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.
On a far-future earth whose inhabitants suffer through perpetual cycles of environmental catastrophe, a mother and daughter are torn apart by the forces of a society built upon violent systemic oppression and voracious exploitation of natural resources. Their journey towards healing the wounds of the past will also become a quest to heal the wounds of the planet itself, uncovering in the process the foundational myths that have brought humanity to the brink of extinction.
A truly phenomenal reading experience, the Broken Earth series succeeds in weaving the indelible minutia of familial bonds with a profound reimagining of what it means to live as planetary beings, cut through with truly radical characterisation and centred around an incredibly rich, nuanced, and affective emotional core. Unbound by the limits of genre, this is peerless emancipatory world-building on a vast scale.
Published by Orbit
At 105 pages, Isabel Waidner’s second novel for micropress Dostoyevsky Wannabe serves as a conveniently-sized companion for those moments of extreme Brexit-anxiety when comfort can only conceivably be found in queer migrant accounts of hocking bootleg high-end sportswear on the Isle of Wight. The wild, weird tale of cultural resistance I needed most in 2019.