A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Summer Book Bingo: Trans or Non-Binary Author

With summer here, we’re busy playing 2020 Summer Book Bingo, our free summer reading program with The Seattle Public Library! Download your card here. Engage with other bingo players and find out their own reading adventures by using the hashtag #BookBingoNW2020 on social media.

Danielle Palmer-Friedman, friend of SAL, joins us on the SAL/on blog today for suggestions for your “Trans or Non-Binary Author” square. Crossing the genres of fantasy, fiction, romance, and critical theory, Danielle calls this post “a very short list of books for your ‘Trans or Non-Binary Author’ square that I swear will be just as important after Summer Book Bingo ends.”

By Danielle Palmer-Friedman

Sarah Gailey, Magic for Liars

Sarah Gailey’s book Magic for Liars is the grownup replacement for the Harry Potter series you didn’t know you needed in your life. The story, a mystery that will have you combing back through pages just to check for clues, takes place in a school for mages. Unfortunately for protagonist and narrator Ivy, magic skipped her embryo and landed entirely in her twin sister’s court. Still, she tries to use her skills as a private eye to crack the case of a murder at the magical school where her sister teaches. The book is unpretentious, earnest, and laden with self-deprecating humor.

JY Yang, The Black Tides of Heaven

Looking for something you can start now and settle into later? JY Yang’s The Black Tides of Heaven is one of two opening novellas to their Tensorate series, which takes place in a world where children are born without gender and choose to become men or women later in life. This story focuses on a pair of twins, Mokoya and Akeha, who grow apart as they grow older. Mokoya has a prophetic gift; Akeha has to find their way out of Mokoya’s shadow and into their own path. With the strategic use of time jumps, Yang reminds the reader how your childhood experiences shape the person you become. Meanwhile, the world Yang builds is rich, vibrant, and just waiting to be explored more.

Akwaeke Emezi, Freshwater

Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater is an autobiographical novel that deals with prolonged trauma and a shattered sense of self. Ada, the protagonist, is, as described by Emezi, “a singular collective and plural individual.” Ada is born in Nigeria and moves to the United States for college, but Freshwater is not a linear narrative. It blooms and breaks, snaps and flourishes, swaying back and forth and side to side.  What results is, as the New York Times puts it, “an unflinching account of the way mental illness can grow, transform and destroy not just relationships, but one’s sense of self as well.” Emezi’s writing style is lyrical yet sticky, like walking through mud. It takes concentration and care to pass through, but it’s worth every step.

Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Micha Cárdenas, Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility

The representation of trans people in pop culture is opening up to better, truer, less harmful depictions. Simultaneously, violence toward trans people is also increasing, with BIPOC trans people being hurt the most. Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility is a collection of essays that explores this paradox, focusing on the idea that each opened door for the trans community doesn’t lead into salvation, but instead entraps trans people into dangerous, dominant norms. With more than 30 contributors, and edited by trans activists and writers Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Micha Cárdenas, Trap Door offers a dense, varied, and important foothold into a conversation about normativity and finding space for trans people outside it.

Kacen Callender, Felix Ever After

It’s summer—read a love story. Read the love story of a Black, transgender, queer teen because that’s the story you need to hear. Kacen Callender’s Felix Ever After will beam your heart full of love and pride and hope and promise. (Yes, I promise, it really is that uplifting). This is the book for anyone who has ever struggled to find themselves, dealt with bullies, transitioned, had their heartbroken, been catfished, had top surgery, or were encouraged to, rightfully, believe in themselves. This book has all the messy chaos of teenage angst combined with the genuine, heartfelt, and intoxicating beauty that comes with Callender’s Lambda and Stonewall Award-winning writing. Celebrate queer love, celebrate transgender love, and fall in love with Callender’s character, Felix Love.

Looking for more recommendations for trans or non-binary authors? Check out The Seattle Public Library’s suggestions for this category here.

Posted in Summer Book Bingo