by Jennifer Wisner Kelly, Fiction and Nonfiction Book Review Editor

We’ve recently debuted a new approach at Colorado Review regarding our fiction and nonfiction reviews: seasonal themes. Themes serve as a lodestar for selecting from among the many titles released by small independent presses that are so worthy of being noticed, read, and lauded. For this season’s theme, we chose to review works by women authors: David Bowen reviews Samantha Irby’s Meaty; Lenore Myka reviews Laura Kasischkes first story collection, If a Stranger Approaches You; Brent Walth reviews Jean Ryan’s collection Survival Skills; Heather Sharfeddin reviews Colorado Review author Nance Van Winckel’s linked story collection Boneland; Anne McDuffie reviews Patricia Rosoff’s book of essays on art appreciation, Innocent Eye; Nicholas Maistros reviews Karen Houppert’s Chasing Gideon; Derek Askey reviews Colorado Review Nelligan Prize winner Katherine Hill’s debut novel, The Violet Hour; Amanda Moger Rettig reviews Hollis Seamon’s Corporeality; Corey Campbell reviews Susan Steinberg’s Spectacle; and Jennifer Wisner Kelly reviews Sarah Gerkensmeyers collection of short stories What You Are Now Enjoying.

Beginning in 2010, VIDA, Women in Literary Arts, began publishing statistics on the gender distribution of books both published and reviewed in major venues like the New York Review of Books, the Paris Review, and Harper’s. For three years now their statistics have shown that women continue to be significantly underrepresented in these important literary venues. Check out VIDA’s work here.

In a world in which an estimated 80% of fiction readers are women, and MFA programs have an ample supply of aspiring women writers, surely it’s time for this imbalance to be rectified. And so, for this theme, to further improve the stats and give women writers their fair share of the spotlight, we reviewed only books by women. These authors tackle traditionally female subjects such as gender identity, sexuality, motherhood, and body image, but they also write about subjects that are gender neutral: the state of our justice system, the environment, modern art and Irish history. And one author subverts our expectations and makes male identity her focus.

Check out these reviews here. And keep coming back as more reviews are posted in the next few weeks.