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Even in the year of our lord 2022—and I, too, cannot believe we're already in 2022—much of what we consider literary canon is dominated by men. Per the VIDA Count, the overwhelming majority of literary publications mostly highlighted books by men in 2019 (the last year for which we have data). And per Nielson in collaboration with The Guardian, men are "disproportionately unlikely even to open a book by a woman." Which brings me to this: We need to be talking about books by women, not just to close the literary gender gap, but also because so very many books by women are so damn good. So, let's start with this: a round-up of the best fiction by women and non-binary authors coming out in 2022, just in case you needed something to look forward to. (And, let's face it, who among us doesn't?)
[Editor's note: We've taken a cue from VIDA Count here to consider non-binary "an umbrella term which includes people who are nonbinary, agender, genderqueer, gender nonconforming, two-spirit, or another identity outside of the gender binary."]
Part sci-fi, part dreamy drama, ‘The House Between Earth and the Moon’ follows the residents of Parallaxis—a luxury space station developed by tech giant Sensus—as they try to build a home for billionaires to escape Earth's increasing inhospitality. Meanwhile, the people they leave back home—particularly the family of Alex, a researcher seeking to create a carbon-guzzling algae—are struggling with both their present and futures.
Some of the best contemporary fiction is YA, and ‘All My Rage’ is one of the strongest new examples. This moving—and at times devastating—book follows best friends Noor and Salahudin as Sal tries to save his family’s motel and Noor tries to strike out on her own.
Described as a refreshingly modern 'Sex and the City,' 'Wahala,' the buzzy debut novel from Nikki May, follows three Anglo-Nigerian best friends in London whose dynamic is shattered by a fourth addition to the group. I read it in a single sitting.
Most books about serial killers focus exclusively on the murderer and their acts. Not ‘Notes on an Execution,’ which centers several women who are not victims nor co-conspirators of fictional serial killer Ansel Packer. Anything but gratuitous, this beautifully written book does overtime as a suspense-driven mediation on the true crime industry.
Taking inspiration from the Anna Delveys of the world, ‘Cover Story’ is a delicious read about a young intern who gets caught up in a breathtakingly opulent—if claustrophobic—scheme (or four). No spoilers here, but I’m still thinking about that ending.
This frank and moving debut by Jean Chen Ho, told in short stories from differing eras and perspectives, follows a pair of Taiwanese American best friends as they navigate grief, ambition, and the changing realities of their friendship.
Like ‘A House Between Earth and the Moon,’ this thoughtful novel asks jarring questions about our future with real emotional depth. Frida is a doting mother to her daughter Harriet, until she makes a single mistake—and suddenly, the government is debating whether she’s a candidate for a terrifying tech-driven program that measures what makes a “good” or “bad” parent…and if Frida “deserves” to keep her child.
This layered family drama by debut author Jendella Benson follows Glory Akindele, a prodigal daughter who returns to London from L.A. to find her family shattered. Glory's journey to put them back together leads her to question everything she believed about them.
Yanagihara is set to be one of the literary greats of our generation, and her third novel shows exactly why. You'll lose yourself in this sweeping epic that's really three novels in one—which, told together, tell an unforgettable story about the American experiment.
A shot of joy in book form, 'When You Get the Chance' follows Millie, a lovable Broadway wannabe on a search for her birth mom—using her dad's old LiveJournal. Big-hearted and bursting with emotion, you'll devour this coming-of-age story.
The new YA thriller by Jessica Goodman—whose debut, 'They Wish They Were Us,' is in development as an HBO Max series—is about an elite summer camp rocked by a sudden death. Told with Goodman's signature sense of place, 'The Counselors' is a delicious and layered thrill ride.
The best books about grief find a way to illuminate the darkness of loss, and 'Remarkably Bright Creatures' offers a masterclass. Van Pelt's debut follows Tova, a woman shattered by the death of her husband and disappearance of her son, who forms an unlikely bond with a giant octopus at the aquarium where she works.
If you loved Yellowjackets, you'll be obsessed with fomer Marie Claire editor Colleen McKeegan's debut—a coming-of-age thriller about a long-ago summer camp secret that threatens to destroy Amanda Brooks's life. Read an excerpt.
In Hariri-Kia's captivating first novel, aspiring writer Noora believes she's hit the jackpot when she's hired as the assistant to Loretta James, editor-in-chief of Vinyl—the magazine that practically raised Noora. But the job that a hundred other girls would die for comes with some...complications, like the dramatic stand-off between the print and digital teams, Loretta's unhinged demands, and Noora's crush on Vinyl's hot IT guy, to name a few. You'll love this insightful—and incredibly fun—deep-dive into media and sisterhood.
Perfect for book clubs, Erlick's The Measure is equal parts charming and thought-provoking. It takes a philosophical question—what if everybody on earth knew exactly how long they had left to live?—and explores, with compassion and pragmatism, how the implications would trickle down into every area of modern life, from politics to intimacy.
Jennifer Weiner is back with the third edition of her loosely interlinked 'Summer' books, all of which are set on Cape Cod and all of which are, in a word, delightful. 'The Summer Place' is about a wedding on the Cape that, as it draws nearer, forces several family members to face long-buried secrets. As with everything Jennifer Weiner, the characters are sketched so vividly and with so much empathy that you'll miss them long after the last page.
Of all the books I've read in 2022, this is the one I was saddest to finish. Obuobi's sharply written protagonist, Angie Appiah, jumps off the page: the third-year medical student is complex, type-A, and very, very funny. Part rom-com, part coming-of-age story, Obuobi traces Angie's journey as she navigates the changing demands of friendships, the expectations of med school, the demands of her Ghanaian parents, and the untimely arrival of an extremely sexy graphic designer. Did I mention this debut has close to five stars on Goodreads across the board?
Sheila Yasmin Marikar's debut dives head-first into the dark side of wellness and the promise of one's quote-unquote "best self." Anita flees New York for sun-drenched LA, where she stumbles across an elite workout class, the Goddess Effect, run by the dazzling Venus, that promises to upgrade everything about her life. But as Anita gets deeper into the world of the Goddess Effect, she realizes that nothing about Venus and her "class" is what it seems.
Nobody does a rom-com like Lindsey Kelk, and 'On a Night Like This' is up there with her best. It's hard not to fall in love with Fran and her Cinderella-inspired adventure: In a matter of days, Fran is whisked from gray London to a celebrity-packed yacht in the Mediterranean, where Fran hits it off with a guest she never expects to see again. As with all Kelk's books, you'll feel like Fran's friends are yours—and you'll laugh a lot.
Jenny is the Director of Content Strategy at Marie Claire. Originally from London, she moved to New York in 2012 to attend the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and never left. Prior to Marie Claire, she spent five years at Bustle building out its news and politics coverage. She loves, in order: her dog, goldfish crackers, and arguing about why umbrellas are fundamentally useless. Her first novel, EVERYONE WHO CAN FORGIVE ME IS DEAD, will be published by Minotaur Books in 2024.
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