Kristen Arnett is a queer fiction and essay writer. Her work has been featured in North American Review, The Normal School, Electric Literature, Literary Hub, Volume 1 Brooklyn, Catapult, Tin House Flash Fridays/The Guardian, Salon, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She was awarded Ninth Letter's 2015 Literary Award in Fiction for "See also: A history of glassmaking," which appears in this collection. Find her on twitter: @Kristen_Arnett.
Genres: General Fiction
Kristen Arnett recommends
I Know You Know Who I Am (2020)
"The stories in I Know You Know Who I Am asks readers to sit inside versions of the truth. This book is a beautiful Russian Nesting Doll: to try, to know, to understand. Peter Kispert has crafted a text that digs into the heart of what it means to sculpt a personhood for the sake of love. In these pages, intimacy is often a weapon, a drug, and a salve. Astonishingly tense and terrifically crafted, Kispert’s collection is not only a work of art, it’s a work of true tenderness."
Boys of Alabama (2020)
"Genevieve Hudson has conjured a novel that sets place as a touchstone. Every field is alive: every leaf, every insect, every crawling thing. Hands beget love, words set like sweetness on the tongue. The magic contained in Boys of Alabama's pages isn't just fixed in the beauty of its sentences; it's seen in the way that Hudson carefully crafts the intimacy between people and how she tenderly exposes queerness. This book is a fragile web, full of longing and ache and regret."
So We Can Glow (2020)
"Leesa Cross-Smith writes the way many people wish they could: ferociously, tenderly, and with a tremendous amount of heart. The stories contained in So We Can Glow showcase the very best of Cross-Smith's voice. They stick with readers long after the book is closed. This collection is tantalizing and Cross-Smith is a delight."
The Unsuitable (2020)
"Molly Pohlig has written a true stunner with The Unsuitable. A novel that takes the body and upends it, all the while focused on the how our interior worlds are oftentimes prolifically shaped by our parentage. On the sentence level it is both gorgeous and messy; a bloody delight. There isn't another book like it. Pohlig has crafted a wonder."
All My Mother's Lovers (2020)
"Ilana Masad's debut is a queer tour de force. A tender look at love, relationships, motherhood, and how we oftentimes hurt the people we love most with our silence. Compelling and astonishing, All My Mother's Lovers is a novel with family dynamics at its heart. This book goes hard and does not disappoint. Masad is a writer on the rise."
True Love (2020)
"True Love is a look at what happens when we lie to each other, but also what happens when we lie to ourselves. Sarah Gerard has written a book both funny and dark, a fantastically mesmerizing read. Its settings are dreamy and unsettling. The book showcases beauty and ugliness in equal measure, highlighting both pain and pleasure. It is bold and wildly imaginative, an overall deeply human novel. Gerard is a fiercely talented writer and TRUE LOVE is a real page turner."
The Last Story of Mina Lee (2020)
Nancy Jooyoun Kim
"The Last Story of Mina Lee is a fierce, gripping call to love and memory. Nancy Jooyoun Kim has written a beautiful debut novel that is unafraid to delve into the scary, deeply vulnerable places of our hearts. It's a riveting dance between mother and daughter, moving fluidly back and forth through time, documenting the quiet traumas that can divide generations. Tremendously readable, The Last Story of Mina Lee is a real page-turner and Nancy Jooyoun Kim is a knockout."
The Office of Historical Corrections (2020)
"Danielle Evans writes stories that make the world stop. Her work is so good that when you sit down with it, everything else ceases to exist. The stories in The Office of Historical Corrections move and breathe. The book is a beating heart. Magnificent."
Friends & Dark Shapes (2021)
"Friends and Dark Shapes is a tender look at the myriad ways that a body can hold grief. Kavita Bedford writes lyrically and longingly, imbuing sweetness and darkness throughout. It was a genuine pleasure to read this book; I felt as though I were sitting with a close friend, whispering to each other, sharing close-kept secrets. It made me rethink how loneliness can manifest; how we sometimes hurt ourselves and each other. Friends and Dark Shapes is a real delight and Kavita Bedford is a true talent."
Yes, Daddy (2021)
"Yes, Daddy is the kind of story that sticks with you and refuses to leave. Jonathan Parks-Ramage has written a gut-churning, heart-wrenching, blockbuster of a first novel. Deeply queer and deeply human, it is a book that describes what it means to be broken apart in trauma and grief and what it takes to be painfully, carefully stitched back together again. Parks-Ramage is an extraordinary new talent and Yes, Daddy is truly something special."
God Spare the Girls (2021)
"Kelsey McKinney has written a real whopper of a novel with God Spare the Girls, a book that explores the ultimate cost of love within a family and the secrets people keep. I felt deeply touched by these characters as I read; both hopeful for their relationships and also wishing for their success. It is a precious thing to find a novel that allows for both the sweetness and the sourMcKinney writes it all deftly, beautifully, and fearlessly."
"Transmutation is an eerie darling of a collection. Alex DiFrancesco has written stories here that are so unearthly they feel as if they have gossamer wings, characters lifting off the page to hold court in startling three-dimensional life. Some playful, some terrifying, all crafted with care--Transmutation is the kind of story collection that will stick with you for days after reading. DiFrancesco is a radiant talent."
A Touch of Jen (2021)
"Morgan has created a fabulous monster here, legitimately Frankensteined herself a wicked, unflinching, dynamite novel out of razor-sharp dialogue, toxic social media culture, and the nonsense notion that the self is just another brand to be endlessly plumbed for content. Wildly hilarious and absolutely terrifying, A Touch of Jen is truly a touch of genius. I loved every minute of it."
The Very Nice Box (2021)
"The Very Nice Box is a fascinating look at the ways people choose to compartmentalize grief. The writing is sharp and dynamic, the plot wonderfully compelling. It's a very fun read, but it's also a timely one: how does toxic masculinity in corporate culture restructure and rebrand itself in order to appear innocuous? The Very Nice Box is a very nice book, and Blackett and Gleichman have created something stellar here."
Something New Under the Sun (2021)
"A richly rendered ecological novel, characterized not only by how it sets the landscape but also by the fact that the landscape is quite often allowed to run the show. Kleeman is phenomenal when it comes to place writing. Like many of the characters in her book, I got lost inside her scene-setting, arid and wild, happy to let her drive me wherever her genius brain thought we should go. This is a book I’ll be thinking about for years to come."
The Boy with a Bird in His Chest (2022)
"Emme Lund's The Boy with a Bird in His Chest is a beautiful, tender book. I was deeply moved by this story; very caught up in the ways in which family, grief, love, queerness, and vulnerability all intersect. Lund's sentences are sweet and stick to your ribs. I found myself falling in love with these characters - these messy, deeply realized, fully lovable, and wonderfully human people. The Boy with a Bird in His Chest is a terrific first novel and Emme Lund is a profoundly gifted writer."
New Animal (2022)
"New Animal is a wonderfully tender book. Ella Baxter doesn't shy away from any of the messiness of humanity, choosing instead to lean in, hard, and unpack all the ways that grief breaks us down and ultimately reshapes us. It's feral and raw, laugh out loud funny in parts, and absolutely the kind of family mess I love best. Baxter is a delightful writer and New Animal is a hell of a read."
Our Wives Under the Sea (2022)
"Without a doubt, Our Wives Under the Sea is one of the best books I've ever read. It's not only art, it's a perfect miracle. We are lucky for it."
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