Lez Liberty Lit #93: New and Old Feminist Books

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Things About Queer Books (And Other Books Relevant To Your Interests)

The Lambda Literary Award finalists were announced! Some of them include The First Bad Man, Under the Udala Trees, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, Lost Boi, The Gay Revolution and more.

At Vox, Constance Grady writes about women’s writing in the past, why it’s forgotten, and where to find it:

“When a woman writes the kind of piece that is celebrated by male critics as “serious literature,” she is told it is the kind of writing to which women are least suited and that she should avoid it at all costs, and her writing is dismissed on the grounds that it cannot possibly be as good as what a man might write.

When a woman writes about the home and domesticity, she is told her subject matter is frivolous and unimportant and unworthy of any kind of serious consideration, and her writing is dismissed because it cannot possibly be worth the time required to read it.

Men write literary fiction; women write women’s fiction. And women’s fiction is disposable.”

Marijane Meaker, a lesbian pulp writer who wrote Spring Fire, one of the first in its genre, was profiled in the Advocate.

“The way to make something good is to make it well.”

The best characters of color in science fiction and fantasy include Lauren Olamina from The Parable of the Sower, Mercy Thompson in the eponymous series, Alana in Saga and more.

At the New Yorker, Morgan Jerkins writes about black women writers and the secret space of diaries.

It’s okay to not classify and sort everything, sometimes.

It’s time the bestseller list became more diverse.

Loved (and out of) classic feminist books? Next, you should read We Should All Be Feminists, Black Feminist Thought, Feminism Without Borders, Bad Feminist and more.

Zines! They are great. (Disclosure slash brag, oh gosh press, which I help run, is featured in the article.) Also at Bitch, Anne Bean discusses zines and minicomics that explore the magical girl genre.

I don’t even want to talk about History of Magic in North America so I’ll let the GIF at the top of this post do it for me.

To help Native American girls and women deal with sexual assault, the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center and Lucy Bonner have created a free illustrated book on what to do afterwards.

The best books about breasts include The Color Purple, Sex In History, Femen by Femen and more.

At Open Democracy, Kate Bornstein discussed the gender binary, anti-normativity, political impact, cancer and more.

Joanna C. Valente gave a fun interview about tarot and poetry, noting:

“Tarot is all about finding your way to fulfillment—how can you become more whole, more satisfied with your inner and outer lives. Nothing in life is perfect, but the Tarot forces us to evaluate ourselves on every level—emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, materially—so that we can move forward, not backwards. Poetry does the same thing for me—writing is an act of therapy—in general, writing allows you to become more self-aware and observant of the world around you, so I thought, I love both—why not merge them?”

And, in the New Yorker, Peter Bebergal writes about making the tarot literary (again).

Book Things To Do In Person

26 March, New York: Gabby Rivera’s release party for Juliet Takes A Breath will be at Bluestockings (172 Allen St.), 7 p.m.

1 April: Submissions for Best Women’s Erotica are open until April 1. The editor is looking for more queer stories, looking for stories starring trans women and open to a wide variety of stories featuring queer sexuality as long as they fit the guidelines.

Know of a queer event with literary merit? Send it to us! The Liberty Lit is bi-weekly.


Books! They are really great. You just won’t believe how great they are. You may think that the Internet’s great, but that’s just peanuts compared to books. In Lez Liberty Lit, we talk about queer books and literary shit that’s happening that you should probably care about.

The name “Liberty Lit” was inspired by the short-lived literary journal produced by Angela Chase at Liberty High School in 1994.

Before you go! It takes funding to keep this publication by and for queer women and trans people of all genders running every day. And A+ members keep the majority of our site free for everyone. Still, 99.9% of our readers are not members. A+ membership starts at just $4/month. If you're able to, will you join A+ and keep Autostraddle here and working for everyone?

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

Carolyn has written 1121 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. UGHHHH I AM SO UPSET ABOUT THE HISTORY OF MAGIC IN NORTH AMERICA!

    Why why why why why is Jo doing this?! I’m honestly starting to think I might not even bother going to see the movie? How did someone not put a stop to this!? Who in the world thought a white woman from Britain talking about ancient Native American traditions was a good thing!?

    • All Malinda Lo’s work is YA fantasy or science fiction. I actually think her conspiracy-thriller duology (Adaptation and Inheritance are the titles, but it really reads like one book cut in half in the middle) are her best work.

      No discussion of queer Asian feminism (especially in the fantasy/sf genre) is complete with Larissa Lai’s novels When Fox Was a Thousand and Salt Fish Girl. Her feminism is a lot more radical than Lo’s and tends to push back hard against the pressure to create queer or feminist or Asian role models, capitalism, and traditionally-male-coded plot structures. She’s Canadian and completely awesome.

      I also love Nina Revoyr, of Japanese-American and white heritage, whose novels are especially smart about the Asian-American and black relations in the US. The Necessary Hunger is a queer classic for good reason and damn good romance with a lot of smart insights about race and class; Southland is an excellent mystery focused on the history of Asian/Black tensions in Los Angeles and how they echo today. I haven’t read the Age of Dreaming (about a gay Asian silent film star in early Hollywood); I don’t think Wingshooters is her best book but a lot of people love it (it’s about white racism, and definitely her book most aimed at a white audience). I really loved Lost Canyon, her recent thriller about a racially mixed group on a hike gone wrong; it’s a great character-based work of suspense, with strong feminist and social justice themes. It also makes some political points (about, say, who benefits monetarily from the movement to legalize marijuana) that will make white liberals very uncomfortable.

      Autostraddle did a not-very-positive review of Tanwi Nandini Islam’s novel Bright Lines, about the daughter of a secularized Muslim Bangladeshi-American family who ultimately comes out as a transman, not long ago; the book is something of an over-ambitious mess, but I really enjoyed reading it, and I think the author is worth watching. I think with practice she’s going to do great things.

      Staceyann Chin is of Chinese-Jamaican and African-Jamaican descent, and a fantastic spoken-word performer and author who is very direct about feminist, queer, and racial themes. Her memoir This Side of Paradise is a must-read.

      I have not read Ryka Aoki, the Asian-American trans activist, but she has written poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. (Maybe someone else can comment on her work?) I also haven’t read Yoon Ha Lee, who is trans and writes science fiction, so I don’t know if he treats queer or feminist or Asian themes.

  2. Feminist literature is fiction or non fiction which supports the feminist goals of defining, establishing and defending equal civil, political, economic and social rights. The feminist icon is famed for her work, which influenced both feminist theory and existentialism.

  3. I just finished reading the Gay Revolution (which is awesome as an audiobook). The first few chapters are a bit triggering and made me feel very awful, but then Kameny and Gittings happened, and those two were so, so, so awesome. I admit to being biased here in part because it was so good to be hearing positive historical things after chapters full of entrapment and police vans. Kameny’s steadfast advocacy work in DC made me mentally think “troll for good,” and I had a bit of jump in my step on my way into work. The dauntingly long book is great for contextualizing the LGBT movement and feeling a sense of place, especially since it has so much pre-Stonewall content.

    Plus, it’s written by an accomplished woman historian, and she made an effort to be gender-balanced. (A common refrain for LGBT groups she discusses in the book seems to be, “And then they realized they needed a lesbian to engage women, so they had to find one willing to be on the executive board.”) Recommend recommend recommend.

  4. I read quite a few on that Lamda list, and enjoyed most of them…but what did anyone else think about The Gap of Time? I had really been looking forward to it and read it very quickly, but it didn’t really do it for me. Which makes me sad to say, because Jeanette Winterson was important to me at one point. And I am also a fan of The Winter’s Tale! It was an ARC that I read, but my dissatisfaction was deeper than a couple typos or lack of finalized formatting.

    Any thoughts? Am I missing something?

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