Duende District: FALL 2017 READING LIST
svetlana | Sep 8, 2017 | 10:30AM |

Duende District is the kind of business we wish there were a million more of: a fiercely independent bookseller, dedicated to popularizing PoC authors, and offering a highly inclusive and pleasurable experience to, well, EVERYONE.

Currently a mobile bookstore, Duende was founded by Angela Maria Spring, the daughter of Central and Latin American immigrants, with more than 16 years of bookstore experience (including Politics & Prose and McNally Jackson) and is popping up in Brookland’s A Creative DC studio starting today through September 17th.(details on the opening party are at the bottom of the article).

To celebrate – we asked the Duende team to share the books they’re most excited about this Fall. Their enthusiasm and selections bowled us over, like one big book bear hug.

READ MORE (& MORE INCLUSIVELY)!!!

Lets dig in:

It’s no coincidence when we put together Duende District’s Fall Favorites list, so many small publishers popped up with the freshest, most exciting voices and books out there. These presses are consistently cutting edge and ready to take a chance on an unknown author of color. So we’re excited to share our top Fall picks – get your read on! – Duende District

Novel

Simeon Marsalis, As Lie Is To Grin ($16.95, Paperback, Catapult, 9781936787593), Oct. 10, 2017

Simeon Marsalis’s debut, A Lie Is To Grin, has captured our crown for this Fall’s best novel with his lyrical voice and fresh take on the coming-of-age story. The University of Vermont is the backdrop for narrator David as he navigates his way through being black on a white college campus. The fact that he chose the alma mater of his former girlfriend’s grandfather, along with a singular lie he first told her about who he was, twists his journey toward unraveling his true identity.

Short Stories

Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body & Other Parties ($16, Paperback, Graywolf Press, 9781555977887) Oct. 3, 2017

Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body & Other Parties is hands-down our favorite book of 2017. Simultaneously playful, dark and hilarious, the cataclysmic power of Machado’s experimental stories lives in her masterful skill at showing the identities we all form as we are shaped by the fractured psyche that is American pop culture. From the first story, which weaves together all the urban legend horrors we absorbed as kids, to a woman going gothically mad and confronting her own darkness in a rural Pennsylvania writer’s residency, to setting an entire novella in made-up Law & Order SVU episodes, this is a book that is meant to be read over and over again to truly unwrap its surreal, brilliant layers.

Memoir

Myriam Gurba, Mean ($16.95, Paperback, Coffeehouse Press, 9781566894913), Nov. 14, 2017

Myriam Gurba is la chingona feroz of experimental memoir. Mean is a hybrid memoir-novel that centers on Gurba’s childhood growing up mixed race with a murder mystery slipped inside. Gurba is unapologetic in laying out her experiences with sexual violence, casual everyday racism, and embracing her queer identity. She breathes fire and Spanglish, batters you with her biting humor then buries you in truths you cannot look away from. Just when you think you’ve got this book figured out, Gurba will kick your feet from under you. This is how memoirs should always be written – with fierceness, brutal honesty and a wry smile cutting through it all.

Essays

Brando Skyhorse & Lisa Page, We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing In America ($18, Paperback, Beacon Press, 9780807078983) Oct. 10, 2017

Brando Skyhorse, author of 2010’s break-out novel The Madonnas of Echo Park, and Lisa Page compiled this powerful collection of essays exploring the myriad ways people from marginalized cultures or communities are taught by society, history, and even our own families, that the safest place to exist is “passing as” (white, straight, a different class). Featuring essays by some of the most influential writers today, such Margo Jefferson, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, Trey Ellis and M.G. Lord, as well as the editors themselves, this is a must-read.

Poetry

Eve L. Ewing, Electric Arches ($16, Paperback, Haymarket Books, 9781608468560) Sept. 12, 2017

Eve Ewing has created a sensory and poetic feast with her debut collection, Electric Arches. A gorgeous, sprawling collection of poetry, lyric prose, hand-written pieces and startling imagery, Ewing explores every facet of girlhood and the chaotic fierceness of becoming, the glorious embrace of black womanhood, of the intractable ties of family.
Ewing’s style is wholly unique and yet you can see the stamp of Lucille Clifton’s poetic power and refusal to bend even to language. Electric Arches is a powerful revelation.

BONUS: 5 Authors On the Rise

These are all debut or self-made authors on the cusp of mainstream popularity. Pick up their books and you can say you read them before everyone else caught a ride on their stars.

Elizabeth Acevedo, BeastGirl & Other Myths ($12, Paperback, YesYes Books, 9781936919451)

If you’ve been hanging around any social media lately or love Teen Vogue, you may have heard of Elizabeth Acevedo is coming out with a YA verse novel (The Poet X is due out from Harpercollins in 2018). The daughter of Dominican immigrants, Acevedo is a National Slam champion and her poetry performances are awe inspiring. Acevedo is a poet and writer to with enough fire and talent to set the world ablaze.

David Mitchell, We Hold These Truths ($19.99, Paperback, Project Z Books, 9780692720134)

David Mitchell is one of those people you meet and know, without a doubt, he is going to conquer anything he wants to and aren’t we lucky that he wants to take on the literary world. His debut novel, We Hold These Truths, features a motivated, focused recent law graduate, who is black, who joins a long-shot senate campaign in North Carolina shortly after Barack Obama’s 2008 victory and experiences the painful mutations of supposedly “post-racial” politics. This engaging, thoughtful work highlights the promise of Mitchell’s talent and hopefully we won’t have to wait long, as he’s at work on his second novel.

Solomon Rivers, An Unkindness of Ghosts ($15.95, Paperback, Akashic Books, 9781617755880) Oct. 3, 2017

Solomon Rivers may have their first book coming out next month, but they have been stirring up a buzz in the speculative fiction world, with comparisons to Octavia Butler and that is not to be taken lightly. Rivers has a fantastic storytelling voice and imagination needed in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre. An Unkindness of Ghosts is a tale set on the spaceship HSS Matilda, whose inner workings are akin to the antebellum South, with the protagonist, Aster, living in the lowdeck slums and finding a way to break the chains of her existence by sparking a rebellion.

Seema Yasmin, For Filthy Women Worried About Disappointing God ($12, Paperback, Diode Editions, 9781939728142)

Seema Yasmin is one of those mysterious, rare people who can write in almost any genre incredibly well. She’s an amazing journalist and poet, is working on publishing her first novel, and has a biography due out from Johns Hopkins University Press in June 2018. She and artist Fahmida Azim collaborated on a piece for The Dallas News called “Muslim Women Do Things,” which might well end up as a longer book. In case you weren’t already in awe of her, she’s a medical doctor and a disease detective. You should probably just drop what you’re doing and start following her immediately.

Marjuan Canady, Callaloo children’s book series ($5.99, Paperback, Sepia Works, 9780615951584)

Marjuan Canady is a joyous, inspiring force of nature with more talent and motivation in her little finger than most have in their whole bodies. She and partner Nabeeh Bilal have independently built a children’s entertainment empire with their signature character of Winston, a little boy from New York City, who has many adventures and loves callaloo, a Caribbean vegetable dish. Along with a Callaloo puppet show, honing her skills at the Sesame Street puppetry workshop and founding The Canady Foundation For the Arts, Canady is ready to break out in a big way.

WHERE TO FIND THE BOOKS?

Duende District opening reception at A Creative DC: Brookland! is tonight, 6-8PM with music, refreshments, art, and BOOKS. The pop-up bookstore will be open from 10AM until 8PM that day, and Duende District is donating 20% of all opening day sales to The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, in support of DACA.
The pop up will stay open through Sept 17th.