As you might have noticed from our yearly queer lit preview, here at Turnaround we work with an incredible volume of books by and about LGBTQ people. So, since Pride season is well and truly underway, this month we’re highlighting some of our brilliant trans fiction, from form-bending short stories to haunted-house transformative horror.
Future Feeling by Joss Lake
(Soft Skull Press, 9781593766887, p/b, £12.99)
When he’s not walking dogs for cash or responding to booty calls from his B-list celebrity hookup, Pen holes up in his dingy Bushwick apartment obsessing over holograms of Aiden Chase, a fellow trans man and influencer documenting his much smoother transition into picture-perfect masculinity. After an IRL encounter with Aiden leaves Pen feeling especially resentful, he tries to put a hex on Aiden, which misses and hits another young trans man instead. Pen and Aiden must then trace Blithe to a dilapidated motel in California and bring him back to New York, where they try to awkwardly try to pass on what little trans wisdom they possess.
The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya
(ECW, 9781770415256, p/b, £14.99)
Everyone talks about falling in love, but falling in friendship can be just as captivating. When Neela Devaki’s song is covered by internet-famous artist Rukmini, the two musicians meet and a transformative friendship begins. But as Rukmini’s star rises and Neela’s stagnates, jealousy and self-doubt creep in. The Subtweet is notable partly because Rukmini’s transness goes almost entirely unmentioned, allowing for a narrative world in which being trans is not notable – small relief in the current climate.
Small Beauty by Jia Qing Wilson-Yang
(Metonymy Press, 9780994047120, p/b, £12.99)
After the death of her cousin, Mei abandons her life in the city to live in his now-empty house in a small town. There she connects with his history as well as her own, and uncovers her aunt’s long-term secret relationship. As Mei reflects on the trans women she has left behind in the city and explores her own transness, she also unpacks her experiences as a mixed-race person of Chinese descent.
Variations by Juliet Jacques
(Influx Press, 9781910312773, p/b, £9.99)
Journalist Juliet Jacques’ debut short story collection travels from Oscar Wilde’s London to austerity-era Belfast via inter-war Cardiff, a drag bar in Liverpool just after the decriminalisation of homosexuality, Manchester’s protests against Clause 28, and Brighton in the 2000s. In Variations, Jacques rewrites and reinvigorates a history so often relegated to stale police records and sensationalist news headlines.
Transmutation by Alex DiFrancesco
(Seven Stories Press, 9781644210666, p/b, £12.99)
Here is the hate between 16-year-old Junie, who is transitioning, and their mum’s boyfriend Chad when the family moves into Chad’s house on Lake Erie. And here is the love being tested between Sawyer and his dad, who named his boat after his child and resists changing it from Sara to Sawyer now. There is DiFrancesco’s willingness to enter lands that are violent and comfortless in some of these stories, testing the limits of what it means to be human, sometimes returning stronger and sometimes not returning at all as their characters surge forward into unknown spaces.
Tell Me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfitt
(Cipher Press, 9781838390020, p/b, £9.99)
Three years ago, Alice spent one night in an abandoned house with her friends Ila and Hannah. Since then, things have not been going well. Memories of that night torment her mind and her flesh, but when Ila asks her to return to the House, past the KEEP OUT sign, over the sick earth where teenagers dare each other to venture, she knows she must go. Together Alice and Ila must face the horrifying occurrences that happened there, must pull themselves apart from the inside out, put their differences aside, and try to rescue Hannah, who the house has chosen to make it’s own.