The Southern Bookseller Review: Celebrating Women’s Voices

The Southern Bookseller Review: Black Voices February, 2022

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March, 2022

Celebrating Women’s Voices


The special edition of The Southern Bookseller Review celebrates the lives and words of women.

“You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.” -Shonda Rhimes

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The best of southern publishing…

Under the Golden Sun by Jenny Ashcroft


Under the Golden Sun by Jenny Ashcroft
St. Martin’s Press / March 2022


Quite simply one of the most beautiful books I’ve read all year. Historical fiction with well-drawn heroines and interesting love stories aren’t uncommon. What makes this book absolutely sing is the care and attention given to all the relationships in this book. The mother who has lost her child and the child who has lost his family; women forging deep, meaningful friendships that are treated with the same importance as the romantic entanglements; and perhaps even better, everyone grows. In a field cluttered with WWII era novels this book rises about the field with its unusual setting and lovely relationships, but also with the author’s distinct voice and prose.

Reviewed by Traci Harris, The Book House, Mableton, Georgia

Jenny Ashcroft Photo Credit: David Myers Photography

About the Author:
Jenny Ashcroft is a British author of historical fiction, including Meet Me in Bombay, Beneath a Burning Sky and Island in the East. She lives in East Sussex with her family and is hard at work on her next novel.

The Wonders by Elena Medel


The Wonders by Elena Medel
Algonquin Books / March 2022

I absolutely loved this English-language debut from Spanish writer Elena Medel. The conceit of jumping between the past and present is sometimes tricky to pull off, but Medel does it so well – letting María and Alicia’s respective timelines waltz gently together, anchored in the captivating central character that is the city of Madrid…until it all comes to a head. Medel’s pacing is thriller-esque, while her prose is sumptuous and elegant, beautifully translated by Lizzie Davis and Thomas Bunstead

Reviewed by Charles Lee, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, North Carolina

Elena Medel Photo Credit Laura C. Vela

About the Author:
Elena Medel is a Spanish poet and the founder and publisher of La Bella Varsovia, an independent poetry publishing house. Medel was the first woman ever to win the prestigious Francisco Umbral Prize, for her debut novel The Wonders, which was also longlisted for the Finestres Award and has been translated into fifteen languages. She published her prizewinning first collection of poetry, My First Bikini, when she was sixteen years old.

Lizzie Davis is a translator and an editor at Coffee House Press. She has translated Elena Medel’s poetry collection My First Bikini, Juan Cárdenas’s Ornamental (a finalist for the 2021 PEN Translation Prize), and work by Valeria Luiselli, Pilar Fraile Amador, and Aura García-Junco. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, Granta, and other publications.

Thomas Bunstead is a writer and translator. His recent translations include The Things We’ve Seen by Agustín Fernández Mallo, which was a recipient of a PEN Translation Award, and Water Over Stones, a co-translation with Margaret Jull Costa.

Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jessie Q. Sutanto


Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jessie Q. Sutanto
Berkley / March 2022

Picking up where Dial A For Aunties leaves off, this is another hilarious romp into the world of weddings and murder. Well, almost murder. Meddie’s life is complicated. But she’s getting married and her aunties won’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of a perfect wedding, even if it means kidnapping and murder.

Reviewed by Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Jessie Q. Sutanto

About the Author:
Jesse Q. Sutanto grew up shuttling back and forth between Indonesia, Singapore, and Oxford, and considers all three places her home. She has a Masters from Oxford University, but she has yet to figure out how to say that without sounding obnoxious. Jesse has forty-two first cousins and thirty aunties and uncles, many of whom live just down the road. When she’s not writing, she’s gaming with her husband (mostly first-person shooter), or making a mess in the kitchen with her two daughters.

Women and Other Monsters by Jess Zimmerman


Women and Other Monsters by Jess Zimmerman
Algonquin Books / February 2022

What can I say about Women and Other Monsters other than READ THIS NOW!? I picked this book up with full-blown curiosity, ignited by my love of mythology and strong belief in the women’s rights movement. Jess Zimmerman uses her own life experiences, mingled with monsters of ancient myth, to bring light to the ugly truth of what it means to be a woman. We are monsters–for our individuality, determination, free spirits, desires and ambitions, and our less-than-perfect bodies. At least that’s what the world wants us to believe. I found pieces of myself in every chapter, and discovered just how much I wanted that to change. I highly recommend this book to women of all colors and ages, trans women, non-binary gentlefolk, and those looking for insight.

Reviewed by Sophie Giroir, Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, Louisiana

Jess Zimmerman

About the Author:
Jess Zimmerman is the editor in chief of Electric Literature. Her essays, fiction, opinion pieces, and prose poetry have appeared in publications including Vice, Slate, The Cut, the Washington Post, The Guardian, and the New Republic. She lives in Brooklyn.


Spotlight on: Love & Saffron by Kim Fay


Kim Fay

"A few years ago, when [my friend] Janet had a milestone birthday, a vague idea floated into my head about writing something epistolary to honor that part of our friendship. Life happened, and the idea remained nothing more than that. Then came COVID and the lockdown in Los Angeles. Within days, I found myself writing a gift for Janet and another good friend, the food writer Barbara Hansen — a story told in letters.

I wanted a book that could serve as a balm. I wanted a book that could be read in a single afternoon. "—Kim Fay (via Bookweb)

Love & Saffron

What booksellers are saying about Love & Saffron

  • This whisp of a book transported to a time when real friendship can exist between people who have never met or seen images of each other, gratitude opens doors and a reminder of the beauty that exists in following the curiosity of your taste buds. Tender and honest this book told in three parts, most of it through the letter exchanges of two women, is a reminder that we are never finished growing, changing and loving. It is a reminder of how big our lives can become when we move through them with an open mind and an open heart. ― Kimberly Daniels from The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC
    Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • This beautiful and thoughtful book is a testament to the power of food, it really is a miracle worker. I wish I could type this review in all capital letters, but that wouldn’t be appropriate, but it would definitely convey how much I love this book and want everyone to know about it. Incredible! ―Jill Naylor from Novel in Memphis, TN
    Buy from Novel

  • Tender friendship, delicious food, and canny wit tie together this absolutely delightful epistolary novel. Set in the 1960s, this captivating correspondence between 27 year old Joan and 59 year old Imogen is reminiscent of the great food writing of Laurie Colwin, Ruth Reichl, and even Julia Child. Their no-nonsense attitudes and deep love for both food and each other make this book absolutely magic to read. With the healing properties of a warm meal enjoyed with those we love, Love & Saffron is set to fill both hearts (and bellies) of readers everywhere. ―Mary Louise Callaghan from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

About Kim Fay

Born in Seattle and raised throughout the Pacific Northwest, Kim Fay lived in Vietnam for four years and still travels to Southeast Asia frequently. A former bookseller, she is the author of Communion: A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam, winner of the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards’ Best Asian Cuisine Book in the United States, and The Map of Lost Memories, an Edgar Award finalist for Best First Novel. She is also the creator/editor of a series of guidebooks on Southeast Asia. Fay now lives in Los Angeles.

A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft


A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft
Wednesday Books / March 2022

A Far Wilder Magic is one of my favorite novels of all time, and Allison Saft is an author that I can count on for glorious tales such as this. The ancient forests, salt water and fog in this atmospheric fox hunt creep into you, chilling to the bone, and are warmed only by the fires running hot in Welty Manor. This is the kind of book that you read and re-read, like putting on a favorite sweater at the start of each autumn. It is a story of being an outsider, of desperate loneliness, of aching grief and lingering trauma. But ultimately, Margaret and Weston’s story is lined with so much hope and beauty that it fills your heart to bursting. I love this magical novel so much.

Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books and Books in Coral Gables, Florida

Allison Saft credit. Photo © Lisa DeNeffe Photography

About the Author:
Allison Saft is the author of eerie and critically acclaimed romantic fantasies, Down Comes the Night and A Far Wilder Magic. After receiving her MA in English literature from Tulane University, she moved from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast, where she spends her time hiking the redwoods and practicing aerial silks.

Hope and Glory by Jendella Benson


Hope and Glory by Jendella Benson
Algonquin Books / March 2022


Hope and Glory is the story of a family recovering from their father’s unexpected death in the aftermath of decades of secrets. An exploration of grief, identity, immigration, and sibling dynamics, the story is powerful, and bittersweet. It’s no secret that family dramas are my favorite, particularly sibling stories, and Hope and Glory is one of my favorites coming this year. This is a striking debut; I can’t wait to see what comes next from Jendella Benson.

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Jendella Benson Tols Abeni/Courtesy of Jendella Benson

About the Author:
Jendella Benson is a popular writer and editor for Black Ballad, and her work has appeared in The Guardian, BuzzFeed, MTV News UK, The Metro, The Huffington Post, and on MumsNet, amongst many others. She originated, crowd-funded, and published a book of photography and interviews, Young Motherhood, in 2016, and has contributed to a couple of anthologies. She is a TEDx speaker and has also appeared on Woman’s HourBBC World ServiceLondon Live and OH TV.

Parting Thought

"I do not remember a time when I could not read, nor any time when reading was not a joy and a solace. "
― Emmeline Pankhurst

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance /
Editor: Nicki Leone /
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett /
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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