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5 powerful books by 5 powerful Southern California women writers

It’s a happy accident that the five books I’m looking forward to reading this spring are all by women, and an even happier one that this column coincides with Women’s History Month:
The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker – San Diego hometown girl, UCLA alum, and New York Times bestselling author.
In her previous novel, “The Age of Miracles,” Walker imagines a world where the days and nights are inexplicably growing longer while her young protagonist, Julia, is experiencing her own off-kilter experience of adolescence. Walker’s new novel has a similar theme: Inexplicably, the residents of a small Southern California college town are falling asleep, and they don’t wake up. The only clue to this mysterious illness is that the sleepers are experiencing unusually high levels of brain activity that suggest heightened dreams. Vogue, Huffington Post, Real Simple, and BuzzFeed all called Walker’s second novel one of the most anticipated books of 2019, and I’m not surprised. Walker has an exquisite ability to imagine near-future dystopian circumstances that illuminate the provocative reality of the human experience. (Out now)
“The Dreamers” by Karen Thompson Walker (courtesy of Random House)
“Finding Dorothy” by Elizabeth Letts (courtesy of Random House)
Sound The gallery will resume in seconds “The Other Americans” by Laila Lalami (courtesy of Random House)
“The City in the Middle of the Night” by Charlie Jane Anders (courtesy of MacMillan)
“Magical Negro” by Morgan Parker (courtesy of Tin House)
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The Other Americans by Laila Lalami – Critically acclaimed novelist, Pulitzer-Prize finalist, American Book Award-winner, Los Angeles Times critic-at-large, Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, and UC Riverside creative writing professor.
Lalami’s newest novel tells the story of Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant in California killed by a speeding car while crossing the street. Lalami introduces an extraordinary cast of characters, each connected to the event in some way, as this family saga and murder mystery are woven to reveal a tapestry of immigration and “other” in America. The book has received rave reviews from the likes of Roxane Gay, J.M. Coetzee, and Viet Thanh Nguyen, and it was named one of the most anticipated books for 2019 by Entertainment Weekly, The Boston Globe, and New York Magazine/Vulture. It’s also received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist. (Out March 26)
The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders – Award-winning novelist (Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Lambda Literary Award); prolific short story writer (Tin House, Monkey Bicycle, and Boston Review, to name a few); organizer of the monthly San Francisco reading series Writers with Drinks; publisher, along with Annalee Newitz, of the magazine other; and the creator of the Ballerina Pie Fight — and yeah, it’s exactly what you think it is.
That’s a lot about the author and not a lot about the book, but imagine a tale of a dying planet and its reluctant young revolutionary, Sophie, told by the person I just described and you’ll see why this novel is compelling enough to be named one of Book Riot’s Most Anticipated Books of 2019. (Out now)
Magical Negro by Morgan Parker – Author of “There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé” (a Time magazine Best Paperback of 2017) among others; National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship recipient; Pushcart-Prize winner; writer for The Paris Review, Best American Poetry, The New York Times, and The Nation; creator and host of Reparations, Live! at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, and an Angeleno.
Wry. Intelligent. Lyrical. Urgent. Atmospheric. Profound. These are just some of the adjectives used to describe this important book of poetry about black womanhood that Publishers Weekly awarded a starred review. (Out now)
Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts – New York Times bestselling author whose writing career was inspired in part by Mrs. Barclay, the children’s librarian at Malaga Cove Library in Palos Verdes.
Letts imagines the life of Maud Gage Baum, wife of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” author Frank Baum, taking the reader back to 1938 and Hollywood’s production of her late husband’s masterpiece. Seventy-seven-year-old Maud — the daughter of a suffragette and one of the first women in the Ivy League — is determined to ensure that the film’s producers stay true to the spirit of the real secrets behind it which only she knows. Letts started writing at the age of 40 with much success: two New York Times bestsellers and a BookPage starred review for this newest book. (Out now)

This eclectic list of accomplished women celebrates the rich diversity of California authors and the power of the female voice offering us the perfect reading list for Women’s History Month.

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