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Three books that create complex, irresistible portraits of their settings: Florida; Denver; a hair salon. In Kristen Arnett’s novel Mostly Dead Things, the humidity, insects, and downright weirdness of Florida pervade a story of dysfunctional families, art, death, and life. Entertainment Weekly declared “Mostly Dead Things is the lesbian Florida taxidermy family novel you never knew you needed.” Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s story collection Sabrina & Corina breathes life into her Latina characters of indigenous ancestry and the land they inhabit in Denver, Colorado—a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite—where her women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force. Ebony Flowers’s debut comic collection, Hot Comb, offers a poignant glimpse into Black women’s lives and coming of age stories as seen across a crowded, ammonia-scented hair salon while ladies gossip and bond over the burn. Realizations about race, class, and the imperfections of identity swirl through Flowers’ stories and ads, which are by turns sweet, insightful, and heartbreaking. Moderated by Stephen Hiltner of The New York Times.
Ebony Flowers was born and raised in Maryland. She holds a BA in Biological Anthropology from the University of Maryland College Park and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she wrote her dissertation as a comic (mostly). Ebony is a 2017 Rona Jaffe Award recipient. She lives in Denver, CO. Hot Comb is her first collection of short stories.