A witty, compelling and gritty portrait of the AIDs crisis in New York City told through the lens of a love triangle between a lesbian AIDs activist, a bisexual artist and her heterosexual male partner. Through their interactions Sarah Schulman cleverly explores the gap between the middle class art world's liberal complacent mindset and the urgency of AIDs activism as people are literally living and dying on the streets. The inclusion of a Trump-like real estate mogul who refuses to rent out apartments to gay or black men and an intricate direct action plot is informed by Schulman's own involvement in grassroots AIDS activism, giving this book the weight of lived experience. In a real life twist, it is not widely known that Jonathan Larson, the producer of the hit musical Rent, used the exact plot from Schulman's novel but gave her no credit.
A tender, brutal yet beautiful memoir that chronicles Machado's experience of an abusive relationship with another woman. Its form cleverly centres various constructed genres/tropes/literary or cinematic modes as versions of their relationship, either representing or in stark contrast with reality as her partner's behaviour becomes more and more cruel. As well as her own story, Machado examines what she calls the 'archival silence' around abuse in same sex relationships, the barriers to female-reported violence and tropes of queer representation in wider culture. Amazingly the abusive relationship has a real outcome that is one of the most ‘fable’ like parts of this memoir. Machado’s exquisite grasp of form and deep psychological insight makes this one of the most exciting books you’ll read in 2020.
Published by Serpent's Tail on 2nd January 2020
This (Booker Prize shortlisted) novel is a glorious, multi-layered representation of black women in Britain; a playwright, a trans teenager, a single mum, an investment banker, a pensioner. Each character is written in a nuanced way with lives overlapping, while showing the many ways in which they can and can't win. It is undeniably a feminist novel; almost all them are to some extent inhibited by the patriarchy, some characters more brutally than others. Despite difference in class, sexuality, faith, age Evaristo ultimately celebrates individuality, showing that there is not one 'black british female experience' but many, and that they are complex, glorious, real. Highly recommend.