Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer
In Reading Color

New BIPOC Releases and Short Story Collections

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Erica Ezeifedi

Associate Editor

Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack. Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

The first of May is tomorrow, and I want to know who to ask for a refund for the first quarter of 2024, because where did it go?! Like, for real.

Though, with the new month comes AAPI History Month, and a slew of new releases I’m excited about, which makes up for things a bit.

Get ready for an exploration of race and class through one 15-year-old boy and his messy family dynamics, a mystery/thriller by Kellye Garrett, and a couple not-as-new collections I wanted to highlight in case you just want a nibble here and there of a story.

Real Americans Cover

Real Americans by Rachel Khong

On the precipice of Y2K, 22-year-old daughter of Chinese immigrants and unpaid intern Lily Chen meets the easy-going and affluent Matthew. Though the two fall in love, by the time 2021 comes around, 15-year-old Nick Chen is living with his single mother, Lily, and sets out to find his biological father in this tale of class, family, and identity.

cover image Missing White Woman

Missing White Woman by Kellye Garrett

Imagine you’re on the last day of a well-deserved vacation, and when you walk down the stairs of the four-story luxury rowhouse in Jersey City that you rented, you’re greeted by a woman whom you’ve never seen…and she’s lying dead on the floor. What’s more, she’s the white lady whose missing case has caught the eye of the general public, and the implications of her being found in the same house as you, a young Black woman, are troubling, to say the least. That — in addition to a missing boyfriend and mounting suspicion surrounding herself — is exactly what Breanna has to deal with. Eventually, she realizes she’ll have to investigate things herself if the truth is to be revealed.

cover of Disability Intimacy: Essays on Love, Care, and Desire, edited by Alice Wong

Disability Intimacy: Essays on Love, Care, and Desire, edited by Alice Wong

Leading disability activist Alice Wong has edited another collection of essays that center the disabled experience. Here, a plethora of disabled writers hone in on experiencing intimacy, which includes sex, but also community and caregiving.

cover of Bite by Bite: Nourishments and Jamborees Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Bite by Bite: Nourishments and Jamborees by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

With Bite by Bite, the author of World of Wonders is gifting us a collection of essays about how food is inherently tied to our memories and emotions. From shaved ice to rambutan to lumpia, what we eat and drink can summon feelings of joy, grief, and nostalgia, just as it carves out ethnic boundaries. Nezhukumatathil also looks at what it means for the environment for us to consume food, and the ethics involved with gathering it.

cover of A Magical Girl Retires Park Seolyeon, translated by Anton Hur

A Magical Girl Retires by Park Seolyeon, translated by Anton Hur

We love a subverted genre over here, and A Magical Girl Retires looks at the magical girl genre through a decidedly depressed millennial lens. That is to say that the magical girl in Seolyeon’s tale starts off up to her eyeballs in debt after having lost her job during the pandemic. When she attempts suicide, she’s interrupted by Ah Roa, a girl in all white who is looking for the greatest magical girl of all time, and Seolyeon’s protagonist just might be her. Now that she has some hope for the future as a magical girl, the young woman charges forward but is met with the unpleasant surprises that come with magical girlhood. Turns out it’s a lot of work. Magical girls go to job fairs, need unions, and have to learn stuff in classes. On top of all that, your girl still has low self-esteem. And, in true millennial fashion, her magic wand is a credit card, and her big bad monster enemy is climate change.

I’m going to leave y’all with a direct line from the blurb for this one because it tickled my nostalgia: “A Magical Girl Retires reminds us that we are all magical girls — that fighting evil by moonlight and winning love by daylight can be anyone’s game.”

Very Sailor Moon-coded.

Book Recs: Short Story Collections

After Parties by Anthony Veasna So

Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So

The stories here can be extremely odd or endearing — or both! They follow the lives of Cambodian Americans, some of whom were born in the U.S., and some who have brought memories of the Khmer Rouge genocide with them. The refugees of Afterparties adapt to new lives in California while their children try to forge their own identities, contending with sexuality, race, and community along the way.

cover of tangleroot palace by marjorie liu

The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie M. Liu

Women and queer people fight for agency, belonging, and love in a world full of hoodoo, body-stealing witches, and Amish vampires. The magic here gets real, and the dangerous women who wield it get even realer. The first story, for example, is about a girl in Kentucky who has no family and has to murder men with hoodoo because of the witch who threatens to take her soul. Sis is…going through a lot. Liu’s writing is lush, and this collection, which ends with a novella, feels like an update on the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Bookish Goodies

Matcha Boba Magnetic Bookmark

I love matcha and bubble tea and collecting bookmarks, so this lil thing is perfect. $5

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your thoughts on what kind of content you’d be interested in for the future. Also, don’t forget to become a paid subscriber, as it helps us to keep doing what we’re doing.

Please reach out to me if it’s on your spirit. I am still on the bird app (@erica_eze_), but you can also find me on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next time,

Erica

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