New & Noteworthy, From Ghost Stories to Essays on Female Identity

Recent releases of note:

ECHOES: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories, edited by Ellen Datlow. (Gallery/Saga, cloth, $32.99; paper, $22.99.) Halloween-worthy ghost stories from masters of the form, including Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Tremblay, Alice Hoffman and more.

CITIZEN OUTLAW: One Man’s Journey From Gangleader to Peacekeeper, by Charles Barber. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $27.99.) Barber, a writer on crime and mental health, here profiles the former New Haven gangster William Juneboy Outlaw III, who reformed his life after his 85-year prison sentence was drastically reduced.

USUAL CRUELTY: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System, by Alec Karakatsanis. (New Press, $24.99.) An ex-public defender, Karakatsanis now fights the system with lawsuits arguing the police, prosecutors and courts routinely violate defendants’ rights. His book makes the case in three essays.

FEMALES: A Concern, by Andrea Long Chu. (Verso, paper, $12.95.) “Everyone is female,” Chu asserts repeatedly in these short, incisive essays on the theme of gender and identity. “You do not get to consent to yourself,” she writes: “a definition of femaleness.”

YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY, by Steph Cha. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $26.99.) This elegant, suspenseful crime novel centers on two families — one black, one Korean — in the racial tinderbox of contemporary Los Angeles.

What we’re reading:

Above my desk at home I keep a 1970 anthology that lit a fire to second wave feminism: SISTERHOOD IS POWERFUL, edited by Robin Morgan, proclaims itself not merely a book but a live protest. “This book is an action,” Morgan writes; “it was conceived, written, edited, copy-edited, proofread, designed and illustrated by women.” The action broke down when Morgan realized that most people running the publishing houses were men — but no matter. The essays, from writers like Kate Millett, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Florence Kennedy — on subjects like aging, the double bind of racism and sexism, and the politics of housework — remain relevant today. Of particular delight is what Morgan dubs “verbal karate,” a list of statistics and data-driven, quippy comebacks to those who dare to ask whether women should work / bear children / make equal pay to men. The statistics are outdated but the sentiment is as timely as ever.

—Jessica Bennett, gender editor

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