly working out according to plan either, and she’s acutely aware that she’s not so sure who she is and what she wants. A chance reunion with a man she’d known in her teens—the perceptive but elusive Julian—gives her the courage to start questioning why her respectable but obsessively private Nigerian immigrant family is the way it is. But then Glory’s questioning unearths a massive secret that shatters the family’s fragile peace—and she risks losing everyone she deeply cares about in her pursuit of the truth and a reunited family. "Filled with unexpected, but earned, twists, Hope and Glory balances moments of rich humor and devastating profundity...deeply authentic."--Kirkus Reviews "A sumptuous and satisfying meditation on family and the meaning of home.”--Publishers Weekly

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • An Unlasting Home: A Novel
    An Unlasting Home: A Novel
    An Unlasting Home: A Novel

    Audiobook

    An Unlasting Home: A Novel

    byMai Al-Nakib

    The debut novel from an award-winning short story writer: a multigenerational saga spanning Lebanon, Iraq, India, the United States, and Kuwait that brings to life the triumphs and failures of three generations of Arab women. In 2013, Sara is a philosophy professor at Kuwait University, having returned to Kuwait from Berkeley in the wake of her mother’s sudden death eleven years earlier. Her main companions are her grandmother’s talking parrot, Bebe Mitu; the family cook, Aasif; and Maria, her childhood ayah and the one person who has always been there for her. Sara’s relationship with Kuwait is complicated; it is a country she always thought she would leave, and a country she recognizes less and less, and yet a certain inertia keeps her there. But when teaching Nietzsche in her Intro to Philosophy course leads to an accusation of blasphemy, which carries with it the threat of execution, Sara realizes she must reconcile her feelings and her place in the world once and for all. Interspersed with Sara’s narrative are the stories of her grandmothers: beautiful and stubborn Yasmine, who marries the son of the Pasha of Basra and lives to regret it, and Lulwa, born poor in the old town of Kuwait, swept off her feet to an estate in India by the son of a successful merchant family; and her two mothers: Noura, who dreams of building a life in America and helping to shape its Mid-East policies, and Maria, who leaves her own children behind in Pune to raise Sara and her brother Karim and, in so doing, transforms many lives. Ranging from the 1920s to the near present, An Unlasting Home traces Kuwait’s rise from a pearl-diving backwater to its reign as a thriving cosmopolitan city to the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion. At once intimate and sweeping, personal and political, it is an unforgettable epic and a spellbinding family saga.  Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
  • If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English
    If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English
    If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English

    Audiobook

    If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English

    byNoor Naga

    Winner of the Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize, a lush experimental novel about love as a weapon of empire. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, an Egyptian American woman and a man from the village of Shobrakheit meet at a café in Cairo. He was a photographer of the revolution, but now finds himself unemployed and addicted to cocaine, living in a rooftop shack. She is a nostalgic daughter of immigrants “returning” to a country she’s never been to before, teaching English and living in a light-filled flat with balconies on all sides. They fall in love and he moves in. But soon their desire?for one another, for the selves they want to become through the other?takes a violent turn that neither of them expected. A dark romance exposing the gaps in American identity politics, especially when exported overseas, If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English is at once ravishing and wry, scathing and tender. Told in alternating perspectives, Noor Naga’s experimental debut examines the ethics of fetishizing the homeland and punishing the beloved . . . and vice versa. In our globalized twenty-first-century world, what are the new faces (and races) of empire? When the revolution fails, how long can someone survive the disappointment? Who suffers and, more crucially, who gets to tell about it?

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • The Fallen
    The Fallen
    The Fallen

    Audiobook

    The Fallen

    byCarlos Manuel Álvarez

    A powerful, unsettling portrait of family life in Cuba, Carlos Manuel Álvarez’s first novel is a masterful portrayal of a society in free fall. Diego, the son, is disillusioned and bitter about the limited freedoms his country offers him as he endures compulsory military service. Mariana, the mother, is unwell, prone to mysterious seizures, and forced to relinquish control over the household to her daughter, Maria, who has left school and is working as a chambermaid in a state-owned tourist hotel. The father, Armando, is a committed revolutionary, a die-hard Fidelista who is sickened by the corruption he perceives all around him. As each member of the family narrates seemingly quotidian and overlapping events, they grow increasingly at odds for reasons that remain elusive to them—each of them holding and concealing their own secrets. In meticulously charting the disintegration of a single family, The Fallen offers a poignant reflection on contemporary Cuba and the clash of the ardent idealism of the old guard with the jaded pragmatism of the young. This is a startling and incisive debut by a radiant new voice in Latin American literature.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • Four Treasures of the Sky: A Novel
    Four Treasures of the Sky: A Novel
    Four Treasures of the Sky: A Novel

    Audiobook

    Four Treasures of the Sky: A Novel

    byJenny Tinghui Zhang

    "Reader Katharine Chin has a young, clear voice that captures Daiyu’s determination and spirit. Chinese names and phrases flow easily, and Chin voices the cast of characters with sensitivity. Absolutely first rate." - Booklist (starred review) This program includes a bonus conversation between the author and editor. A propulsive and dazzling debut novel set against the backdrop of the Chinese Exclusion Act, about a Chinese girl fighting to claim her place in the 1880s American West Daiyu never wanted to be like the tragic heroine for whom she was named, revered for her beauty and cursed with heartbreak. But when she is kidnapped and forced across an ocean from China to America, Daiyu must relinquish the home and future she imagined for herself. Over the years that follow, she is forced to keep reinventing herself to survive. From a calligraphy school, to a San Francisco brothel, to a shop tucked into the Idaho mountains, we follow Daiyu on a desperate quest to outrun the tragedy that chases her. As anti-Chinese sentiment sweeps across the country in a wave of unimaginable violence, Daiyu must draw on each of the selves she has been—including the ones she most wants to leave behind—in order to finally claim her own name and story. At once a literary tour de force and a groundbreaking work of historical fiction, Four Treasures of the Sky announces Jenny Tinghui Zhang as an indelible new voice. Steeped in untold history and Chinese folklore, this novel is a spellbinding feat. A Macmillan Audio production from Flatiron Books "Jenny Tinghui Zhang uses her considerable talents to illuminate the shocking injustices the Chinese in this country suffered in the 1800s, and in doing so, makes us stop and consider how much of that cruelty and injustice survive to this day. Four Treasures of the Sky is an engulfing, bighearted, and heartbreaking novel."—Ann Patchett “In a sweeping adventure that spans China and the American West, Jenny Tinghui Zhang has crafted a thoughtful story of identity, love, and belonging.”—C Pam Zhang, author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold “Brilliant and devastating, Four Treasures of the Sky tells the story of Daiyu, who is brought to America against her will and forced to hide who she is even as she grows into her true self. Weaving together myth and history, Zhang’s work is both timeless and utterly necessary right now.”—Anna North, New York Times bestselling author of Outlawed

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • The White Girl: A Novel
    The White Girl: A Novel
    The White Girl: A Novel

    Audiobook

    The White Girl: A Novel

    byTony Birch

    “A profound allegory of good and evil, and a deep exploration of human interaction, black and white, alternately beautiful and tender, cruel and unsettling.”—Guardian Australia’s leading indigenous storyteller makes his American debut with this immersive and deeply resonant novel, set in the 1960s, that explores the lengths we’ll go to save the people we love—an unforgettable story of one native Australian family and the racist government that threatens to separate them. Odette Brown has lived her entire life on the fringes of Deane, a small Australian country town. Dark secrets simmer beneath the surface of Deane—secrets that could explain why Odette's daughter, Lila, left her one-year-old daughter, Sissy, and never came back, or why Sissy has white skin when her family is Aboriginal.  For thirteen years, Odette has quietly raised her granddaughter without drawing notice from welfare authorities who remove fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. But the arrival of a new policeman with cruel eyes and a rigid by-the-book attitude throws the Brown women's lives off-kilter. It will take all of Odette's courage and cunning to save Sissy from the authorities, and maybe even lead her to find her daughter.  Bolstered by love, smarts, and the strength of their ancestors, Odette and Sissy are an indomitable force, handling threats to their family and their own identities with grace and ingenuity, while never losing hope for themselves and their future. In The White Girl, Miles Franklin Award-nominated author Tony Birch illuminates Australia’s devastating post-colonial past—notably the government’s racist policy of separating Indigenous children from their families, known today as the Stolen Generations—and introduces a tight-knit group of charming, inspiring characters who remind us of our shared humanity, and that kindness, hope, and love have no limits.

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
  • The Last Suspicious Holdout: Stories
    The Last Suspicious Holdout: Stories
    The Last Suspicious Holdout: Stories

    Audiobook

    The Last Suspicious Holdout: Stories

    byLadee Hubbard

    The critically acclaimed author of The Rib King returns with an eagerly anticipated collection of interlocking short stories including the title story written exclusively for this volume, that explore relationships between friends, family and strangers in a Black neighborhood over fifteen years The twelve gripping tales In The Last Suspicious Holdout, the new story collection by award-winning author Ladee Hubbard, deftly chronicle poignant moments in the lives of an African American community located in a “sliver of southern suburbia.” Spanning from 1992 to 2007, the stories represent a period during which the Black middle-class expanded while stories of "welfare Queens," "crack babies," and "super predators" abounded in the media. In “False Cognates,” a formerly incarcerated attorney struggles with raising the tuition to keep his troubled son in an elite private school. In “There He Go,” a young girl whose mother moves constantly clings to a picture of the grandfather she doesn’t know but invents stories of his greatness. Characters spotlighted in one story reappear in another, providing a stunning testament to the enduring resilience of Black people as they navigate the “post-racial” period The Last Suspicious Holdout so vividly portrays.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • Black Girls Must Be Magic: A Novel
    Black Girls Must Be Magic: A Novel
    Black Girls Must Be Magic: A Novel

    Audiobook

    Black Girls Must Be Magic: A Novel

    byJayne Allen

    “Masterfully written and pitch perfect, Black Girls Must Be Magic is, simply, magic.”—Good Morning America In this highly anticipated second installment in the Black Girls Must Die Exhausted series, Tabitha Walker copes with more of life’s challenges and a happy surprise—a baby—with a little help and lots of love from friends old and new. For Tabitha Walker, her grandmother’s old adage, “Black girls must die exhausted” is becoming all too true. Discovering she’s pregnant—after she was told she may not be able to have biological children—Tabitha throws herself headfirst into the world of “single mothers by choice.” Between her job, doctor’s appointments, and preparing for the baby, she’s worn out. And that’s before her boss at the local news station starts getting complaints from viewers about Tabitha’s natural hair. When an unexpected turn of events draws Marc—her on and off-again ex-boyfriend—back into her world with surprising demands, and the situation at work begins to threaten her livelihood and her identity, Tabitha must make some tough decisions about her and her baby’s future. It takes a village to raise a child, and Tabitha turns to the women who have always been there for her. Bolstered by the fierce support of Ms. Gretchen, her grandmother’s best friend, the counsel of her closest friends Laila and Alexis, and the calming presence of her doula Andouele, Tabitha must find a way to navigate motherhood on her own terms. Will she harness the bravery, strength, and self-love she’ll need to keep “the village” together, find her voice at work, and settle things with Marc before the baby arrives? 

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • Don't Cry for Me: A Novel
    Don't Cry for Me: A Novel
    Don't Cry for Me: A Novel

    Audiobook

    Don't Cry for Me: A Novel

    byDaniel Black

    NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK IN ESSENCE MAGAZINE, THE MILLIONS AND BOOKISH "Don't Cry for Me is a perfect song."—Jesmyn Ward A Black father makes amends with his gay son through letters written on his deathbed in this wise and penetrating novel of empathy and forgiveness, for fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates, Robert Jones Jr. and Alice Walker As Jacob lies dying, he begins to write a letter to his only son, Isaac. They have not met or spoken in many years, and there are things that Isaac must know. Stories about his ancestral legacy in rural Arkansas that extend back to slavery. Secrets from Jacob's tumultuous relationship with Isaac's mother and the shame he carries from the dissolution of their family. Tragedies that informed Jacob's role as a father and his reaction to Isaac's being gay. But most of all, Jacob must share with Isaac the unspoken truths that reside in his heart. He must give voice to the trauma that Isaac has inherited. And he must create a space for the two to find peace.  With piercing insight and profound empathy, acclaimed author Daniel Black illuminates the lived experiences of Black fathers and queer sons, offering an authentic and ultimately hopeful portrait of reckoning and reconciliation. Spare as it is sweeping, poetic as it is compulsively readable, Don't Cry for Me is a monumental novel about one family grappling with love's hard edges and the unexpected places where hope and healing take flight.

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
  • The Family Chao
    The Family Chao
    The Family Chao

    Audiobook

    The Family Chao

    byLan Samantha Chang

    The residents of Haven, Wisconsin, have dined on the Fine Chao restaurant’s delicious Americanized Chinese food for thirty-five years, content to ignore any unsavory whispers about the family owners. Whether or not Big Leo Chao is honest, or his wife, Winnie, is happy, their food tastes good and their three sons earned scholarships to respectable colleges. But when the brothers reunite in Haven, the Chao family’s secrets and simmering resentments erupt at last. Before long, brash, charismatic, and tyrannical patriarch Leo is found dead—presumed murdered—and his sons find they’ve drawn the exacting gaze of the entire town. The ensuing trial brings to light potential motives for all three brothers: Dagou, the restaurant’s reckless head chef; Ming, financially successful but personally tortured; and the youngest, gentle but lost college student James. As the spotlight on the brothers tightens—and the family dog meets an unexpected fate—Dagou, Ming, and James must reckon with the legacy of their father’s outsized appetites and their own future survival. Brimming with heartbreak, comedy, and suspense, The Family Chao offers a kaleidoscopic, highly entertaining portrait of a Chinese American family grappling with the dark undercurrents of a seemingly pleasant small town.

    Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
  • You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays
    You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays
    You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays

    Audiobook

    You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays

    byZora Neale Hurston

    Introduction by New York Times bestselling author Henry Louis Gates Jr.  Spanning more than 35 years of work, the first comprehensive collection of essays, criticism, and articles by the legendary author of the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston, showcasing the evolution of her distinctive style as an archivist and author. “One of the greatest writers of our time.”—Toni Morrison You Don’t Know Us Negroes is the quintessential gathering of provocative essays from one of the world’s most celebrated writers, Zora Neale Hurston. Spanning more than three decades and penned during the backdrop of the birth of the Harlem Renaissance, Montgomery bus boycott, desegregation of the military, and school integration, Hurston’s writing articulates the beauty and authenticity of Black life as only she could. Collectively, these essays showcase the roles enslavement and Jim Crow have played in intensifying Black people’s inner lives and culture rather than destroying it. She argues that in the process of surviving, Black people re-interpreted every aspect of American culture—"modif[ying] the language, mode of food preparation, practice of medicine, and most certainly religion.” White supremacy prevents the world from seeing or completely recognizing Black people in their full humanity and Hurston made it her job to lift the veil and reveal the heart and soul of the race. These pages reflect Hurston as the controversial figure she was—someone who stated that feminism is a mirage and that the integration of schools did not necessarily improve the education of Black students. Also covered is the sensational trial of Ruby McCollum, a wealthy Black woman convicted in 1952 for killing her lover, a white doctor. Demonstrating the breadth of this revered and influential writer’s work, You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays is an invaluable chronicle of a writer’s development and a window into her world and mind. Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • Perpetual West
    Perpetual West
    Perpetual West

    Audiobook

    Perpetual West

    byMesha Maren

    When Alex and Elana move from rural Virginia to El Paso, they are just a young married couple, each the other’s best friend, intent on a new beginning. Born in Mexico but adopted to white American Pentecostal parents, Alex is hungry to learn about his heritage and spends every free moment across the border in Juárez—perfecting his Spanish, hanging with a collective of young activists, and studying Mexican wresting, lucha libre, for his graduate work in sociology. Though Elana has enrolled at the local university as well, she feels disillusioned by academia and struggles to find her place in their new home. She also has no idea how close Alex has become with Mateo, a lucha libre fighter. When Alex goes missing and Elana can’t determine whether he left of his own accord or was kidnapped, it’s clear that neither of them has faced who they really are. Spanning their journey from Virginia to Texas to the heart of Mexico, Mesha Maren's thrilling and fiercely intelligent follow-up to Sugar Run takes us from missionaries to wrestling matches to a luxurious cartel compound, and deep into the psychic choices that shape our identities. A sweeping novel that tells us as much about America and Mexico as it does about our own natures and desires, Perpetual West is an utterly engaging look at the false divide between high and low culture, and a suspenseful story of how harrowing events can bring our true selves to the surface.

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
  • Heartland
    Heartland
    Heartland

    Audiobook

    Heartland

    byAna Simo

    In a word-drunk romp through an alternate, pre-apocalyptic United States, Ana Simo’s fiction debut, Heartland, is the uproarious story of a thwarted writer’s elaborate revenge on the woman who stole her lover, blending elements of telenovela, pulp noir, and dystopian satire. There’s only one solution for a nasty case of writer’s block, and that’s murder. Specifically, that of one Mercy McCabe, a cunning SoHo art dealer who was once our Latina narrator’s rival for the scrumptious Bebe. When she discovers that McCabe has squandered Bebe’s affections after stealing her away, revenge is not enough: McCabe must confess her guilt, sentence herself, and beg for her own execution, Soviet-style. In the all-too-terrifyingly-familiar America of Heartland, the inconceivable has become ordinary: corruption and greed at the top have led to mass starvation in the heartland; hordes of refugees have escaped from resettlement camps and attack the cities; a puritanical Caliphate has toppled Constantinople, with America in its sights. Meanwhile, escaping her New York life in disguise, our heroine lures McCabe to her home turf: a hilltop house in the Great Plains where her parents worked as domestic servants. Her nemesis, though, is slippery, and McCabe disappears, threatening to ruin a homicidal masterplan so detailed as to be akin to love. Heartland is a hilarious, genre-defying debut that confronts taboos of race, assimilation, and sex through a high-voltage tale of love, language, and revenge.

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
  • Yonder: A Novel
    Yonder: A Novel
    Yonder: A Novel

    Audiobook

    Yonder: A Novel

    byJabari Asim

    The Water Dancer meets The Prophets in this spare, gripping, and beautifully rendered novel exploring love and friendship among a group of enslaved Black strivers in the mid-19th century. They call themselves the Stolen. Their owners call them captives. They are taught their captors’ tongues and their beliefs but they have a language and rituals all their own. In a world that would be allegorical if it weren’t saturated in harsh truths, Cato and William meet at Placid Hall, a plantation in an unspecified part of the American South. Subject to the whims of their tyrannical and eccentric captor, Cannonball Greene, they never know what harm may befall them: inhumane physical toil in the plantation’s quarry by day, a beating by night, or the sale of a loved one at any moment. It’s that cruel practice—the wanton destruction of love, the belief that Black people aren’t even capable of loving—that hurts the most. It hurts the reserved and stubborn William, who finds himself falling for Margaret, a small but mighty woman with self-possession beyond her years. And it hurts Cato, whose first love, Iris, was sold off with no forewarning. He now finds solace in his hearty band of friends, including William, who is like a brother; Margaret; Little Zander; and Milton, a gifted artist. There is also Pandora, with thick braids and long limbs, whose beauty calls to him. Their relationships begin to fray when a visiting minister with a mysterious past starts to fill their heads with ideas about independence. He tells them that with freedom comes the right to choose the small things—when to dine, when to begin and end work—as well as the big things, such as whom and how to love. Do they follow the preacher and pursue the unknown? Confined in a landscape marked by deceit and uncertainty, who can they trust? In an elegant work of monumental imagination that will reorient how we think of the legacy of America’s shameful past, Jabari Asim presents a beautiful, powerful, and elegiac novel that examines intimacy and longing in the quarters while asking a vital question: What would happen if an enslaved person risked everything for love?

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
  • Velorio: A Novel
    Velorio: A Novel
    Velorio: A Novel

    Audiobook

    Velorio: A Novel

    byXavier Navarro Aquino

    Featured on NPR's WEEKEND EDITION Set in the wake of Hurricane Maria, Xavier Navarro Aquino’s unforgettable debut novel follows a remarkable group of survivors searching for hope on an island torn apart by both natural disaster and human violence. Camila is haunted by the death of her sister, Marisol, who was caught by a mudslide during the huracán. Unable to part with Marisol, Camila carries her through town, past the churchyard, and, eventually, to the supposed utopia of Memoria.  Urayoán, the idealistic, yet troubled cult leader of Memoria, has a vision for this new society, one that in his eyes is peaceful and democratic. The paradise he preaches lures in the young, including Bayfish, a boy on the cusp of manhood, and Morivivi, a woman whose outward toughness belies an inner tenderness for her friends. But as the different members of Memoria navigate Urayoán’s fiery rise, they will need to confront his violent authoritarian impulses in order to find a way to reclaim their home. Velorio—meaning “wake”—is a story of strength, resilience, and hope; a tale of peril and possibility buoyed by the deeply held belief in a people’s ability to unite against those corrupted by power. 

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • The School for Good Mothers: A Novel
    The School for Good Mothers: A Novel
    The School for Good Mothers: A Novel

    Audiobook

    The School for Good Mothers: A Novel

    byJessamine Chan

    An Instant New York Times Bestseller A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick In this taut and explosive debut novel, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance. Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough. Until Frida has a very bad day. The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion. Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good. A searing page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love, The School for Good Mothers introduces, in Frida, an everywoman for the ages. Using dark wit to explore the pains and joys of the deepest ties that bind us, Chan has written a modern literary classic.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • Olga Dies Dreaming: A Novel
    Olga Dies Dreaming: A Novel
    Olga Dies Dreaming: A Novel

    Audiobook

    Olga Dies Dreaming: A Novel

    byXochitl Gonzalez

    "All three narrators are Puerto Rican–born and deliver the Spanish passages with musical grace, thereby enhancing an already fine novel." —The Washington Post “The narrators’ accents and code-shifting create a vibrant auditory experience. In particular, Guerra’s luscious voice conveys Olga’s transformation from fighter to a compassionate woman as she overcomes dualities and finds wholeness within herself.” – BookPage A blazing new talent debuts with the story of a status-driven wedding planner grappling with her absent mother, her glittering career amongst New York’s elite and her Puerto Rican roots in the wake of Hurricane Maria. It’s 2017, and Olga and her brother, Pedro “Prieto” Acevedo are bold faced names in their hometown of New York. Prieto is a popular Congressman representing their gentrifying, Latinx neighborhood in Brooklyn while Olga is the tony wedding planner for Manhattan’s powerbrokers. Despite their alluring public lives, behind closed doors things are far less rosy. Sure, Olga can orchestrate the love stories of the 1%, but she can’t seem to find her own...until she meets Matteo, who forces her to confront the effects of long held family secrets… Twenty-seven years ago, their mother Blanca, a Young Lord-turned-radical, abandoned her children to advance a militant political cause, leaving them to be raised by their grandmother. Now, with the winds of hurricane season, Blanca has come barreling back into their lives. Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, Xochitl Gonzalez's Olga Dies Dreaming is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife and the very notion of the American Dream—all while asking what it really means to weather a storm. A Macmillan Audio production from Flatiron Books

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • Beasts of a Little Land: A Novel
    Beasts of a Little Land: A Novel
    Beasts of a Little Land: A Novel

    Audiobook

    Beasts of a Little Land: A Novel

    byJuhea Kim

    "A spectacular debut filled with great characters and heart.” —Lisa See, author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan A Recommended Read from: USA Today * The Washington Post * Entertainment Weekly * The Today Show * Real Simple * Good Morning America * Harper's Bazaar * Buzzfeed * Fortune * Vulture * Goodreads * Lit Hub * Book Riot * PopSugar * E! Online * Ms. Magazine * Chicago Review of Books * Bustle * The Oregonian * The Millions An epic story of love, war, and redemption set against the backdrop of the Korean independence movement, following the intertwined fates of a young girl sold to a courtesan school and the penniless son of a hunter In 1917, deep in the snowy mountains of occupied Korea, an impoverished local hunter on the brink of starvation saves a young Japanese officer from an attacking tiger. In an instant, their fates are connected—and from this encounter unfolds a saga that spans half a century. In the aftermath, a young girl named Jade is sold by her family to Miss Silver’s courtesan school, an act of desperation that will cement her place in the lowest social status. When she befriends an orphan boy named JungHo, who scrapes together a living begging on the streets of Seoul, they form a deep friendship. As they come of age, JungHo is swept up in the revolutionary fight for independence, and Jade becomes a sought-after performer with a new romantic prospect of noble birth. Soon Jade must decide whether she will risk everything for the one who would do the same for her. From the perfumed chambers of a courtesan school in Pyongyang to the glamorous cafes of a modernizing Seoul and the boreal forests of Manchuria, where battles rage, Juhea Kim’s unforgettable characters forge their own destinies as they wager their nation’s. Immersive and elegant, Beasts of a Little Land unveils a world where friends become enemies, enemies become saviors, heroes are persecuted, and beasts take many shapes.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • Tell Me How to Be: A Novel
    Tell Me How to Be: A Novel
    Tell Me How to Be: A Novel

    Audiobook

    Tell Me How to Be: A Novel

    byNeel Patel

    “Narrator Vikas Adam does an excellent job of balancing the angst- ridden Akash with the mourning Renu in this mother-and-son story of love and loss” – AudioFile Magazine “Tell Me How to Be is daring, hilarious, poignant, and impossible to put down. Neel Patel is a fabulous storyteller!” —Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies From rising star Neel Patel (“refreshing…defiant…consistently surprising” —New York Times), a darkly funny and heartbreaking debut novel about an Indian-American family confronting the secrets between them. Renu Amin always seemed perfect: doting husband, beautiful house, healthy sons. But as the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death approaches, Renu is binge-watching soap operas and simmering with old resentments. She can’t stop wondering if, thirty-five years ago, she chose the wrong life. In Los Angeles, her son, Akash, has everything he ever wanted, but as he tries to kickstart his songwriting career and commit to his boyfriend, he is haunted by the painful memories he fled a decade ago. When his mother tells him she is selling the family home, Akash returns to Illinois, hoping to finally say goodbye and move on. Together, Renu and Akash pack up the house, retreating further into the secrets that stand between them. Renu sends an innocent Facebook message to the man she almost married, sparking an emotional affair that calls into question everything she thought she knew about herself. Akash slips back into bad habits as he confronts his darkest secrets—including what really happened between him and the first boy who broke his heart. When their pasts catch up to them, Renu and Akash must decide between the lives they left behind and the ones they’ve since created, between making each other happy and setting themselves free. By turns irreverent and tender, filled with the beats of ’90s R&B, Tell Me How to Be is about our earliest betrayals and the cost of reconciliation. But most of all, it is the love story of a mother and son each trying to figure out how to be in the world. A Macmillan Audio production from Flatiron Books

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
  • The Cat Who Saved Books: A Novel
    The Cat Who Saved Books: A Novel
    The Cat Who Saved Books: A Novel

    Audiobook

    The Cat Who Saved Books: A Novel

    bySosuke Natsukawa

    AN INDIE NEXT PICK! From the #1 bestselling author in Japan comes a celebration of books, cats, and the people who love them, infused with the heartwarming spirit of The Guest Cat and The Travelling Cat Chronicles. Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookstore he inherited from his beloved bookworm grandfather. Then, a talking cat appears with an unusual request. The feline asks for—or rather, demands—the teenager’s help in saving books with him. The world is full of lonely books left unread and unloved, and the cat and Rintaro must liberate them from their neglectful owners.  Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey, where they enter different mazes to set books free. Through their travels, the cat and Rintaro meet a man who leaves his books to perish on a bookshelf, an unwitting book torturer who cuts the pages of books into snippets to help people speed read, and a publishing drone who only wants to create bestsellers. Their adventures culminate in one final, unforgettable challenge—the last maze that awaits leads Rintaro down a realm only the bravest dare enter . . .  An enthralling tale of books, first love, fantasy, and an unusual friendship with a talking cat, The Cat Who Saved Books is a story for those for whom books are so much more than words on paper.  Translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai. "Cats, books, young love, and adventure: catnip for a variety of readers!" –Kirkus

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • The Perishing
    The Perishing
    The Perishing

    Audiobook

    The Perishing

    byNatashia Deon

    A Black immortal in 1930s Los Angeles seeks to recover the memory of her past in this visionary novel from NAACP Image Award nominee Natashia Deón Lou, a young Black woman, wakes up in an alley in 1930s Los Angeles with no memory of how she got there or where she’s from. Taken in by a caring foster family, Lou dedicates herself to her education while trying to put her mysterious origins behind her. She’ll go on to become the first Black female journalist at the Los Angeles Times, but Lou’s extraordinary life is about to take an even more remarkable turn. When she befriends a firefighter at a downtown boxing gym, Lou is shocked to realize that though she has no memory of meeting him, she’s been drawing his face for years. Increasingly certain that their paths previously crossed—and beset by unexplainable flashes from different eras haunting her dreams—Lou begins to believe she may be an immortal sent here for a very important reason, one that only others like her can explain. Setting out to investigate the mystery of her existence, Lou must make sense of the jumble of lifetimes calling to her, just as new forces threaten the existence of those around her. Immersed in the rich historical tapestry of Los Angeles–Prohibition, the creation of Route 66, and the collapse of the St. Francis Dam—The Perishing is a stunning examination of love and justice through the eyes of one miraculous woman whose fate seems linked to the city she comes to call home.

    Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
    3/5
  • Look for Me and I'll Be Gone: Stories
    Look for Me and I'll Be Gone: Stories
    Look for Me and I'll Be Gone: Stories

    Audiobook

    Look for Me and I'll Be Gone: Stories

    byJohn Edgar Wideman

    *A Wall Street Journal Top 10 Best Book of the Year* From John Edgar Wideman, a modern “master of language” (The New York Times Book Review), comes a stunning story collection that spans a range of topics from Michael Jordan to Emmett Till, from childhood memories to the final day in a prison cell. In Look For Me and I’ll Be Gone, his sixth collection of stories, John Edgar Wideman imbues with energy and life the concerns that have consistently infused his fiction and nonfiction. How does it feel to grow up in America, a nation that—despite knowing better, despite its own laws, despite experiencing for hundreds of years the deadly perils and heartbreak of racial division—encourages (sometimes unwittingly, but often on purpose) its citizens to see themselves as colored or white, as inferior or superior. Never content merely to tell a story, Wideman seeks once again to create language that delivers passages like jazz solos, and virtuosic manipulations of time to entangle past and present. The story “Separation” begins with a boy afraid to stand alone beside his grandfather’s coffin, then wends its way back and forth from Pittsburgh to ancient Sumer. “Atlanta Murders” starts with two chickens crossing a road and becomes a dark riff, contemplating “Evidence of Things Not Seen,” James Baldwin’s report on the 1979–1981 child murders in Atlanta, Georgia. Comprised of fictions of the highest caliber and relevancy by a writer whose imagination and intellect “prove his continued vitality...with vigor and soul” (Entertainment Weekly), Look For Me and I’ll Be Gone will entrance and surprise committed Wideman fans and newcomers alike.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • She Wears the Mask
    She Wears the Mask
    She Wears the Mask

    Audiobook

    She Wears the Mask

    byShelly Stratton

    Gripping and moving, She Wears the Mask is a novel about two women from two very different worlds, both burdened with secrets from their pasts, who form an unexpected bond… 1950s Chicago: Angelique Bixby could be one of many fresh-faced sales girls working along the Magnificent Mile, but she’s unique. She’s a white woman married to a black man in 1950s Chicago, making her stand out among the tenements on the South Side where she lives. Despite the challenges the couple faces, they find comfort and strength in their love for one another. Angelique is content, as long as she has her Daniel by her side and their baby in her arms, until she loses them both—one to death and the other to dire circumstances. 1990s Washington, D.C.: Angelique Crofton is a woman of privilege. A rich, aging beauty and mother of a rising political star, she has learned to forget her tragic past. But now that she is facing her own mortality, she is finally ready to find the daughter she left behind, remember the young woman she once was, and unearth the bittersweet memories she had long ago buried. Jasmine Stanley is an ambitious lawyer—the only black woman at her firm. She is too busy climbing the corporate ladder to deal with her troublesome family or their unresolved issues. Tasked with Angelique’s case, Jasmine doesn’t know what to make of her new client—an old debutante with too much time and money on her hands. Jasmine eagerly accepts the challenge though, hoping if she finds Angelique’s long-lost daughter, it will impress the firm’s partners. But she doesn’t count on the search challenging her mentally and emotionally. Nor does she expect to form a friendship with Angelique, who is much more like her than she realizes—because Jasmine is harboring secrets, too.

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    5/5
  • The Sisters of Alameda Street: A Novel
    The Sisters of Alameda Street: A Novel
    The Sisters of Alameda Street: A Novel

    Audiobook

    The Sisters of Alameda Street: A Novel

    byLorena Hughes

    When Malena Sevilla's tidy, carefully planned world collapses following her father’s mysterious suicide, she finds a letter--signed with an “A”--that reveals that her mother, who she thought dead, is very much alive in San Isidro, a quaint town tucked in the Andes Mountains. Intent on meeting her, Malena arrives at Alameda Street and meets four sisters who couldn’t be more different from one another, but who share one thing in common: all of their names begin with an A. To avoid a scandal, Malena assumes another woman’s identity and enters their home to discover the truth. Could her mother be Amanda, the iconoclastic widow who opens the first tango nightclub in a conservative town? Ana, the ideal housewife with a less-than-ideal past? Abigail, the sickly sister in love with a forbidden man? Or Alejandra, the artistic introvert scarred by her cousin’s murder? But living a lie will bring Malena additional problems, such as falling for the wrong man and loving a family she may lose when they learn of her deceit. Worse, her arrival threatens to expose long-buried secrets and a truth that may wreck her life forever. Set in 1960s Ecuador, The Sisters of Alameda Street is a sweeping story of how one woman’s search for the truth of her identity forces a family to confront their own past.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
  • Sisters in Arms: A Novel of the Daring Black Women Who Served During World War II
    Sisters in Arms: A Novel of the Daring Black Women Who Served During World War II
    Sisters in Arms: A Novel of the Daring Black Women Who Served During World War II

    Audiobook

    Sisters in Arms: A Novel of the Daring Black Women Who Served During World War II

    byKaia Alderson

    Kaia Alderson’s debut historical fiction novel reveals the untold, true story of the Six Triple Eight, the only all-Black battalion of the Women’s Army Corps, who made the dangerous voyage to Europe to ensure American servicemen received word from their loved ones during World War II. Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may be from completely different backgrounds, but when it comes to the army, specifically the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), they are both starting from the same level. Not only will they be among the first class of female officers the army has even seen, they are also the first Black women allowed to serve.  As these courageous women help to form the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, they are dealing with more than just army bureaucracy—everyone is determined to see this experiment fail. For two northern women, learning to navigate their way through the segregated army may be tougher than boot camp. Grace and Eliza know that there is no room for error; they must be more perfect than everyone else. When they finally make it overseas, to England and then France, Grace and Eliza will at last be able to do their parts for the country they love, whatever the risk to themselves. Based on the true story of the 6888th Postal Battalion (the Six Triple Eight), Sisters in Arms explores the untold story of what life was like for the only all-Black, female U.S. battalion to be deployed overseas during World War II.

    Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
    4/5
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