We don't usually segregate male and female writers. We look for strong voices who talk about human experience: sometimes gendered, sometimes not. But there's no denying the sexism that still dominates publishing (exhibit A; exhibit B). There's also no denying the space made by the brilliant, determined and pioneering women who have come before us, from Jane Austen to Simone de Beauvoir and Alice Walker. To honor them and every woman putting brave words on the page, here's a rundown of the smartest, funniest and gutsiest fiction and nonfiction out this year.

Sour Heart, by Jenny Zhang

(coming out August 1)

via Website


Girls queens Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner's first acquisition with their new publishing imprint (part of Penguin Random House) is Brooklynite Jenny Zhang's debut short-story collection, which explores adolescence, immigrant life and family through the eyes of Chinese-American girls in New York City. Zhang is a National Magazine Award nominee who has previously published some remarkably spicy poetry and essays.

Preorder online.

 

Homesick for Another World, by Ottessa Moshfegh

via Website


Two years on from her debut hit novel, the Booker-Prize-short-listed Eileen, Moshfegh is back with a creepy and unnerving collection of short stories that are all too present-day and all too relatable to not enjoy and read in a heartbeat. The book hit shelves during a bleak-ass month, with a title chillingly on point with current world affairs.

Order online.

 

How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir, by Cat Marnell

via Website


This is kinda car-crash reading, reality TV in engrossing literary format. Entirely horrendous stories, completely brilliant storytelling from a fashion everywoman who, assisted by prescription pills, climbed the ranks at every glossy New York style magazine before collapsing at Condé Nast at a time when her personal drama was splashed all over the pages as entertainment. A compelling memoir from an astutely hilarious and honest young woman.

Order online.

 

The Answers, by Catherine Lacey

(Coming out June 6)

via Website


Most of the best stuff out this year is jarring and points at a scary and unpredictable future, not least as a reaction to our wobbly and corrosive current climate. Young graduates are struggling to find work, while an unhealthy obsession with both technology and, conflictingly, the wellness trend, makes for an erratic society. In this crazy page-turner, a young girl gets involved with dodgy internet-found jobs to pay for a hyped new health trend at a fashionable treatment center everyone’s talking about. A dazzling follow-up to Lacey’s impressive debut Nobody Is Ever Missing.

Preorder online.

 

South and West: From a Notebook, by Joan Didion

via Website


Some of Didion's best advice is actually etched in my brain and has been since I first read her books as a teenager. Now the icon is publishing a book that combines a journal she kept while road-tripping through the American South with her husband in 1970 and her "California Notes" of 1976. South and West offers a glimpse into Didion's mind and methods during an era of new freedom and expression. The notion of road-tripping automatically conjures images of Thelma and Louise, too, and is bound to get you excited for summer cruising — exploring the land safely and moving freely as a citizen of the world.


Order online.


By Alexandra Pereira

Alexandra currently lives in Berlin and loves anything rhubarb-themed, the smell of old book pages and loud shoe gaze. She has written music, art, film and opinion stories for lots of magazines, and she keeps a story blog. She loves to travel alone or with easygoing companions.