by Max LoSardo
Fall 2021 is a great season for Bloomers. This month we feature a diverse array of writers making their debuts in memoir, novel, and novella, all coming from different backgrounds and training. This selection shows whether it’d be serving as an activist, managing a healthcare company, or anything in between, living life lends itself to writing.
Nawaaz Ahmed is a writer living in Brooklyn. He is from Yamil Nadu, India. Before turning to writing, he was a computer scientist for Yahoo. He holds an MFA from the University of Michigan and is the winner of several Hopwood awards. He is a former Kundiman and Lambda Literary fellow.
Radiant Fugitives follows three generations of a Muslim Indian family living in an America on the brink of change, While working for Kamala Harris’s attorney general campaign in San Francisco, Seema is nine months pregnant and estranged from the Black father of her unborn son, uprooting her successful life on the west coast. Infused with the poetry of Wordsworth and Keats with verses from the Quran, the story is told from the point of view of Seema’s child at the moment of his birth.
Kamila Shamesi of The New York Times Book Review, writes that Ahmed is “a writer of vast ambition, who wants nothing less than to reshape the American novel.”
Tarana Burke is an activist from the Bronx, New York. Burke started the MeToo movement in 2006 before it was popularized as a hashtag a decade later. Burke graduated from Auburn University at Montgomery, where she was an organizer. She later began to work with survivors of sexual assault, founding the nonprofit Just Be. She was featured in Time’s 2017 Person of the Year edition.
Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement is her debut memoir that looks at her role in the MeToo movement and her history in empowering Black and Brown women. She looks at her own healing as critical in helping others. Every person has their own path towards healing, and Burke brings generosity and empathy in her work and her writing.
Kirkus Reviews calls Unbound “An unforgettable page-turner of a life story rendered with endless grace and grit.”
Jocelyn Nicole Johnson is an art teacher and writer living in Charlottesville, Virginia. Johnson’s writing has appeared in Guernica, The Guardian, Kweli, Joyland, Phoebe, Shenandoah, Prime Number Magazine, and elsewhere. Her short story “Control Negro” was anthologized in Best American Short Stories 2018.
Her debut novella My Monticello is a collection of five stories and a novella all set in Virginia. the eponymous novella tells the tale of Da’Naisha, a young Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings leading a diverse group of neighbors in Charlottesville fleeing violent white supremacists. They are forced to seek refuge in Jefferson’s historic planation home.
Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, calls My Monticello “A badass debut by any measure—nimble, knowing, and electrifying.”
Tracey Lange is a writer raised in New York and living in Bend, Oregon. She graduated from the University of New Mexico before owning and operating a behavioral healthcare company with her husband for fifteen years.
She completed her debut novel, We Are the Brennans, while enrolled in the Stanford University online novel writing program. The book begins when Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital after a drunk driving accident. After recovering, she visits her family in New York for the first time in five years, after she abandoned them with little explanation.
Sarah Blake, the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Book, calls We Are the Brennans “deep and richly satisfying.” She goes on to say that “Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I read it in one long delicious slide.”
Wanda M. Morris is a corporate attorney from Atlanta, Georgia. She previously served as the President of the Georgia Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, where she established the Women’s Initiative, a female empowerment program. She is an alumna of the Yale Writers Workshop and Robert McKee’s Story Seminar.
Morris first started All Her Little Secrets 13 years ago, before putting it down. The novel follows Ellice Littlejohn, who discovers her boss’s dead body with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Ellice and her boss had been having an affair, and as the plot unfolds she confronts continuous ethical dilemmas.
Karin Slaughter, New York Times and international bestselling author calls All Her Little Secrets “a brilliantly nuanced but powerhouse exploration of race, the legal system, and the crushing pressure of keeping secrets.” She writes that Morris “brings a vibrant and welcome new voice to the thriller space.”
Max LoSardo is a writer living in Brooklyn.