Red Hen Roundup: Feminist Books
By Lizzy Young
Here at Red Hen Press, we are proud that our catalog includes many titles authored by women. So we are taking Women’s History Month to celebrate some of our women authors and their books. First, we are kicking off the celebration by highlighting some incredible women-authored Red Hen titles with feminist themes. Keep reading to find your next great read for this month!
Animal Wife by Lara Ehrlich
Animal Wife is composed of fifteen stories unified by girls and women seeking liberation from family responsibilities, from societal expectations, from their own minds. They address the complexities of transitioning from innocence to experience and take on the anxiety of motherhood. The majority of the stories are set in an off-kilter version of our world, where the fantastical can exist side by side with — and reveal the absurdities of — the mundane. They often include monsters, mothers, and monstrous mothers.
The Walled Wife by Nicelle Davis
A woman is buried so a church will rise. Nicelle Davis’s The Walled Wife unearths from the long-standing text, The Ballad of the Walled-up Wife, a host of issues that continue to plague women in the contemporary world: the woman’s body as sacrifice; the woman’s body as tender or currency; the woman’s body as disposable; the woman’s body as property; the woman’s body as aesthetic object; the woman’s body unsafe in the world she must inhabit, and in the hands of the people she loves.
Confessions of a Barefaced Woman by Allison Joseph
The poems in Allison Joseph’s latest collection are smart, shameless, and empowered confessions of the best kind. In semi-autobiographical verse highlighting in turns light-hearted and harsh realities of modern black womanhood, these poems take the reader down “A History of African-American Hair,” visit with both Grace Jones and the Venus de Milo, send Janis Joplin to cheerleading camp, bemoan a treacherous first pair of high heels, and discuss “vagina business.” Funny, but never flippant, and always forthcoming about the author’s own flaws and foibles, Confessions of a Barefaced Woman is sure to keep readers entranced, entertained, and enlightened.
My Body is a Book of Rules by Elissa Washuta
As Elissa Washuta makes the transition from college kid to independent adult, she finds herself overwhelmed by the calamities piling up in her brain. When her mood-stabilizing medications aren’t threatening her life, they’re shoving her from depression to mania and back in the space of an hour. Her crisis of American Indian identity bleeds into other areas of self-doubt; mental illness, sexual trauma, ethnic identity, and independence become intertwined. Sifting through the scraps of her past in seventeen formally inventive chapters, Washuta aligns the strictures of her Catholic school education with Cosmopolitan‘s mandates for womanhood, views memories through the distorting lens of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and contrasts her bipolar highs and lows with those of Britney Spears and Kurt Cobain. Built on the bones of fundamental identity questions as contorted by a distressed brain, My Body Is a Book of Rules pulls no punches in its self-deprecating and ferocious look at human fallibility.
Circadian by Chelsey Clammer
Circadian is a collection of lyric essays that reach beyond personal narrative and exist in the vast landscape of curiosity and intrigue. With an astute attentiveness to language and form, Chelsey Clammer poetically weaves personal stories into the narratives of different–yet connecting–fields of study. Through this, she explores experiences of trauma, mental illnesses, and the rhythmic and oscillating desires for solitude and connection. Using math to figure out the problem of an alcoholic father, weather to re-consider trauma, the history of sexism and the facts of its lingual effects, anatomy as a way to process memories, and even grammar to question our identities, these “facts” don’t work as metaphors, but frameworks and forms that naturally circle around one another. Each essay in Circadian stands as a witness to the brilliant and destructive cycles that create our lives.
52 Men by Louise Wareham Leonard
From a writer whom master poet Seamus Heaney described as one who risks much both stylistically and emotionally comes 52 Men. Taut, spare, and highly compressed autobiographical fiction for the mobile age, it is immensely fully and sexually charged.
In contemporary literary miniatures from a few lines to a few pages, Manhattan-raised Elise McKnight describes the men in her life who gradually reveal her: high-profile cultural leaders, writers and celebrities, as well as the down-to-earth waiter, student, and police officer. Fifty-two strange, romantic, and sexual interludes and relationships spark to life and disappear in the wind, leaving us to wonder: What is Elise’s power? What does she want and will she ever get it? Does she have a secret, and if so, what is it?
With surprising, sometimes shocking and moving cameos by figures from tabloids and the news: Jay Carney, Jonathan Franzen, Lou Reed, Michael Stipe; and encounters with artists, financiers, and a boxer who reads Neruda at the Turkish baths.
The Question Authority by Rachel Cline
A woman re-encounters her childhood best friend and is forced to deal with the abuse they both experienced, but dealt with in very different ways.
Nora Buchbinder — formerly rich and now broke — would be the last woman in Brooklyn to claim #MeToo, but when a work assignment reunites her with her childhood best friend, Beth, she finds herself in a hall of mirrors. Was their eighth grade teacher Beth’s lover or her rapist? Where were the grown-ups? What should justice look like, after so much time has passed? And what can Nora do, now? Nora’s memories, and Beth’s, and those of their classmates, their former teacher, and members of his family, bring to light some of the ways we absorb and manage unbearable behavior. From denial to reinvention, self-pity to self-righteousness, endless questioning to intransigent certainty, readers will recognize the ripples sent into the lives of others by one broken man.
Livid by Cai Emmons
Sybil White Brown returns from Boston to the small West Coast city where she once lived, hoping to heal after a terrible loss. Summoned to jury duty, she is dismayed to be assigned to the jury of a murder trial alongside her ex-husband with whom she had a rancorous divorce. As the trial progresses, she and her ex tiptoe around each other but eventually become disastrously entangled. Meanwhile, Sybil obsesses about the female defendant, whom she believes is innocent. The situation explodes during jury deliberations when Sybil comes face-to-face with her own unexpressed rage.
Finally, our last title on this roundup of books with feminist themes is forthcoming this spring:
Aqueous by Jade Shyback. Preorder it today!
#1 Hot New Release on Amazon Canada in Dystopian Sci-Fi Books for Young Adults (11/16/2022)
From debut young adult novelist Jade Shyback comes the first in the Aqueous series. On the eve of Earth’s collapse, young Marisol Blaise is taken to live on an underwater mersation known as Aqueous with parents not her own. There, she must compete in the trials, grueling tests designed to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each trainee, hoping to be assigned to the all-male elite diving team known as the Cuviers. Desperate to prove to herself, the residents, and all of her parents, dead and alive, that she is worthy of this prestigious placement, she works tirelessly to shatter misogynistic beliefs, only to discover that it was not only the men who constrained her. A much uglier untruth exists.
We hope you enjoyed our roundup of women-authored titles with feminist themes. Order one (or five) to read this month!