Five translated books for Pride Month

Photo by Carlos de Toro @carlosdetoro on Unsplash

It’s Pride Month! In honour of celebrating Pride Month, I’ll be sharing some LGBTQIA2S+ book recommendations. Keep checking in each week for more recommendations.

LGBTQIA2S+ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit, and plus (anyone who doesn’t fit into one specific category)


Can you believe it’s already June?!

Well here we are, almost halfway through the year. That means it’s time for Pride Month!

I know in the past few years there’s been a heavy focus on “rainbow capitalism” and how corporations put on such a display for Pride Month. It’s obvious that most corporations are only participating in Pride Month as a marketing strategy. But that doesn’t negate the importance of this month.

Pride is an annual recognition of the Stonewall Riots, which marked a significant turning point in LGBTQIA2S+ rights in North America.

Pride started out as a riot and an act of resistance. We don’t want to lose that part of its history.

They were fighting for their human rights, and for others to better understand their humanity.

Around the world

Around the world, LGBTQIA2S+ individuals are still fighting for their rights. Each country has their own history and political climate around LGBTQIA2S+ rights, but all of our rights (and the fights for those rights) are interconnected and dependent on each other.

I believe one of the greatest ways we can improve the world is by having empathy and understanding each others’ experiences. The more we can accept others in all their humanity, the better we are able to listen and support them.

One of the easiest ways to learn about other people’s experiences is to listen to them talk about it. This can be through any kind of media; books, movies, social media, etc. or of course, in person.

Books are a great way to experience the world from a different perspective. Every time you read a book you are seeing the world from the characters’ perspective and getting immersed in their lives. What a great way to see the full spectrum of their humanity; all their feelings, their mistakes, their triumphs, their relationships, and everything else.

These five books are a great way to experience different perspectives of gender, of sexuality, of language, and of culture.

Each of these books are unique and come with an opportunity to learn something new from each.

Five translated books for Pride Month

Here’s a list of five books that have been translated to English and are great to read during Pride Month.

  1. Sphinx by Anne Garréta (1986)
    translated from the French by Emma Ramadan
  2. Notes of a Crocodile / 鱷魚手記 by Qiu Miaojin / 邱妙津 (1994)
    translated from the Chinese (Taiwan) by Bonnie Huie
  3. The Membranes / 膜 by Chi Ta-Wei / 紀大偉 (1995)
    translated from the Chinese (Taiwan) by Ari Larissa Heinrich
  4. A Country for Dying / Un pays pour mourir by Abdellah Taïa (2015)
    translated from the French by Emma Ramadan
  5. Tentacle / La mucama de Omicunlé by Rita Indiana (2015)
    translated from the Spanish (Dominican) by Achy Obejas

Keep reading to find out more about each one. I’ve listed them in order of when they were published

Sphinx (1986)

by Anne Garréta, translated from the French by Emma Ramadan

  • Year Published: 1986
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, lgbtqia+, literary, challenging, informative, reflective, slow-paced
  • Written without any gender markers or pronouns

A landmark literary event: the first novel by a female member of Oulipo in English, a sexy genderless love story.

Sphinx is the remarkable debut novel, originally published in 1986, by the incredibly talented and inventive French author Anne Garréta, one of the few female members of Oulipo, the influential and exclusive French experimental literary group whose mission is to create literature based on mathematical and linguistic restraints, and whose ranks include Georges Perec and Italo Calvino, among others.

A beautiful and complex love story between two characters, the narrator, “I,” and their lover, A***, written without using any gender markers to refer to the main characters, Sphinx is a remarkable linguistic feat and paragon of experimental literature that has never been accomplished before or since in the strictly-gendered French language.

Sphinx is a landmark text in the feminist, LGBT, and experimental literary canons appearing in English for the first time.

Links:

Notes of a Crocodile / 鱷魚手記 (1994)

by Qiu Miaojin (邱妙津), translated from the Chinese (Taiwan) by Bonnie Huie

  • Year Published: 1994 (English version in 2017)
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, classics, lgbtqia+, literary, dark, emotional, reflective, medium-paced
  • Qiu Miaojin was posthumously awarded the China Times Literature Award in 1995 for this book

Set in the post-martial-law era of late 1980s Taipei, Notes of a Crocodile depicts the coming-of-age of a group of queer misfits discovering love, friendship, and artistic affinity while hardly studying at Taiwan’s most prestigious university. Told through the eyes of an anonymous lesbian narrator nicknamed Lazi, Qiu Miaojin’s cult classic novel is a postmodern pastiche of diaries, vignettes, mash notes, aphorisms, exegesis, and satire by an incisive prose stylist and countercultural icon.

Links:

The Membranes / 膜 (1995)

by Chi Ta-Wei (紀大偉), translated from the Chinese (Taiwan) by Ari Larissa Heinrich

  • Year Published: 1995
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, lgbtqia+, science fiction, speculative fiction, dark, mysterious, reflective, medium-paced
  • Classic of queer speculative fiction in Chinese

It is the late twenty-first century, and Momo is the most celebrated dermal care technician in all of T City. Humanity has migrated to domes at the bottom of the sea to escape devastating climate change. The world is dominated by powerful media conglomerates and runs on exploited cyborg labor. Momo prefers to keep to herself, and anyway she’s too busy for other relationships: her clients include some of the city’s best-known media personalities. But after meeting her estranged mother, she begins to explore her true identity, a journey that leads to questioning the bounds of gender, memory, self, and reality.

First published in Taiwan in 1995, The Membranes is a classic of queer speculative fiction in Chinese. Chi Ta-wei weaves dystopian tropes–heirloom animals, radiation-proof combat drones, sinister surveillance technologies–into a sensitive portrait of one young woman’s quest for self-understanding. Predicting everything from fitness tracking to social media saturation, this visionary and sublime novel stands out for its queer and trans themes. The Membranes reveals the diversity and originality of contemporary speculative fiction in Chinese, exploring gender and sexuality, technological domination, and regimes of capital, all while applying an unflinching self-reflexivity to the reader’s own role. Ari Larissa Heinrich’s translation brings Chi’s hybrid punk sensibility to all readers interested in books that test the limits of where speculative fiction can go.

Links:

A Country for Dying / Un pays pour mourir (2015)

by Abdellah Taïa, translated from the French by Emma Ramadan

  • Year Published: 2015
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction. lgbtqia+, emotional, reflective, slow-paced
  • Written by Morocco’s first openly gay writer

An exquisite novel of North Africans in Paris by one of the most original and necessary voices in world literature

Paris, Summer 2010.

Zahira is 40 years old, Moroccan, a prostitute, traumatized by her father’s suicide decades prior, and in love with a man who no longer loves her.

Zannouba, Zahira’s friend and protege, formerly known as Aziz, prepares for gender confirmation surgery and reflects on the reoccuring trauma of loss, including the loss of her pre-transition male persona.

Mojtaba is a gay Iranian revolutionary who, having fled to Paris, seeks refuge with Zahira for the month of Ramadan.

Meanwhile, Allal, Zahira’s first love back in Morocco, travels to Paris to find Zahira.

Through swirling, perpendicular narratives,

A Country for Dying follows the inner lives of emigrants as they contend with the space between their dreams and their realities, a schism of a postcolonial world where, as Ta a writes, So many people find themselves in the same situation. It is our destiny: To pay with our bodies for other people’s future.

Links:

Tentacle / La mucama de Omicunlé (2015)

by Rita Indiana, translated from the Spanish (Dominican) by Achy Obejas

  • Year Published: 2015
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, lgbtqia+, science fiction, adventurous, challenging, medium-paced
  • Experimental science fiction that deals with questions of race, gender, and environmental change

Plucked from her life on the streets of post-apocalyptic Santo Domingo, young maid Acilde Figueroa finds herself at the heart of a Santería prophecy: only she can travel back in time and save the ocean – and humanity – from disaster. But first she must become the man she always was – with the help of a sacred anemone. Tentacle is an electric novel with a big appetite and a brave vision, plunging headfirst into questions of climate change, technology, Yoruba ritual, queer politics, poverty, sex, colonialism and contemporary art. Bursting with punk energy and lyricism, it’s a restless, addictive trip: The Tempest meets the telenovela.

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Final thoughts

I hope you found something of interest in this list of books.

I’m always looking for more suggestions of books to read. I’d love to know which books you love or that you would recommend. Let me know in a comment below!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.