Ilana Masad

On Jan. 6, rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol building and disrupted democracy in action — in the name of saving the United States of America, so-called land of the free, from an election that was not stolen, as they claimed, but free and fair.

Nadia Owusu has lived many lives.

She's been the privileged child of a UN agency employee, ferried to school and back by chauffeurs while civil wars brewed outside walled compounds guarded by young men, where women called house girls cleaned and cooked for expats.

She's been a world traveler, experiencing life in Tanzania, England, Italy, Ethiopia, Uganda, and finally the United States, all before she turned 20.

She's witnessed and experienced the aftershocks of colonialism in several nations.

A bestiary is, traditionally, a compendium of beasts, both real and mythical. It's fitting, then, that K-Ming Chang's debut novel is titled Bestiary, for it too is a compendium of real and mythical beasts — some human, some animal, most a bit of both — that roam through a family's lineage and the stories its members tell each other from one generation to another. Everything is alive in their stories: The ground grows mouths, rivers become women, roads become rivers, crabs give birth to girlchildren, trees get up and march off in search of lost loves.

Melissa Faliveno exists in liminal spaces, but her debut essay collection Tomboyland opens and ends in the landscapes that shaped her: Mount Horeb, the small town (or, technically, village) that she grew up in — the stretch of hills called the Blue Mounds, and southwestern Wisconsin more broadly.

Anyone who has ever heard me talk about being a book critic (whether by choice or as an innocent, no-doubt-extremely-bored bystander) knows that I am passionate about this work and take it extremely seriously. It's rare that I begin reviews so self-consciously, but since The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine spends some time on the relationship between artist and critic and audience, I can't help but be especially aware of Tomine potentially reading these words.

Drug addiction continues to be wildly misunderstood and deeply stigmatized in the United States.

If the 22 stories ("& Other Revenges") that make up Amber Sparks's newest collection, And I Do Not Forgive You, were a mix tape, or mix CD, or more contemporarily, a playlist, it would be the kind you'd listen to after a breakup. But also the type you'd sing along with while driving on a perfect summer afternoon. Or that you'd put on late at night, curled up next to your best friend, sharing headphones and a mattress and each other's warmth.

It is written in the oldest legends that all are born in prison. This prison is all they know. Literature describes life in it. Religion hints at redemption from it. Having lived here all their lives, humans have ceased to see it as a prison.

The title of Kiley Reid's debut, Such a Fun Age, works on so many levels it makes me giddy — and, what's better, the title's plurality of meaning is echoed all over the place within the novel, where both plot and dialogue are layered with history, prejudice, expectations, and assumptions. The title's "fun age" might refer to one of the two main characters, Emira Tucker, a 25-year-old black woman who keenly feels that working part-time as a babysitter and part-time as a typist doesn't count as true adulting.

What makes us who we are? Suppose that Theseus, the mythical founder and king of Athens, was survived by his famous, battle-tested ship, and that someone with a sense of history or enterprise placed it in a museum. Over time, the materials the ship was built of would begin to decay, and the museum curator might reinforce an old board there, or place a new screw here; replace this beam for a better-polished one and that figurehead with a more illustrative replica. Eventually, the ship will be made of entirely new parts — is it then the same ship, this thought experiment asks?

Robert Harris' novels have often looked at the complex workings of powerful people and institutions, with Fatherland (1992) and The Ghost (2007) being perhaps the most prominent examples.

In an interview with ArabLit this year, critic Hend Saeed asked Kuwaiti author Saud Alsanousi about what his Western readers might lose in translation. "Dealing with the Western reader isn't easy if we take into consideration what they don't know about us, by which I mean the Kuwaiti culture in particular," Alsanousi said. He added, "That puts a huge burden and responsibility on me, when I write and present my local culture and heritage."

When I first googled the term "Malabar Brodeur," what came up was not, as I'd expected, her many New York Times columns or cookbooks, but rather a marriage announcement from March 17, 1974:

In the second episode of 1619, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones' New York Times-produced podcast, she interviews sociologist Matthew Desmond about the ways in which the institution of slavery in the United States both drove and was driven by economic concerns.

Stieg Larsson is most widely known in the U.S. as the author of the Millennium series. But long before writing his thrillers, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which were published posthumously, Larsson was a journalist, an independent researcher and an activist seeking to expose the danger of white-nationalist, right-wing extremist, and neo-Nazi groups in Sweden.