5 Under-the-Radar BIPOC May Releases + The Best BIPOC Releases Out Today

If you don’t follow Amerie’s (yes, that Amerie) book club, you should definitely check it out. This month’s selection is Have You Been Long Enough At Table by Leslie Sainz, a poetry collection that looks at the Cuban American experience.

As for today’s books, I’ve got some bangin’ new releases — which includes a new rom-rom by Kevin Kwan of Crazy Rich Asians fame — and a couple other under-the-radar books that came out this month for you to read.

Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan

Kevin Kwan (Crazy Rich Asians) is back with another decadently funny romance with bougie boos. Rufus Leung Gresham is in a situation. You see, though he is the future Duke of Greshambury, there isn’t anything left in the Gresham Trust that hasn’t been eaten up by debt. His mom, a former supermodel trying to hold onto The Bag TM, is trying to get him in on her scheming. If he can find a wealthy (future) wife at his sister’s upcoming luxury wedding, maybe he can salvage things. While there are certainly eligible bachelorettes there, like a French hotel heiress and a venture capitalist extraordinaire, Rufus can’t stop thinking of his firmly middle-class neighbor Eden Tong. But all of the considerations for his future partner get put on hold when a volcano erupts during wedding events, and some of the family’s business gets aired out.

cover of Goddess of the River by Vaishnavi Patel

Goddess of the River by Vaishnavi Patel

Here’s another welcome entry into the female-characters-in-mythology-revisited subgenre that’s having a moment. Except, the river goddess Ganga is Hindu, and not from Greek mythology, like so many other modern retellings. Ganga is content, for a time, as she watches over the spirited baby gods who run up and down her river, but when they cause trouble for the wrong sage, it’s Ganga who is cursed to become mortal. Adapting to her new life, she marries King Shantanu and births a son, Devavrata. As she struggles to finally rid herself of the curse, she finds out she’ll have to give up her son. Then, it’s Devavrata who carries on the curse, and who unknowingly sets the world off on the course of war. As the years pass, their unique mother-and-son dynamic shapes the lives of so many.

cover of Cecilia by K-Ming Chang

Cecilia by K-Ming Chang

Y’all ready for something a little weird? Seven, a 24-year-old woman who does laundry at a chiropractor’s office, bumps into her homegirl from school, Cecilia…who’s also kind of the subject of her…extra secret fantasies. The intensity of Seven’s obsession with Cecilia starts Seven down a surreal path of eroticism and disembodiment.

cover of Grown Women by Sarai Johnson

Grown Women by Sarai Johnson

There’s a Biblical level of begetting in this debut novel that is at the crux of its story. Evelyn begets Charlotte, and Charlotte begets Corinna, who then finally begets Camille — Camille being the intelligent girl who offers her mother and mothers before her a shimmer of hope for the future. You see, there’s a lot of trauma wrapped up in these women’s familial bonds, and though there’s a chance to right past wrongs with Camille’s rearing, each woman doesn’t really know how to go about it. When Camille leaves the backwoods of Tennessee for D.C., she’ll have to decide whether she allows herself to be swallowed by all the women who came before could not be, but want her to be, or if she will move towards her own version of happiness.

cover of The Worst Ronin by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illustrated by Faith Schaffer

The Worst Ronin by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illustrated by Faith Schaffer

I’m so excited for this YA graphic novel. It follows 16-year-old Chihiro Ito, the daughter of a respected samurai and a samurai herself. Chihiro whiles away her days obsessing over Tatsuo Nakano, the first woman to be accepted to the prestigious Kesi Academy. When the chance arises to work alongside her idol on a mission to kill demons, she jumps at it, but the woman she finds disappoints her. Tastuo drinks too much, curses too much, and is just kind of an ass. She also gave up on the way of the samurai and is a lone ronin, moving from job to job as she runs from her grief. Despite their different ideologies, Chihiro and Tatsuo will have to find common ground long enough to work together and survive the conspiracies and dangers they face on their journey.

Don’t Miss These May Releases

As May comes to a close, make sure to add the books below to your TBR!

cover of Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung

Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung

In 1948, as Communism spreads through China and a civil war is underway, one landowning family is on the cusp of its own revolution. The Angs are wealthy, yes, but their lack of a male heir leads their four daughters — each with their own distinct personalities — and their abused mother to be abandoned by the rest of the family when things get too real. Without a son to punish, the oldest daughter, Hai, is made to stand trial for the sins of her family. The brutality of her torture leads Hai, her sisters, and their mother to plan a perilous journey to Taiwan, where they will have the chance to not only confront their trifling family but also forge new futures for themselves that are free of the gender norms that stifled them.

cover of Ghostroots: Stories by 'Pemi Aguda

Ghostroots: Stories by ‘Pemi Aguda

In this debut short story collection based in Lagos, Nigeria, characters seek freedom from the shackles of the past, not unlike the Daughters of Shandong. In 12 deliciously eerie stories, a woman bears an uncanny resemblance to a wicked but deceased grandmother, an architect comes across a house set on vengeance, and a girl gets kidnapped by the local market’s tomato seller.

For more new releases, check out our New Books newsletter and the New Release Index.

And, for great BIPOC lit recommendations, you can subscribe to our In Reading Color newsletter.

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