The New Vanguard by New York Times

Our critics chose 15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.

  1. The Vegetarian: A Novel by Han Kang

    The Vegetarian is a South Korean three-part drama novella written by Han Kang and first published in 2007. Based on Kang's 1997 short story "The Fruit of My Woman", The Vegetarian is set in modern-...


  2. The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel

    From the author of Fun Home -- the lives, loves, and politics of cult fav characters Mo, Lois, Sydney, Sparrow, Ginger, Stuart, Clarice, and others For twenty-five years Bechdel’s path-breaking Dyk...

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  3. How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

    The protagonist of Sheila Heti’s thorny novel is a young divorced woman, living in Toronto, who is a heap of contradictions. She has a Jungian analyst yet works at a beauty salon. She’s writing a p...


  4. Salvage the Bones: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

    Winner of the 2011 National Book Award A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. A hard dri...

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  5. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

    The Neapolitan Novels is a 4-part series by the Italian novelist Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein and published by Europa Editions (New York). It includes the following novels: My Brilli...


  6. NW: A Novel by Zadie Smith

    New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012 “A boldly Joycean appropriation, fortunately not so difficult of entry as its great model… Like Zadie Smith’s much-acclaimed predecessor White Teeth (2000), NW...

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  7. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    One of The New York Times's Ten Best Books of the Year Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction An NPR "Great Reads" Book, a Chicago Tribune Best Book, a Washington Post Notable...

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  8. The Flamethrowers: A Novel by Rachel Kushner

    Arriving in New York to pursue a creative career in the raucous 1970s art scene, Reno joins a group of dreamers and raconteurs before falling in love with the estranged son of an Italian motorcycle...

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  9. American Innovations by Rivka Galchen

    A brilliant new collection of short stories from "the conspicuously talented" (Time) Rivka Galchen In one of the intensely imaginative stories in Rivka's Galchen's American Innovations, a young wom...

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  10. Outline by Rachel Cusk

    A luminous, powerful novel that establishes Rachel Cusk as one of the finest writers in the English language A man and a woman are seated next to each other on a plane. They get to talking—about th...

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  11. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

    Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us al...

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  12. Mislaid by Nell Zink

    Elizabethan comedy meets saw-toothed social satire in Nell Zink’s 2015 novel, which follows the improbable and very ill-starred couple of Lee Fleming (gay) and Peggy Vaillancourt (lesbian, his stud...


  13. Homesick for Another World by Ottessa Moshfegh

    Ottessa Moshfegh’s dark, confident, prickling stories are mostly about youngish men and women who have taken a wrong turn somewhere and find themselves hunkering down in nowhere towns, dismal cabin...


  14. Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado

    Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction “[These stories] vibrate with originality, queerness, sensuality and the strange.”—Roxane Gay “In these formally brilliant and emotionally charged t...

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  15. Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

    In New York, Alice, a young editor, begins an affair with Ezra Blazer, a world-famous, much older writer. At Heathrow airport, Amar, an Iraqi-American economist en route to Kurdistan, finds himself...

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