5 On a Theme: Chican@ & Latino/a Speculative Fiction

spec fiction photo

This was a difficult one! But since Chicana and diverse SF were requested, here’s my attempt to combine them. A note on terminology: I’ve included writers that I have seen included in Latino/a or have seen identify themselves as such. Some but not all also identify with the sometimes overlapping but radical Chican@, let me know if I got something wrong! Also, the @ is for inclusion of all gender identities but since Latin@ is something else, please excuse my binaries.

I think the difficulty in finding Chican@ and Latino/a science-fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction, without going in the direction of Latin America and magical realism, just goes to show that we need to promote these stories better and let authors and publishers know that we will greet these books enthusiastically. From what I can tell, writers and artists are doing amazing things in the borderlands as Vourvoulias uses the term for that grey queer space of non-/indie-/self publishing. They should be getting lots of acknowledgement and recognition in the limelight too. These stories are what I want to see when I enter a bookstore!

Lunar Braceros

1) Lunar Braceros by Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita

This science fiction novella is set in a dystopian 22nd century in which the US does not exist anymore and different territories have emerged. The new order connects to the history of oppression suffered in the Americas and is written with an explicit social justice approach which is what drew me to the book in the first place. I loaned this one from a friend who warned me that the ideas and politics were amazing but that the style was more lecture than dialogue. I’m glad I knew this beforehand and got so much out of it, such an amazing work, I would’ve gladly read more!

high aztec

2) High Aztec by Ernest Hogan

Techno Aztec/h city Tenochtitlan formerly known as Mexico city has stainless steel pyramids and lots of immigrant (I’m only using this term instead of refugee etc cause things are turned on its head with US citizens as those fleeing) influx from the declining US and Christian and Aztec beliefs clashing. There’s another problem though: Zapata! He’s a cartoonist carrying a virus and everyone is after him. Hogan has written genre fiction and I mean this in the nicest way possible. This is so cool and has been under my radar for far too long!

ink

3) Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias

Dystopian fiction taking the anti-immigration rhetoric and politics of the US to its logical conclusion. People with such a history, Latino/as have to wear biometric tattoos and they are known as inks. We follow different narrators over several years and see them caught between these violent conditions, belonging, magicks and making connections. The four narrators made the book’s structure a bit chaotic but I loved it nonetheless! Also how awesome is this cover!

the assimilated guide

4) The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez

This is a new short story collection published by amazing RosariumPub. Hernandez writes strange, intriguing stories from a Cuban-American perspective. Expect everything from sexy robot pandas to quantum mechanics bringing along unicorns to illegal aliens! This is on my tbr.

Latino.a rising art

5) Latino/a Rising Anthology

I know, this one won’t be out till next year but I’ve been following their campaign and it’s so amazing to see there was enough support to get it done! The anthology will be published in 2017 by Wings Press. Vourvoulias will also apparently contribute a story and check out the line-up here!

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There’s also an amazing article by Vourvoulias, where you can find Latino/a speculative short story recommendations and this list of Latino/a genre writers. Another great source is La Bloga’s Latino Speculative Literature Directory.

Do you read diverse science fiction and speculative literature? How do you come across them? Also: Do please leave me your faves in the comments!

5 On a Theme: Queer Horror

queer horror

Representation of queer characters in horror fiction and film was often fraught with problems in the best case scenarios, or outrightly hostile at worst. But in the last decades especially LGBTIQ+ writers have taken on the genre and created complex engagements with horror and queer identity away from the doom and gloom of earlier phobic depictions in the mainstream. Adressing intersecting notions of the queer and horror, the normative and the Other, these works ask us to rethink where we draw lines and how we make rigid transformative and fluid identities.

let the right one in

1. Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

This Swedish vampire story has been adapted to the big screen and been a popular read. 12 year old Oskar’s new friend Eli is a strange one and she only comes out at night. Let The Right One In notably deals with issues of Othering, pederasty and adolescent sexuality as well as the performance of binary gender identity.

affinity

2. Affinity by Sarah Waters

One of my favorite authors, Sarah Waters continuously writes engaging, addictive page-turners with lesbian characters. Affinity, once again set in Victorian London, depicts a complex relationship between Selina a jailed occultist and charity worker Margaret who visits the prisoners of the women’s ward.

gilda

3. The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez

In the 1850s a young Black girl escapes from slavery and finds community in Gilda’s sisterhood of vampires. The Gilda Stories challenges notions of binary gender identity, sexuality and what it means to be a “monster.”

sea, swallow me

4. Sea, Swallow Me by Craig Laurance Gidney

This collection of short stories centers mostly around Black gay characters and combines horror with mythology from Africa to Japan. Reaching from the Antebellum South to the contemporary US, Gidney demonstrates how we are shaped by the intersections of faith,  race and sexuality. Just noticed that with the elements of mythology, fairy tales and the speculative, this could definitely be a good one for the Once Upon a Time challenge.

the drowning girl

5. The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan

This one is about India Morgan Phelps, called Imps by her friends, and her attempts to make sense of her encounters with mythical creates and her family’s history of mental illness. Framed as a Imps’ recordings of these encounters, the book is a meta-heavy work of intertextuality hinted at by the book’s subtitle: a memoir. The Drowning Girl also examines issues of gender performance and transformation in Imps’ friend Abalyn who is a transwoman.

Looking for more themed reading? Take a look at my previous 5 On a Theme post: Afro-German Literature.

Do you enjoy horror stories? What are your favorite scary books beyond the norm?

 

5 on a Theme: Afro-German Literature

November in the book blogosphere is German Literature Month. Although I haven’t managed to participate, every year I enjoy reading the book reviews and they always remind me to give German lit another try. Being German I’ve had a lot of contact with it in school and university, unfortunately the selections were mostly dead old white dudes and the discussions often pretentious and overly intellectual. So that pretty much scared me off, even though I know there has to be amazing literature I’m missing out on. If you know of German books that go beyond the normative, I’d love recommendations!

Anyway, I chose to major in American Studies and have never really looked back. Curiously enough, it was there that I encountered German literature again, in a class on Audre Lorde and Afro-Germans. I loved learning more about Germany’s history that wasn’t white-washed, and this is a part of German literature that is right up my alley.

Germany to this day considers itself to be a homogeneous white population and while white immigrant groups are sometimes assimilated into the culture, all of us who cannot pass will forever be asked where we are from. Because there is no German concept of People of Color, only ‘people with a migratory’ background. So you will find that a lot of the books I mention here deal with having to fight for being recognized as being German. But the fact is that Black Germans have been here since the 18th/19th century (this timeline comes from available archival documents)!

Since I often look for more diverse lists of German books, but find it frustrating that they are not easy to find, I thought I’d recommend 5 books of Afro-German literature to you. I restricted myself to works that present another perspective of German history and identity and deal explicitly with race (and are available in English/ English translation). Not because I require so-called minority authors to write about being Othered, but because it is a) a personal preference of mine to find similar experiences I can connect to and b) because I want Germans and everyone else to realize the diversity of German life and identity.

showing our colors

This ground-breaking publication from 1984 is edited by May Opitz (Ayim), Katharina Oguntoye and DagmarSchultz. Showing Our Colors collects stories from Black Germans that are bitter reckonings with their experiences of being made Other in post-WII Germany.

invisible woman

Ika Hügel-Marshall’s Invisible Woman: Growing Up Black in Germany is her memoir of growing up in Germany as what was then called a “Brown Baby.” These children of white German women and African-American soldiers complicated notions of Germanness in the especially problematic society of post-WWII.

Popoola-Also-by-mail_rbg_web

 Also by Mail by Olumide Popoola is a play about family first of all, but also about Black German identity and being the outsider. I’ve talked a bit about this one here.

may ayim

Blues in Black and White is a collection of the works of Black German writer and activist May Ayim. She was part of the Afro-German movement in the 80s and 90s and published amazing poetry, some of which has luckily been translated into English. She’s one of my favorite poets.

Massaquoi

Destined to Witness is a memoir by Hans J. Massaquoi, which chronicles his experiences as a Black German during the Third Reich and his later life in Liberia and the US. Massaquio’s work makes visible the experience of Black Germans during the Holocaust and his difficulty in fitting in any category. I recommend Clarence Lusane’s study Hitler’s Black Victims as a companion read to this.

I hope you’ll find something for your tbr in this list. I’m planning to do a series of ‘5 on a Theme’ posts and to make lists for diverse German literature that cover other identities and experiences, if anyone is interested in that. Also, I’d love some recommendations for diverse German books!