These Indie editors’ picks, which run the genre gamut—short stories, memoir, fantasy, poetry—cover road stories, addiction, dragons, murder, long odds, grace, gender fluidity, and oppressive political regimes. What they all have in common are women who are stalwart souls navigating various perils both real and imagined.
The Patron Saint of Lost Girls by Maureen Aitken:Aitken’s starred short story collection, set in 1960 and ’70s Detroit, follows an artist who’s struggling with a partner addicted to heroin, a terminally ill family member, and a city overwhelmed by violent crime. Our reviewer says, “Aitken doesn’t shy away from difficult topics in these snapshots; instead, she thrusts them boldly into view.”
Shift Happens: Breakdowns During Life’s Long Hauls by Margot Genger: “The memoir begins…in June 1977, when [Genger’s] fiance drunkenly stepped out of a moving pickup, fracturing his skull—an event that led her to realize that she ‘didn’t have to marry the lying, argumentative cokehead after all.’ Her tales of weird and wild characters, intimidating locations, robberies, and breakdowns are worthy of a picaresque novel.”
No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll:In this collection of fairy tales, “Mardoll creates a fictive world of dragons, witches, wicked royals, swordplay, and sorcery—and plot contrivances that hinge on seemingly sex-specific prophecies that get twisted into pretzels by characters’ gender nonconformity….[A] pattern of trans hero(in)es turning the tables on complacent gender assumptions continues throughout the winsome collection.”
Standing Above a Sigh by Azadeh Azad: In her cleareyed poetry collection, Azad draws on her own life as an emigrant from Iran to Canada and addresses, among other things, “emotional distance; exile and diaspora; the loss of a child; a friend’s suicide; and government oppression, particularly of women in Iran.”
Karen Schechner is the vice president of Kirkus Indie.