Queer Lit Preview 2020

One of the many great things about what we do here at Turnaround is the sheer volume of wonderfully diverse, interesting books that pass through our hands each month. That’s why (as longtime Turnaround fans will remember) every year we round up our LGBTQ+ titles and arrange them neatly into one convenient blog – to shine a light on the goings-on in the world of queer literature, and make sure that you, Dear Reader, don’t miss a thing. Let’s see what’s in store for 2020, then.

January

The Pink Guide to Adoption for Lesbians and Gay Men by Nicola Hill (CoramBAAF, 9781910039922, p/b, £13.95)

The 3rd edition of the essential step-by-step guide to adoption for lesbians and gay men, covering both the adoption process, and the experiences of queer adopters. The book contains information that is relevant to both single adopters and same-sex couples and is the first of its kind to be published in the UK.

February

Transgender Resistance: Socialism and the Fight for Trans Liberation by Laura Miles (Bookmarks, 9781910885833, p/b, £10)

Trans rights and trans lives have come under increasingly vicious ideological attack in recent times, from the ‘bathroom wars’ and Donald Trump’s anti-trans edicts in the United States, to attacks on proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act in Britain. Laura Miles’ new book brings together key strands in the resistance to these attacks – on the streets, in communities, in workplaces and in unions. It addresses the roots of transphobia and the history of gender transgressive behaviours, highlights trans people’s fight for the freedom to live authentic lives and explains why that fight deserves unconditional solidarity in all sections of the left.

Easier Ways to Say I Love You by Lucy Fry
(Myriad Editions, 9781912408597, p/b, £8.99)

Lucy Fry’s story opens with the heady and impassioned affair she embarked on during her wife’s pregnancy. It is a relationship that appears to be unstoppable, perhaps even addictive, despite guilt and self-questioning. With intense and unflinching honesty, she takes her readers on a compelling journey from childhood trauma to addiction then sobriety, infidelity to polyamory and, perhaps most intensely of all, from her fear around being a parent to her exquisite joy at having a son.

Tabitha and Magoo Dress Up Too by Michelle Tea & Ellis Van Der Does
(The Feminist Press, 9781936932771, p/b, £15.99)

This is the first of Michelle Tea’s new range of ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ books, authored and illustrated by a range of queer and feminist writers and artists. Each book is looked over by a sensitivity reader to ensure authentic, educational content.

March

A Portrait in Poems: The Storied Life of Getrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas by Evie Robillard and Rachel Katstaller
(Kids Can Press, 9781525300561, h/b, £14.99)

An insider’s tour of the fascinating lives of Gertrude Stein and her partner, Alice B. Toklas. It explores the couple’s art collection, their famous writer and artist friends and even their dog, Basket. A celebration of creativity and the creative process, this original and very readable picture book biography champions two women who dared to live unconventional lives.

Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story by Jacob Tobia
(Putnam, 9780735218840, p/b, £12.99)

Through revisiting their childhood and calling out the stereotypes that each of us have faced, Jacob Tobia invites us to rethink what we know about gender and offers a blueprint for a world free from gender-based trauma. Sissy takes you on a gender odyssey you won’t soon forget. Writing with the fierce honesty, wildly irreverent humour, and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into men and women and guarantees that you’ll never think about gender – both other people’s and your own – the same way again.

Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health edited by Adrian Shanker
(PM Press, 9781629637846, p/b, £18.99)

The contributors to Bodies and Barriers look for tangible improvements, drawing from the history of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. and from struggles against health care bias and discrimination. At a galvanising moment when LGBT people have experienced great strides in lived equality, but our health as a community still lags, here is an indispensable blueprint for change by some of the most passionate and important health activists in the LGBT movement today.

The Amber Garden by Cynthea Masson
(ECW Press, 9781770412750, p/b, £13.99)

The final instalment in the Alchemists’ Council trilogy sees eternal conflicts between the Council and Rebel Branches escalate. Secrets about time travel manipulation and truths about alchemical children are discovered, and a controversial solution to save the dimension is put forward.

This is How the Heart Beats: LGBTQ East Africa by Jake Naughton
(The New Press, 9781620974889, p/b, £19.99)

This Is How the Heart Beats is a portrait by acclaimed photographer Jake Naughton of a group of East Africans who have fled unimaginable abuse in their homeland for the United States, following this community from its darkest moments to an uncertain future. At a time of great uncertainty for both LGBTQ and refugee rights, this work illuminates the stakes for those at the centre of a firestorm.

April

Naamah by Sarah Blake
(Riverhead, 9780525536345, p/b, £12.99)

Meet Naamah, Noah’s wife, the matriarch who kept her family alive as they drifted on an endless sea. Here is a woman torn between faith and fury, lending her strength to her sons and their wives, caring for an unruly menagerie of restless creatures, silently mourning the lover she left behind. In fresh and modern language, Blake revisits the story of the Ark that rescued life on earth, and rediscovers the agonising burdens endured by the woman at the heart of the story. Naamah is a parable for our time: a provocative fable of body, spirit, and resilience.

Auntie Uncle: Drag Queen Hero by Ellie Royce & Hannah Chambers
(Pow!, 9781576879351, p/b, £14.99)

The narrator thinks it’s awesome that his Uncle and his Auntie are the same person. Uncle Leo is an accountant. Auntie Lotta is a fabulous performer. One day Lotta’s family comes to watch her perform at Pride, where she saves the day by stopping a dog crashing a float. The mayor wants to give her a medal for courage and to celebrate with all her friends, but Lotta worries that her Leo friends won’t like her as Lotta. With the help of her nephew they put together a fierce look that is both Leo and Lotta. A sweet, uplifting story about boldly being your true self.

Fiebre Tropical by Juliana Delgado Lopera
(The Feminist Press, 9781936932757, p/b, £15.99)

Uprooted from her comfortable life in Bogotá, Colombia, into an ant-infested Miami townhouse, fifteen-year-old Francisca feels miserable and friendless when her mother is swept up into an evangelical church. There Francisca meets the magnetic Carmen: opinionated and charismatic, and the pastor’s daughter. As her mother’s mental health deteriorates and her grandmother descends into alcoholism, Francisca falls more and more intensely in love with Carmen. To get closer to her, Francisca turns to Jesus to be saved, even as their relationship hurtles toward a shattering conclusion.

Aspara Engine by Bishakh Som
(The Feminist Press, 9781936932818, p/b, £20.99)

The eight delightfully eerie stories in Apsarah Engine are a subtle intervention into everyday reality. A woman drowns herself in a past affair, a tourist chases another guest into an unforeseen past, and a non-binary academic researches postcolonial cartography. Imagining diverse futures and rewriting old mythologies, these comics delve into strange architectures, fetishism, and heartbreak. Painted in rich, sepia-toned watercolours and showcasing a series of fraught, darkly humourous, and seemingly alien worlds, Som captures the weight of twenty-first century life as we hurl ourselves forward into the unknown.

May

A Country for Dying by Abdellah Taïa, trans by Emma Ramadan
(Seven Stories Press, 9781609809904, p/b, £12.99)

Paris, summer of 2010. Zahira is a Moroccan prostitute late in her career whose generosity is her way of defying her humiliation and misery. Her friend Aziz, a male prostitute, admires her and emulates her. Aziz is transitioning from his past as a man into the womanhood of his future, and asks Zahira to help him choose a name for himself as a woman. Motjaba is an Iranian revolutionary, a refugee in Paris, a gay man fleeing his country at the end of his rope, who finds refuge for a few days with Zahira. And then there is Allal, Zahira’s first love, who comes to Paris years later to save their love.

Cockfight by Maria Fernanda Ampuero
(The Feminist Press, 9781936932825, p/b, £18.99)

One of the ten best fiction books of 2018 by the New York Times en Espanol, Cockfight explores the power of the home to both create and destroy those within it. The stories shed light on the grotesque realities of family, coming of age, religion, and class struggle. A family’s maids witness a horrible cycle of abuse, a girl is auctioned off by a gang of criminals, and two sisters find themselves at the mercy of their spiteful brother. With violence masquerading as love, characters spend their lives trapped reenacting their past traumas.

June

The Parting Gift by Evan Fallenberg
(Other Press, 9781635420029, p/b, £12.99)

An unnamed narrator writes a letter to an old college friend, Adam, at whose place he has been crashing since his abrupt return to the States from Israel. Now that the narrator is moving on to a new location, he finally reveals the events that led him to Adam’s door, set in motion by a chance encounter with Uzi, an older man with whom the narrator has just had an intense sexual relationship.

Lived Experience: Reflections on LGBTQ Life by Delphine Diallo
(The New Press, 9781620975800, p/b, £19.99)

Even with the extraordinary strides the LGBTQ movement has made in civil rights, acceptance, and visibility over the past half century, a growing portion of the community remains largely invisible, its concerns relegated to the margins. In the latest in a groundbreaking series of beautiful photobooks on LGBTQ communities around the world – from Russia to Mexico to Japan – French-Senegalese photographer Delphine Diallo centres the voices and lives of older LGBTQ people in the United States.

Morris Kight: Humanist, Liberationist, Fantabulist by Mary Ann Cherry
(Process, 9781934170809, p/b, £19.99)

Morris Kight, a forgotten leader of the early gay rights movement, was the anti-Harvey Milk. He was self-aggrandising, egotistical, and always found the camera. But he turned his unique charisma and organising skills to the 1960s anti-war movement before deciding to come out of the closet and devote the rest of his life to ‘Gay Liberation.’ This led to a new quality of life for homosexuals, liberated homo youths and, eventually, led to the first generation of never-closeted Gays. And for every good thing he did, he took credit for many more.

My Art is Killing Me (And Other Poems) by Amber Dawn
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551527932, p/b, £13.99)

In this, her second poetry collection, Amber Dawn takes stock of the costs of coming out on the page in a heartrendingly honest and intimate investigation of the toll that art making takes on artists. These long poems offer difficult truths within their intricate narratives that are alternately incendiary, tender, and rapturous. In a cultural era when intersectional and marginalised writers are topping bestseller lists, Amber Dawn invites her readers to take an unflinching look at we expect from writers, and from each other.

Vanishing Monuments by John Elizabeth Stintzi
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551528014, p/b, £15.99)

Alani Baum, a non-binary photographer and teacher, hasn’t seen their mother since they ran away with their girlfriend when they were seventeen – almost thirty years ago. But when Alani gets a call from a doctor at the assisted living facility where their mother has been for the last five years, they learn that their mother’s dementia has worsened and appears to have taken away her ability to speak. As a result, Alani suddenly find themselves running away again – only this time, they’re running back to their mother.

We Had No Rules by Corinne Manning
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551527994, p/b, £13.99)

A young teenager stays a step ahead of her parents’ sexuality-based restrictions by running away and learns a very different set of rules. A woman grieves the loss of a sister, a “gay divorce,” and the pain of unacknowledged abuse with the help of a lone wallaby on a farm in Washington State. A professor of women’s and gender studies revels in academic and sexual power but risks losing custody of the family dog. In Corinne Manning’s stunning debut story collection, a cast of queer characters explore the choice of assimilation over rebellion.

July

Where I End and You Begin by Preston Norton
(Disney-Hyperion, 9781484798690, p/b, £8.99)

Ezra is an anxious insomniac with a huge crush on Imogen. Unfortunately, her best friend Wynonna has made a career out of tormenting him. After a solar eclipse, Wynonna and Ezra wake up – body-swapped! They then begin randomly swapping back and forth every day. Ezra soon discovers Wynonna’s crush on his best friend Holden and proposes that he helps her win his heart while they body-swap, on the condition she helps him woo Imogen in return. Wildly entertaining and deeply heartfelt, Where I End and You Begin is a brilliant, unapologetic exploration of what it means to be your best self.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Renaissance of the World by Marwan Kahil & Ariel Vittori (NBM, 9781681122595, p/b, £21.99)

One of the greatest artists of all time, as well as a genius inventor, da Vinci was arrestingly tall and handsome. This comics biography shows the process of his work and his inventions, his persecution as a gay man and how the changing politics of his country and ebbs and flows of those in power affected him and his career. A turbulent story of an exceptional man. Complemented with back matter on his chronology, list of his oeuvres, and more.

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