ROXANE GAY (HACHETTE, $29.99)
This collection of short stories gets down to the grit of women caught up in wretched and gut-wrenching situations. Often, through no fault of their own, they tread a disastrous path littered with poverty, loss, low self-worth and traumatised childhoods. In “I Will Follow You”, two sisters who bond for life after they’re abducted and held as sex slaves are forever on the run both mentally and physically, while “Break All the Way Down” is both harrowing and shocking. Damaged and eternally vulnerable, the “difficult” women’s attraction to lousy men (however good in the sack they may be) doesn’t help and – prudes, beware – there is quite a lot of explicit sex. Roxane Gay, Nebraska-born and of Haitian descent, writes with insight and a powerful voice on race and women’s issues.