Lez Liberty Lit: Bodies Are Not Metaphors


Hi and welcome to this week’s Lez Liberty Lit!

If you leaned into all the anti-racist reading lists going around, how is your reading going? Just buying the books isn’t enough. What are you learning? What of your assumptions does your reading challenge? What will you change about your thoughts and actions going forward?

You Exist Too Much, Zaina Arafat’s debut novel about an unnamed queer Palestinian American woman, is about intense, obsessive love; the idea of unattainability; feelings of non-belonging and more. In a review at Bitch, Katherine Connell writes:

“This is a novel that draws out the ways that love can rupture and reform an existence, while also posing questions about how to love when love has been refused. Arafat’s narrator loves intensely and obsessively, but it’s always from a distance. Her love objects—a professor, the wife of an international ambassador, a counselor, straight(ish) friends, and roommates—are largely incapable of returning her feelings, if they’re even aware of a romantic veneer glossing over their connection. This conflicted and self-protective way of loving brushes up against histories of colonization and occupation, bifurcated cultural identity, internalized homophobia, and the thorny processes of recovery.”

Check out this global list of Black-owned art galleries, museums and spaces.

Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half is a must-read intergenerational exploration of identity, racial passing – “Bennett roots out these withered tropes and reanimates them in a fresh, surprising story,” writes Sarah Resnick at the New Yorker – class and gender. In an interview with the Rumpus, Bennett talks about self-reinvention, colorism, growing up believing that your body is wrong and more:

” I think it can be easy to intellectualize “identity” and want to gaze at it from a safe remove, instead of thinking about how identity shapes our material lives. For example, there’s an image of a segregated cemetery in the book, which is based on a story I heard from my family, about a local church facing controversy for cleaning headstones on the white side of the cemetery and not the Black side. It was such an absurd scandal, but at the same time, it was an example of the way that race literally affects our lives from the cradle to the grave. I didn’t want to lose sight of that reality.”

Here’s how to find a queer incarcerated penpal.

“Through the lens of a young, queer, biracial woman of color, Pizza Girl explores what it looks like to feel lost and desperately long to escape from your own life, as well as the idea that what you see is not always what you get,” writes Daphne Palasi Andreades by way of introduction to an interview with Pizza Girl’s author Jean Kyoung Frazier on fantasy, “slacker fiction,” resisting stereotypes, characters who extend beyond grappling with identity and more. Read an excerpt from Pizza Girl at LitHub.

This is why it is correct to capitalize “Black” but not “white.”

It’s a great time to read Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books.

We’re living in the Cool Zone.

Mutual aid publishing is powerful.

Queerness inspires invention.

Lambda Literary has won a $35,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Sometimes you gotta write slowly.

It’s time for the publishing industry to ditch conservative authors. Staff at transphobic author J.K. Rowling’s publisher are already taking a stand by refusing to work on her latest book.

Read these 24 new and forthcoming books that celebrate Black lives. Read these poetry collections about being a person of color in queer spaces. Read these anti-racist graphic novels. Read this anti-racist fiction. Read this anti-racist poetry. Read these books this summer. Read these books when you’ve made it through 2020 until now. Read these 20 new Asian American books. Read these books about the world-changing power of protest. Read these books to learn more about mid-century design. Read these books about confinement and the need to escape. Read these books when you want to run away from your life. Read these books about the burden of women’s beauty standards. Read these books about U.S. asylum seekers. Read Brazilian writer Natalia Borged Polesso’s recommendations for lesbian literary geographies.

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.

1 Comment

  1. It’s so weird the Wizard of Earthsea books got knocked off my shelf last night (my books are in a very narrow space so this happens) and I had been meaning to read them, and I was like, huh…meant to get to those. I’m definitely going to take this as a sign, now! Slotting them in as the fantasy portion of my reading once I finish The Broken Earth Series. Thanks Carolyn!

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