10 International LGBTQIA+ Reads

10 LGBT International

Pride month may be over but that seems like a good reason to keep promoting LGBTQIA+ literature. I mostly read books by Western women of color because I seek out stories of marginalization at the intersection of gender and race. But I want to read more of the experiences of marginalized people from other countries and cultures, too. Since I cannot choose my reading freely at the moment, I love to make tbr lists of what to read when I’m done with uni. I know, procrastination, but you all get to take a peek:

Miaojin last word from montmatre

Last Words From Montmatre by Qio Miaojin (Taiwan)

Posthumously published, this is a short epistolary novel about heartbreak, female sexuality, language and transnational Asian identity. Warning for what is apparently an experimental and modernist style.

hairdresser

The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe)

Set in post-apartheid Zimbabwe, this book follows the rivalry and friendship of two hairdressers and takes a hard look at illegality and attitudes towards homosexuality. Have read it and can absolutely recommend it!

Black Bull, Ancestors and Me

Black Bull, Ancestors and Me by Nkunzi Zandile Nkabinde (South Africa)

This is a memoir of a sangoma, about life as a revered healer but also the difficult position of being a lesbian in a South African community. Resh, I think this is the healer book I was talking about!

twelve views

Twelve Views from the Distance by Matsuo Takahashi (Japan)

This is the memoir of the poet Takahashi about poverty, boyhood in rural Japan and becoming aware of his attraction to men before Western images of homosexuality were more widespread.

stone of laughter

The Stone of Laughter by Hoda Barakat (Lebanon)

Set around the Lebanese civil war, the novel follows a young gay man, Khalil, as he tries to escape political and military affiliations. This is said to be the first Arabic book with a gay main character, I had no idea.

lovetown

Lovetown by Michal Witkowski (Poland)

This one’s from Poland and about the clash between two generations of gay men, those who grew up in the age of communism and aids and the younger ones enjoying a post-communist world.

Red Azalea

Red Azalea by Anchee Min (China)

Min’s memoir about the last days of Mao’s China, being sent to work in a labor collective, finding solace in a relationship with another woman and then being recruited to work as an actress.

The Ucle's Story

The Uncle’s Story by Witi Ihimaera (New Zealand)

The book is about the story of both Michael Manahan and the titular uncle Sam, who fought in Vietnam and fell in love with an American soldier. Ihimaera writes about war, love and homophobia and the spaces for being gay in Maori and Western culture.

out

 Out! Stories From the New Queer India by Minal Hajratwala, ed. (India)

With the change in laws, more Indian stories about being ‘queer’ have been published and Hajratwala here collects different short stories about the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community in India. The anthology features established and emerging writers.

pillar of salt

Pillar of Salt by Salvador Novo (Mexico)

This is the memoir of Salvador Novo, a man of letters, about growing up during and after the Mexican revolution, coming to literature and living as an openly gay man in Mexican society.

Have you read any of these works? Or can you recommend more?

Sadly, this list skews towards the tragic, so I’d love recommendations that go beyond that single story. But perhaps it also shows what gets translated and what gets published. Getting LGBTQIA books out is obviously more difficult in some societies than others, but I’m glad I found some available in a language I can read, though I am curious to see what might have been translated into German, since Germany publishes a lot of translations, luckily.

10 Books for IDAHOT 2016- Reading against Homo-, Trans- & Biphobia

stop-homophobia

It’s International Day Against Homophobia 2016! Happily in recent years transphobia and biphobia have been included as well. As always, these actions seek to highlight the everyday and structural discrimination and violence enacted against the queer community and personally I celebrate the shit out of these days, even if it’s another day in the year round fight for freedom for all of us! I’m spending most of my time today watching queer shorts, yup that’s basically the event name 😀 But then I remembered I do have a blog that like 5 people read, so here’s a list of my fave LGBTQIA+ books or ones that are still on my tbr. Remember to read them well and read them obnoxiously in the face of parading homophobes! *puts down SJW megaphone*

dirty-river-cover

Dirty River by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Queer femme of color memoir including Canada, migration, disability and anarchopunk!

under-the-udala-trees-cover

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Nigerian civil war, coming of age, falling in love and being a lesbian in one of the most dangerous places to be so openly.

queer brown voices

Queer Brown Voices by eds Uriel Quesada and Letitia Gomez

Personal stories by LGBTQIA+ Latin@ ativists!

feinberg

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

Novel about growing up a butch lesbian in a blue-collar community by awesome activist Leslie Feinberg!

stealing nazreen

Stealing Nasreen by Farzana Doctor

Indo-Canadian novel about identity and belonging and being a lesbian in different communities.

staceyann chin

The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin

Memoir by one of my fave spoken-word performers about growing up a lesbian in different homes in Jamaica and finally belonging and finding her voice.

aristotle

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

I have so much love for this one! Two boys exploring family and identity and finding each other. Has to be one of the most beautifully written books ever, prepare to cry.

june jordan

Directed by Desire by June Jordan

Epic June Jordan’s epic poetry collection. This is the poetry you need, rooted in race, class and gender analysis and impacted by Jordan’s blazing LGB activism. Yes, I keep this book on my nightstand!

finlater

Finlater by Sean Stewart Ruff

Too rarely listed coming of age story about a Black and a Jewish boy in 1970s Ohio. This is about love, friendship and racism and segregation.

janet mock

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Janet Mock  of #GirlsLikeUs talks about identity, transitioning, New York and finally telling her story. This is on my tbr for this year.

Obviously I left out a ton of amazing works, can’t list ’em all. But: Do let me know your favorite LGBTIQIA+ fiction and non-fiction in the comments!

10 Novellas for Readathons

10 novellas for readathons

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is next Saturday! Who’s excited!? I’m still fiddling with my readathon stack, I never manage to read that much, but I like to have a good selection. It’s always motivating if you manage to finish a few things and so comics and novellas are really ideal reading material if like me, you are not one of those amazing speed readers. So, if you’re still looking for readthon books or you just love shorter works, here are 10 novellas you should put on your tbr:

Binti-Nnedi-Okorafor

1.Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

I read this last readathon and fell utterly in love with Okorafor’s imaginative writing. Binti is the first of her people to attend Oomza University, but to go there she has to leave behind her community and be among strangers with different customs and an ongoing war with the Meduse.

wildeeps

2.The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

More TOR, I’m a huge fan of their novellas. This one is on my readathon stack even if it’s apparently tragic and a romance. Caravan brothers, Black demigod love story, lots of play on language

every heart a doorway

3.Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire

McGuire’s newest work just so happens to be a novella and deals with a home for children who have been returned from magical lands and only wish to return. Which is just such a cool turn on the usual entering other worlds things.

red station

4.On A Red Station Drifting by Aliette De Bodard

Okay, half of this list is fro my tbr 🙂 Prosper Space Station is at a crossroads with its AI’s mind ravaged by disease and many of its people called to the long war against the Dai Viet Empire.

redemption

5.Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

Leaving her fool of  husband, Paama is given the Chaos stick by the djombi. Unfortunately one djombi with indigo skin wants the stick for himself. A trickster tale, a modern fairy tale, a Senegalese folk story. This promises to be epic and sounds like a great Once Upon a Time read, too.

cisneros

6.The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Cisneros’ story of Esperanza and growing up poor Mexican in Chicago is always good for a reread. This is basically a collection of vignettes but oh so readable.

we_have_always_lived_in_the_castle_cover

7.We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

No list without one of my favorites 🙂 Creepy thriller, plot twist included, you won’t be sorry to try Jackson’s story about sisters Merricat and Constance Blackwood after the deaths of most of their family.

emperors soul

8.The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

Shai the forger is the empire’s only hope. Sentenced to death for trying to steal the emperor’s sceptor, she is given the chance to redeem herself by copying the emperor’s soul. Sanderson has been on my list for ages, a novella seems like a great way to start.

ghost summer

9.Gost Summer by Tananarive Due

Yes, this is a short story collection, but the titular story Ghost Summer is actually a novella. Don’t read this late at night, Due is brilliant at scary horror, I learned this the hard way!

reluctant

10.The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

Hamid’s now probably classic story of the young Pakistani-American Muslim Changez, identity, belonging and fundamentalism in the wake of 9/11. Always good for a reread, too, to evaluate how far things have gone since then.

What are your favorite novellas? And are joining the readathon next Saturday?

Weekend Reads

weekend reads

It’s Friday! And thus usually the time I get most of my reading done. I’m a bit more flexible about my hours during the week at the moment but it’s still the weekends where I often save a book I’m really excited about for some serious reading time. Sometimes I make plans to read a specific book or reread an old favorite and close the door on the hectic world. So I expect weekend reads to be epic adventures, new worlds to explore or a mystery to figure out. If you want to loose yourself in a book this weekend, let me recommend some weekend reads to you:

tooth and claw

1. Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

Family drama and money intrigue, Victorian era, Pride and Prejudice with dragons!, social commentary, dragons!

fingersmith

2. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Victorian London, Dickens with lesbians, super twisty, class, thievery

niko

3. Niko by Kayti Nika Raet

Please don’t judge the book by its cover, post-apocalyptic wasteland, this is how you do diversity, body horror, kick-ass heroine

the between

4.The Between by Tananarive Due

Floridian horror or is it a mystery or a thriller, Black family history, what is going on, warning for Due always delivers on the creepiness

sorcerer to the crown

5. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Ye stuffy olde England now upgraded with magic, familiars, diverse characters, and the best heroine ever. You can read this in a day and then lament the wait for the sequel.

Do you make reading plans on some weekends? What are your favorite weekend reads?

 

 

Non-Fiction Friday: Cultural History and Body Parts

NonfictionFriday

Now, I apologize for the somewhat gruesome-sounding title! But it does capture best what this post is about. Hope you weren’t scared off, or were you intrigued? 😉 I’ve been thinking about posting more on non-fiction and since many of you weren’t opposed to the idea and everyone seems to love listicles, I thought I would gather some books about the cultural history of parts of the body, and to clear up the mystery: By this I mean works that focus on the cultural history of hair for example, or teeth, and do not simply present a biological account but in keeping with my specific interest (and hopefully it will interest you as well) examine how societal norms shape how we wear our hair for example or how haircuts can be political statements and/or are tied up with issues of race and gender to name but a few. Here are 3 books that look like promising investigations of the body and its cultural history (please note that I have only read the first book and the other two are still on my tbr, so I cannot vouch for them):

gilman- making the bodyA few years ago, I stumbled on this very important book by Sander L. Gilman (another academic crush!) and was most interested in the chapters on noses. Now what with self-optimization being common nowadays, something that is occuring too often is the nose job. If, like me, you’ve ever been told that you have an ‘ethnic nose,’ then this becomes not just an issue of beauty but of race as well. In much of this book, Gilman examines how the nose throughout (especially recent) history has been racial. And some of the in-depth analyses focus on the Jewish nose. Probably all of you have heard of this issue and it was horrifically prominent in the third Reich. Then, we also see that Black women working and living in the public eye may attempt to change their noses to fit into Western beauty standards or women with such preferred noses are given preferance. Now, will you ever think of noses in the same way again?

plucked

Another entry point for understanding how social and cultural issues are tied up with bodies is of course hair, or in this case the wanted lack of hair. Of course gender comes to mind here as one of the most obvious issues, but I’m thinking race and religion could be important issues as well, for example: The hipster beard vs muslim men deciding not to wear a beard because of the current climate of Islamophobia. Herzig takes a look at the importance of hair removal throughout history, from being considered ‘mutilation’ to the not-so-subtly enforced beauty standard that requires the hair removal by women in Western societies. This looks to be an impressively-thorough investigation of hair removal, which also pays attention to how scientific advancement, race and the medical field are implicated in this issue.

the vagina.literary and cultural historyFinally, Emma L. E. Reese provides another investigation of the importance and meaning of the vagina through literary and cultural studies. After the publication and following reception of Naomi Wolf’s book on the same topic, this seems like a timely addition. Rees is a scholar of the renaissance I think and that part of the book appears to be extremely well researched and definitely something I hardly know anything about. Rees’ work, however, reaches into the present as well and this seems a lot of ground to cover in one book, but I’m very interested in how the meaning and approach to the literary and cultural vagina has changed throughout history. It doesn’t get too many pages apparently, but it is worth mentioning that Rees does not appear to make this a cis-story of the vagina but looks at trans* issues as well. Yay for that!

Now, what are your favorite books on the cultural history of the body? Or which part of the body would you most like to see covered in non-fiction? Let me know in the comments!

Note: I wanted to make non-fiction post something regular and while googling about non-fiction in the book blogosphere, I stumbled on the wonderful Non-Fiction Friday series by DoingDewey. It seemed perfect and so here I am joining in on the non-fiction love.

Reading in the run up to Christmas

I don’t know about you, but I’m rushing to stay on top of holiday prep and getting in the thesis work I promised myself I’d manage before Christmas. Usually for me this means fun reading falls under the table as I don’t get enough guilt-free quiet time to really get into a book. So what I’m finding works quite well is to keep to shorter books under 260 pages, like novellas, short story collections and comics. That way I have enough head space for the thesis, get the prep done and still get to enjoy reading time. Thicker books are amazing to read in the calmer time between Christmas and New Years, but that’s a post for another time.

Here are 9 shorter works to enjoy during the rush before Christmas (links to goodreads) that are not holiday books or cozy crime:

 1.) One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

craz summer

A middle grade book about the Gaither sisters, who head to Oakland in 1968, where their mother wants them to join a Black Panther summer camp.

2.) The Female Factory by Lisa L. Hannet and Angela Slatter

female factory

A collection of four dystopian tales about women and procreation set in Australia. Disturbingly good.

3.) On a Red Station Drifting by Aliette de Bodard

red station

A story of a space station run by an AI, and empire, refugees drawing on Vietnamese culture.

4.) Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

annihilation

First part of the Southern Reach trilogy, in which the 12th expedition attempts to find out what is going on in the mysterious Area X . It’s slow, atmospheric and creepy.

5.) March: Book 1 by John Lewis

march

John Lewis was one of the key figures of the Civil Rights movement. Book 1 is his account of growing up in Alabama, meeting MLK and the Nashville Student Movement.

6.) Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur by Amy Reeder

moon girl

Moon Girl follows Lunella Lafayette, super genius, who wants to change the world. Then she meets a prehistoric red scaled tyrant. It’s epic.

7.) Almost Famous Women: Stories by Megan Mayhew Bergman

almost famous

A collection of short stories centering on remarkable but mostly forgotten women or ones more known in association with their more famous relatives. Favorite: “Hell-Diving Women.”

8.) Wheezer and the Painted Frog by Kitty Sutton

wheezer and the painted frog

This is a mystery for middle graders, in which Cherokee girl Sasa with support from dog Wheezer tries to find our why her young brother died.  A fantastic way to learn more about the ‘Trail of Tears’ and its aftermath.

9.) Rant. Chant. Chisme by Amalia Ortiz

rant

How about some poetry? This is amazing Xicana poetry in which Ortiz makes the case for ‘loud-mouthed women.’ Check out her spoken word performances on youtube!

How do you read in the run up to Christmas? Holiday books, chunksters or short fiction?