★The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
A 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers is a poignant novel of the AIDS epidemic that follows a Chicago-based group of friends who are contending with the rise of the disease in the 1980s. Yale Tishman is planning a major art show, but his success is overshadowed by the deaths that are sweeping through the gay community. As he weathers the loss of colleagues and companions, his closest confidante is Fiona, the sister of his late friend Nico. Thirty years later, Fiona is searching for her daughter, Claire, in Paris. Her relationship with Claire is a fraught one, and Fiona struggles to make sense of it while continuing to process the heartbreak of the epidemic. Makkai skillfully connects the plotlines of the past and present, exploring the fears and misconceptions connected to the epidemic and demonstrating their impact on her characters. Filled with larger-than-life personalities, Makkai’s wise and compassionate novel bears witness to an important era.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Ayoola has a habit of dispatching her boyfriends, and she relies on her sister, Korede, to help her tidy up after each murder. Braithwaite’s multilayered, darkly funny novel explores the power of desire and female agency.
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
Tokarczuk, one of Poland’s most beloved writers, tackles identity, travel and the nature of home in these breathtaking short essays and stories.
Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy by Anne Boyd Rioux
Rioux provides insights into the life of Louisa May Alcott and the writing of Little Women, examining the novel’s enduring appeal and its contemporary significance.
The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Schumacher
Schumacher’s satirical take on academia—its complexities and insular nature—feels spot on, and she offers an appealing protagonist in Jason Fitger, a long-suffering English professor.