During Women’s History Month, we honor the contributions of women who have gone before, but we also celebrate the work that women are creating now. These female authors are going places, and we can’t wait to follow them.
Dawnie Walton, author of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
37 Ink • March 30
Walton splits the difference between Taylor Jenkins Reid and James McBride with her debut novel, an oral history about a 1970s rock ’n’ roll duo. With stints at Essence, Entertainment Weekly and Getty Images on her resumé, as well as a handful of fellowships and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where her thesis adviser was Ayana Mathis, Walton’s going to be big, no question.
Lauren Hough, author of Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing
Vintage • April 13
Before her HuffPost essay “I Was a Cable Guy. I Saw the Worst of America.” went viral in 2019, Hough was an Air Force airman, a bouncer, a member of a cult and many other things. In April, she’ll add another identity to her roster—author—with a debut book that combines all of her fragmented lives into one impossible-to-ignore volume.
Michelle Zauner, author of Crying in H Mart
Knopf • April 20
Fans of the band Japanese Breakfast may already know Zauner, its frontwoman, for her skill as a lyricist who captures subjects like trauma, sexuality and grief in ways that are both frank and tender. In 2018, Zauner revealed herself to be a skilled prose writer, too, when The New Yorker published the essay “Crying in H Mart” about Zauner’s relationship to her Korean heritage following her mother’s death. Zauner’s debut memoir, which expands on this premise, will showcase her talents to an even wider audience, and we can promise that this is excellent news.
Elissa Washuta, author of White Magic
Tin House • April 27
As the author of two previous memoirs and co-editor of Shapes of Native Nonfiction, a critically acclaimed anthology of contemporary Native essayists, Washuta has already made a name for herself as an undeniable cultural critic and artist. Her third book, White Magic, about rediscovering the power and magic of Indigenous spiritual traditions (among other things), confirms this reputation, and then some. It’s unlike any other book out there and will certainly launch Washuta’s meteoric rise.
Lilly Dancyger, author of Negative Space
Santa Fe Writer’s Project • May 1
A contributing editor and creative writing instructor at Catapult, the editor of the 2019 anthology Burn It Down and a prolific essayist, Dancyger has been a fixture within the narrative nonfiction scene for years. With Negative Space, chosen by Carmen Maria Machado as a winner of the 2019 Santa Fe Writer’s Project Literary Awards, Dancyger will burst onto the scene as a memoirist for the first time, no doubt to a resounding round of applause.
Claire Fuller, author of Unsettled Ground
Tin House • May 18
Sometimes it’s the slowest growers that have the strongest roots. A former sculptor who began writing at the age of 40, Fuller’s been quietly cultivating a devoted following throughout the publication of three previous psychologically sharp novels. Her fourth novel is the tale of two 50-something twins in contemporary rural England whose lives spiral after their mother dies. It’s a dark tale, no doubt—but if you’re a reader who lives for contemplative storytelling and perfectly wrought characters, this author is for you.
Kristen Arnett, author of With Teeth
Riverhead • June 1
If you love a bit of irreverence with your heartbreak, now is the time to join our fan club for academic librarian and writer Arnett. It’s only through a steady stream of hilarity from the author’s Twitter account that we’ve been able to survive the two years since her bestselling debut novel, Mostly Dead Things, which swooped in with its uniquely dark comedy to explore grief with tenderness and courage. Queer family dynamics are at the heart of Arnett’s follow-up, and the buzz is building.
Ashley C. Ford, author of Somebody’s Daughter
Flatiron • June 1
Y’all know Ashley C. Ford? If not, you’re about to. She’s already been on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list, Brooklyn Magazine’s Brooklyn 100 list and Time Out New York’s New Yorkers of the Year list—and that was all before she’d even published a book. In June, Ford’s debut memoir about reconnecting with her incarcerated father will enter the world at last, and her list of accolades—not to mention her fanbase—is sure to grow.
Tasha Suri, author of The Jasmine Throne
Orbit • June 8
Suri’s beautifully written and effortlessly absorbing debut, Empire of Sand, won rave reviews from fellow fantasy authors such as S.A. Chakraborty and R.F. Kuang, and its Mughal India-inspired setting gratified fans hungry for non-Eurocentric fantasy. This summer Suri will start a new trilogy with The Jasmine Throne, in which a captive princess and a maidservant who is secretly a powerful priestess team up to take down a dictator.
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, author of The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
Harper • July 27
History and poetry met at the table of Jeffers’ The Age of Phillis, where, after 15 years of research, the writer played host to the story of Phillis Wheatley, America’s first published Black female poet. Jeffers, who has five poetry collections to her name, is turning to prose in perhaps the most exciting poet-becomes-novelist shift of the year, with a family saga that stretches from the Colonial slave trade to contemporary times.
Walton photo © Rayon Richards; Zauner photo © Barbora Mrazkova; Washuta photo © KR Forbes); Fuller photo © Adrian Harvey; Arnett photo © Maria Jones; Ford photo © Heather Sten; Suri photo © Shekhar Bhatia