The 9 New Books To Know This Week Tackle Rape Culture, Racism & Mass Incarceration

It's been over half a century since Zora Neale Hurston died, but the author of Their Eyes Were Watching God isn't done making waves in the literary world quite yet. On May 8, Barracoon, a nonfiction book she began writing in 1927 hits bookstores.

Barracoon isn't the only new book by a famous female author to add to your TBR pile this week. An anthology edited by Roxane Gay about rape culture just hit shelves, as did the new book from two-time National Book Award finalist Rachel Kushner and the debut novel from poet and essayist Melissa Broder. But these are just a few of the phenomenal works out this week — there's light-hearted royal romances, tough takes on campus rape culture, and searing, heart-wrenching tales of family, mental illness, and identity.

Aside from these books, there's heartwrenching refugee stories, searing and challenging takes on campus rape culture, tales of family, identity, and mental health, and even a light-hearted royal romance, for when the world — and the books we read — are a little too overwhelming to bear. Whatever you hope to read this book, there's a new book for you:

'Not That Bad' edited by Roxane Gay

This anthology of essays about rape, sexual assault, and harassment was edited by Roxane Gay and contains essays by everyone from actress Gabrielle Union to writer Amy Joy Burns. Wrenching in its honesty and pain, Not That Bad is a necessary addition to the canon of literature on the subject of dismantling rape culture.

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'Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now' by Dana L. Davis

When Tiffany's mom dies, she moves in with the dad she's never known — a strict man with four other daughters. As Tiffany struggles to adjust to her new environment and her mom's death, she must also grapple with a powerful secret: another man claims to be her real father, and she has seven days to figure out what to do.

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'Tradition' by Brendan Kiely

How can white men use their privilege to dismantle rape culture? Brendan Kiely unpacks that challenging but incredibly important question in this YA novel about two teens — a boy and a girl — who embark on a mission to topple the culture of abuse and silence at their boarding school.

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'The Pisces' by Melissa Broder

As the cover indicates, this is a book about a woman falling in love with... a merman. But, the story dives deeper than that. It's a tale as old as time: a young-ish woman is lost in her career, her friendships, and her life-path, and thus seeks validation in her romances. When those inevitably fall apart, she has to confront where her life is really going.

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'Royals' by Rachel Hawkins

The world is a bad place right now. The news is overwhelming. The weather is unpredictable, at best. But at least we have the Royal Wedding — one pure day of love and excess and joy. If you want to pre-game the festivities, pick up Royals by Rachel Hawkins, a dreamy YA romance about a 16-year-old Floridian whose entire life changes when her older sister gets engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland and she gets thrown into the world of the royals.

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'The Mars Room' by Rachel Kushner

A nuanced, searing look at life inside a women's prison, The Mars Room isn't just one story, but many, and it'll change your perspective on what it means to be in prison — and how women end up there in the first place.

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'The Map of Salt and Stars' by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

This novel circles two different girls in two different times: one a medieval apprentice to a mapmaker, the other is a modern-day Syrian refugee. But despite the time between them, these two girls are on heartbreakingly similar journeys.

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'Motherhood' by Sheila Heti

It seems like the choice whether or not you want to have kids should be an easy one, right? Either you want them... or you don't. But what if it... isn't? In Motherhood, Sheila Heti explores that seemingly simple question with two equally life-changing answers.

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'Baracoon' by Zora Neale Hurston

In 1927, Their Eyes Were Watching God author Zora Neale Hurston interviewed the last known surviver of the Transatlantic slave trade. This week, the book that resulted from her interview and subsequent research was finally published as Barracoon. Though she's best known for her novels, Hurston was also passionate in her research of African-American culture, and this book proves her to be a multidimensional writer of boundless talent.

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