Books

With my PhD in English Literature at Edinburgh University about to begin, I will be reading lots of stuff this year. Do not expect weekly reviews, I do not read quickly. But I will share with you anything interesting I do read, whether it’s a novel that’s in vogue, or something from my course that I think is worth knowing that broadened my horizon. I’ll be reading a lot of things about transgender discourse, but hopefully, a lot of things which aren’t, as well.

Heart of the Race: Black Women's Lives in Britain

Heart-of-the-Race
Heart of the Race: Black Women's Lives in Britain As someone whose childhood was in the 1980s, I remember the decade with rose-tinted glasses: as a child in Wales, you knew that Thatcher(ism) was evil, and you heard about mass unemployment and factory closures – including in my home town with the closure of the local steel plant and coal mines – bu...
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The Other Slavery

The-Other-Slavery-cover
The Other Slavery by Andres Resendez My first feelings about the Native or First Nation Americans come in waves of visualizations. The names different tribes gave to the months: Geese Flying Moon; Strawberry Moon. They conjure up colours and movements come alive upon infinite midnight plains. The cruelty of European settlers intervenes. My reading ...
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Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Umoja Noble

Algorithms-II
  Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble Should the Internet be regulated? It's a question I've never thought about, until recently, and the reading of this book. Here is my review of a book about a topic I can barely talk about without looking like those aged politicians trying to grill Mark Zucker...
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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir

Wrestling-with-the-Devil
  Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir The African voice, in a publishing world dominated by white, straight, and stale, is a precious one, especially on issues of empire and colonialism. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir  serves as a guide for  those wishing  to go ...
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Queer and Trans Artists of Color Vol.2 by Nia King

QT-Vol2
Queer and Trans Artists of Color Vol. 2 by Nia King The significance of this second volume of interviews is tangible in its dedication: 'to all the queer and trans people of color who are fighting displacement in the Bay Area right now and those who have already been displaced.' The American Dream is a hollow thing, a carrot on a fifty-foot rod: mo...
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Queer and Trans Artists of Color

Nia-King
  Queer and Trans Artists of Color: interviews with Nia King As a collection featuring approximately ten transgender artists, as well as several other LGB artists of colour, these interviews provide a trove of valuable insight into the experience of trans and queer people outside the American mainstream. Conducted originally via podcast, they ...
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She Called Me Woman: Nigeria's Queer Women Speak

SheCalledMeWoman_poster
  She Called Me Woman: Nigeria's Queer Women Speak Transgender narratives seldom emerge outside white, Western experience - at least if we're talking about mainstream publishing. African trans, I'm aware only of the occasional documentary, which is what makes this book so especially valuable. An edited collection of personal stories, gathered ...
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Excluded by Julia Serano

Julia-Serano-Excluded-2013
Excluded by Julia Serano When she poetry-slams , the conviction and the eloquence Julia Serano possesses as a writer is there for all to see. Her style of fierce, funny, thoughtful insights is also present in Excluded (2013), arguably Serano's transgender manifesto, with a particular focus on issues of trans exclusion and commun...
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Janet Mock: Redefining Realness

Janet-Mock--Wendi-collage
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock Transgender autobiographies are dominated by whiteness. There's no need to set out a list, suffice to say that since the trans memoir began with Lili Elbe's Man Into Woman (1931), publishers have sought out the safest, most marketable kind of representation of trans to a white, heteronormative majority. This makes ...
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Trap Door

Trap-Door
Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (MIT, 2017) We are living in a time of trans visibility. Yet we are also living in a time of anti-trans violence . So begins Trap Door , a 400-page anthology of interviews, essays and reviews of the experiences of predominantly African-American and Latino transgender people in the ...
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On Sarah McBride and Tomorrow Will Be Different

Sarah-McBride-Viral
On Sarah McBride and Tomorrow Will Be Different Should trans people be visibly trans, or should they pass, and disappear into the gender binary? What about the role models, representing us in the media? Does it matter that they look so perfectly cis-gendered? These are some of my reflections as I read this week Tomorrow Will Be Different (2018), th...
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George Monbiot: How Did We Get Into This Mess?

Monbiot
George Monbiot: How Did We Get Into This Mess? The raison d'etre of this collection of essays comes in the final chapter in a book looking for answers as to the state of the world today: In the United States, blue-collar workers angrily demand that they be left without health care, and insist that millionaires should pay less tax . . . What has hap...
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Naomi Klein: No Is Not Enough

Naomi-Klein
Naomi Klein: No Is Not Enough I've been taking in books instead of movies, recently quite political ones, Christmas treats that I got for myself and am working through. Finally, I have something I want to write about. Naomi Klein's No Is Not Enough is the one book I'd recommend to anyone. It's a brilliant deconstruction of Trump and his P...
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Vested Interests by Marjorie Garber (non-fiction)

Vested Interests by Marjorie Garber (non-fiction)
26.09.16: Marjorie Garber's Vested Interests One of the most significant studies of transgender identity in popular fiction, Vested Interests is a treasure trove of information about pop culture's various depictions of transgender identity. Much more than Gilbert and Gubar's essay on cross-dressing, Garber spotlights not only transvestism but also ...
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Gilbert & Gubar: Cross-dressing and Re-dressing (non-fiction)

Gilbert & Gubar: Cross-dressing and Re-dressing (non-fiction)
26.09.16: Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, Cross-dressing and Re-dressing Within the second volume of No Man's Land is this essay, an intensively researched investigation by Gilbert and Gubar (G&G) on the history of gender switching in English literature. Most useful is the sheer depth and detail of the history of cross-dressing in literature, t...
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Venus as a Boy by Luke Sutherland

Venus as a Boy by Luke Sutherland
​Reviewed 23/09/2016 How to categorize this story? It has moments of magical realism, as well as gritty darkness: bullying, racism, homophobia and rape. It's about a protagonist who becomes a prostitute and turns to gold, and whose sexual contact allows people to see heaven. It is only a novella, but has resonated with me since I first read it back...
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James Miranda Barry by Patricia Duncker

James Miranda Barry by Patricia Duncker
James Miranda Barry, by Patricia Duncker, 22.09.16 History has few transgender stories of reliable information, with as much myth as there is fact. Might this be due to the influence of religion on the written word before the twentieth century? Historical accounts have little to say about pregnant popes and cross-dressing royalty, not just in relat...
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The Danish Girl

The Danish Girl
Transgender identity in the twenty-first century is a fragmented thing. Is your gender identity something you're born with, or something you acquire? Is it a bit of both? It's interesting to look at literature from different periods to see whether the depiction is more ​ essentialist ​  or its theoretical opposite,  social construction ,&...
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Allyson Stack’s Under the Heartless Blue and Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings

Allyson Stack’s Under the Heartless Blue and Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings
Who has time to read fiction? A quick Internet search will tell you that in 2013, 184,000 books were published in the UK, and in the US, 304,912. Where do you start? It's difficult to find the time, especially if it's a novel that stretches beyond the 400-page boundary. I'll start in this first posting on literature with a disclosure that one of th...
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