Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Four top recent titles with social justice themes

Anne Burt is the editor of My Father Married Your Mother: Dispatches from the Blended Family and coeditor, with Christina Baker Kline, of About Face: Women Write About What They See When They Look in the Mirror. Her essays and fiction have appeared in numerous publications and venues, including Salon, NPR, and The Christian Science Monitor; she is a past winner of Meridian’s Editors’ Prize in Fiction. Burt lives in New York City.

Her debut novel is The Dig.

At CrimeReads Burt tagged "four recent crime novels that seamlessly thread issues of social justice throughout their propulsive storytelling," including:
I Have Some Questions For You by Rebecca Makkai

Sophisticated crime fiction can propel the reader inward to think about their own complicity perpetuating injustice. Pulitzer Prize finalist Rebecca Makkai’s does just that in her newest book, I Have Some Questions For You. Makkai gives us both a murder mystery set on a boarding school campus and a multifaceted lens into society’s obsession with violent true crime stories – especially when the victims are young white women. Bodie Kane, a successful podcaster and professor, returns to teach a course at the boarding school where her former roommate was murdered years before. The victim was a white teenager, and the man convicted of the crime was the school’s Black athletic trainer, Omar Evans. Bodie opens up the past to ask if the school’s rush to convict Omar left the real killer at large. But Makkai’s investigation goes beyond the story at the center – she’s investigating the tendency of true crime junkies to fetishize gore, guts, and intrigue as the expense of challenging systemic racism and sexism that destroys lives and feeds them into a profit-generating entertainment meat grinder.

This meta reading experience encourages the reader to ask: “who am I in relation to what I’m witnessing?”: an important goal in any social justice movement.
Read about another entry on the list.

I Have Some Questions For You is among Heather Darwent's nine best campus thrillers.

--Marshal Zeringue