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!

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?

 

Review: A Single Man

I´m sorry I haven´t posted much recently and not commented a lot either, with the heatwave we are having over here, I´ve been reluctant to spend much time at the computer!

Christopher Isherwood´s A Single Man was one of his lesser-known novels (or novellas really), until Ford´s recent film adaptation. Go see that one, I found it to be beautifully made. This is one of the few times that the film and the book really complement each other, and there is not much I didn´t enjoy about the film.

A Single Man is about George, an English professor in California. The story follows him through one single day and explores George´s day-to-day activities as well as shaping events in form of memories, mostly about his recently deceased lover Jim. What becomes clear in the course of the story is that George´s life is characterized by loneliness and alienation from the people around him. He is distanced from others because of his British nationality, his homosexuality, and most recently because of his grief over the loss of his lover. These things set him apart from the rest and as a result he is utterly alone. This becomes most obvious when George is surrounded by other people or when he remembers his life with Jim.

Although A Single Man only covers the events of one day, there is a lot of substance to this novella. George is a complex character, and in this single day he runs the whole gamut of emotions, starting with the construction and recognition of his identity when first waking up:

Waking up begins with saying am and now. That which has awoken then lies for a while staring up at the ceiling and down into itself until it has recognised I, and therefrom deduced I am, I am now. Here comes next, and is at least negatively reassuring; because here, this morning, is where it had expected to find itself; what’s called at home.

It knows its name. It is called George.

Obviously, it takes him a while to piece together who he is, and the loss of his lover is a gaping wound in his life and his identity. George is surprised that people should recognize him when he is only “three-quarters-human” and not a whole person but only an unfinished construction, “a mimicry of their George”.

Isherwood looks at how George is alienated because of his homosexuality, for example by letting him muse on how his neighbours view him. But this novella is foremost a study of grief and loneliness. George is very much defined by grief and the loss of Jim, and Isherwood´s writing, always beautiful, is especially powerful in these instances:

And it is here, nearly every morning, that George, having  reached the bottom of the stairs, has this sensation of suddenly finding himself on an abrupt, brutally broken-off, jagged edge- as though the track had disappeared down a landslide. It is here that he stops short and knows, with a sick newness, almost as though it were for the first time: Jim is dead. Is dead.

George also grapples with his problems of really reaching his students, with aging and the resulting changes in his body that he cannot stop despite hours of toiling at the gym. There are few instances where George connects with another human being, one of these is his friendship with fellow Brit Charlotte. Their relationship is not without its complications but they are close and George can talk to Charlotte about Jim´s death (which, it being the 60s, he cannot talk about freely to others), but only to a certain degree. This inability to voice his grief and have it acknowledged by others is really the most tragic thing about this discrimination. If you have to hide your relationship, at least you have someone to share your feelings with. George´s unrecognized widowhood makes him an involuntary, and therefore all the more tragic, Single Man.