Kristen Roupenian is the author of "Cat Person," a short story that went viral a year ago when its account of a clumsy sexual encounter appeared in The New Yorker. Her highly anticipated first story collection, You Know You Want This, arrives Jan. 15.
The Raising by Laura Kasischke (2011).
This gothic novel about spooky goings-on at a sorority house is criminally underrated. Kasischke's novels are bigger in France than they are in the U.S., where she is better known for her poetry. But her fiction mixes a poet's elegant language with a delightfully pulpy horror sensibility. The French are onto something, as usual.
Bunny by Mona Awad (2019).
I'm cheating a little, because this novel won't be out until summer, but I read an advance copy and, holy smokes, these young women — a clique of aspiring writers who all call one another Bunny — are charismatic, hilarious, and horrifying. Awad is evilly funny and unafraid to bring out the gore.
This debut novel has been everywhere these past few months, and the hype is 100 percent deserved. Gorgeous, narcissistic, and Instagram-obsessed, the title character keeps accidentally-on-purpose killing her boyfriends and calling on her reliable older sister to clean up her mess. A fast-paced thriller that also brilliantly captures sisterhood's dance of love and envy.
Quicksand by Junichiro Tanizaki (1931).
This novel features an obsessive friendship that flares into a fiery lesbian affair — and then a bizarre four-way that includes the women's husbands. It was written by a man, and I can't lie, there are times when the narrative practically drips with lechery. But I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Belly Up by Rita Bullwinkel (2018).
All of this book's short stories are great, but "Arms Overhead," about two teenage girls who bond over their shared desire to cannibalize men, has earned a special place in my heart. One review called the book "bloodless," but I couldn't disagree more — I could practically feel the blood dripping down my chin as I read.
Sorority by Genevieve Sly Crane (2018).
Another massively underrated story about a sorority. (It's almost as if novels about complicated female friendship are rarely given their critical due!) A sister dies, and then everything goes rapidly to hell. Still, the most disturbing aspect of Crane's novel is not the death at its center, but the terrifying and tortuous relationships the sorority's members have with one another.