As soon as the final episode of Girls aired on HBO back in April, Lena Dunham was already thinking about her next project. It makes sense – the 31-year-old is an author, a showrunner, an actress, a filmmaker, and co-founder of the popular feminist newsletter and website, Lenny Letter. At this point, Lena Dunham is clearly a powerhouse, creating content that almost always sparks a conversation.
So in April, when Dunham announced that she and her Lenny Letter partner Jenni Konner were starting a new imprint with Random House, we couldn’t wait to see what they would do with it. The imprint, called Lenny, is designed to “push the ball forward on the issues that matter to our audience,” as Dunham told Buzzfeed. Knowing Dunham and Konner, we were sure that the books chosen would have a feminist bent, as well as touching on the issues that affect a modern generation.
And we weren’t wrong – Lenny quickly announced that their first book would be Sour Heart, a collection of short stories by author Jenny Zhang. Both a poet and a writer, Zhang’s work has appeared in Rookie, Jezebel, and, of course, Lenny Letter. Sour Heart is her first book. Direct and expansive, it tells seven different stories, all through the perspective of first generation Chinese American girls as they navigate what it means to be the daughters of immigrants. Taking us from Atlantic City to New York to Shanghai, this is a collection that examines race, sexuality, class, and how our heritage informs our daily lives.
Because the book tackles such large subjects in a narrowed, human way, it’s easy to see why Dunham (and Lenny!) would be so immediately enamored with Zhang’s collection. It certainly fits the message and brand of Lenny Letters, which devotes itself to giving young female voices a platform to discuss issues that matter to them. It’s also a message that Dunham is clearly familiar with, given how much her generation-defining show, Girls, worked to show the good – and the bad – of what it means to be a young woman moving through our modern world. With Lenny, she now has another medium with which to influence how young woman are getting and creating content.
This last season of Girls, with its examination of sexuality and power, was arguably one of its best. We’re sad to see the iconic series off the air, but happy to know that Lena Dunham still has her finger on the pulse of what it means to be a young woman in America. Sour Heart promises to continue that streak, introducing us to Zhang, a writer who’s not afraid to push boundaries in a collection of stories that’s both fun and thought provoking. The book officially comes out on August 1, and you can bet that we’ll be first in line.