Hi and welcome to this week’s Lez Liberty Lit!
Raven Leilani is your new favorite novelist. Read an excerpt of her new book Luster. At Electric Literature, Leilani discussed “writing about a Black woman who has the freedom to be wanton and hungry. And at The New Republic, Josephine Livingstone calls Luster “the first crashing of a new wave of fiction defined by a world where all the traditional vocabularies for morality have gone defunct.”
Akwaeke Emezi kills their main character in The Death of Vivek Oji on the first page. At Electric Literature they discuss why, as well as the importance of prominent queer characters, death, and more. And at Zora, they discuss their writing process.
At Electric Literature, Jessica Xing wrote about lesbian pulp fiction and how it made her feel normal:
“Many of these books were treated as perverted. Not only in terms of what their content was actually about but how their expression was literally perverted or manipulated by publishers. Yet, this immediate indictment of morality and monstrosity imposed onto some of these books didn’t dishearten me. Instead, I found that there was something strangely heartwarming at the time about seeing how two characters love despite all narrative attempts to keep them apart.
Because as horrible as the ending may seem, there is nothing more exciting and horribly, horribly scary than finally being able to see yourself yearn.”
It’s okay to do less.
Alisson Wood, author of Being Lolita, a memoir about being groomed by a predatory English teacher at age 17, talked to Bitch about memoir as a genre, high school mental health, language and more.
So many queer stories have been burned.
Melissa Faliveno’s debut essay collection Tomboyland “is full of gorgeous meditations on queerneess, the Midwest, gender, and everything in-between.” In an interview with No Tokens, Faliveno discusses storms and identifying as a tomboy:
“I was pretty young, so I feel like it was more an acquiescence. That’s an interesting parallel because I feel like that’s kind of what ‘queer’ has become for me too: an acquiescence, more than a claiming. I write about that too; being uneasy about, a specific word that has a ton of different connotations. And as I write about, ‘tomboy’ has these old racist implications and it’s derisive and it has misogynistic implications. I remember resisting it when I was really young, because I knew that the word highlighted my difference from the other girls. But I felt so identified with the boys that I was like, well, this is the closest word that I have to express what I feel. I belonged with the boys, and this word that society had given me had the word ‘boy’ in it. So “tomboy” was as close as I could get without actually calling myself a boy — which I didn’t even think was possible. And I think that has been my experience with a lot of words, especially when it comes to sexuality and gender identity.”
Curious about “tomboy” and its racist implications? At Lit Hub, Lisa Selin Davis explores how “tomboyism in America is firmly rooted in racism.”
Read these queer books out in August. Read these new feminist classics. Read these books that take women’s bodies seriously. Read these books about pandemics. Read these books to feel glad you’re not at the beach. Read these books about coming of age in a small town.