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New Month! New books! February is upon us and so are a slew of new and noteworthy LGBT books.
Novelist Rabih Alameddine’s long-awaited new novel, An Unnecessary Woman, is being released this month by Grove Atlantic. The novel is a stunning character portrait, an astute snapshot of contemporary Beirut, and a lyrical testament to the power of literature.
From Grove Atlantic:
One of the Middle East’s most celebrated voices, Rabih Alameddine follows his bestseller, The Hakawati, with a heartrending novel that celebrates the singular life of an obsessive introvert, revealing Beirut’s beauties and horrors along the way.
Aaliya Sohbi lives alone in her Beirut apartment, surrounded by stockpiles of books. Godless, fatherless, childless, and divorced, Aaliya is her family’s “unnecessary appendage.” Every year, she translates a new favorite book into Arabic, then stows it away. The thirty-seven books that Aaliya has translated over her lifetime have never been read—by anyone. After overhearing her neighbors, “the three witches,” discussing her too-white hair, Aaliya accidentally dyes her hair too blue.
In this breathtaking portrait of a reclusive woman’s late-life crisis, readers follow Aaliya’s digressive mind as it ricochets across visions of past and present Beirut. Colorful musings on literature, philosophy, and art are invaded by memories of the Lebanese Civil War and Aaliya’s own volatile past. As she tries to overcome her aging body and spontaneous emotional upwellings, Aaliya is faced with an unthinkable disaster that threatens to shatter the little life she has left.
The personal, political, and spiritual collide in a new memoir by writer Michelle Theall. In Teaching the Cat: A Memoir (Gallery Books), Theall grapples with the conflicting strains of family, religion, and self-determination.
From the publisher:
Even when society, friends, the legal system, and the Pope himself swing toward acceptance of the once unacceptable, Michelle Theall still waits for the one blessing that has always mattered to her the most: her mother’s. Michelle grew up in the conservative Texas Bible Belt, bullied by her classmates and abandoned by her evangelical best friend before she’d ever even held a girl’s hand. She was often at odds with her volatile, overly dramatic, and depressed mother, who had strict ideas about how girls should act. Yet they both clung tightly to their devout Catholic faith—the unifying grace that all but shattered their relationship when Michelle finally admitted she was gay.
Years later at age forty-two, Michelle has made delicate peace with her mother and is living her life openly with her partner of ten years and their adopted son in the liberal haven of Boulder, Colorado. But when her four-year-old’s Catholic school decides to expel all children of gay parents, Michelle tiptoes into a controversy that exposes her to long-buried shame, which leads to a public battle with the Church and a private one with her parents. In the end she realizes that in order to be a good mother, she may have to be a bad daughter.
Beloved author Edmund White regales readers with stories from his years spent in the “City of Light” in his latest memoir, Inside a Pearl: My Paris Years (Bloomsbury). With wit and pathos,White skillfully unpacks his years spent in Paris during the early 80s.
From the publisher:
Edmund White was forty-three years old when he moved to Paris in 1983. He spoke no French and knew just two people in the entire city, but soon discovered the anxieties and pleasures of mastering a new culture. White fell passionately in love with Paris, its beauty in the half-light and eternal mists; its serenity compared with the New York he had known.
Intoxicated and intellectually stimulated by its culture, he became the definitive biographer of Jean Genet, wrote lives of Marcel Proust and Arthur Rimbaud, and became a recipient of the French Order of Arts and Letters. Frequent trips across the Channel to literary parties in London begot friendships with Julian Barnes, Alan Hollinghurst, Martin Amis and many others. When he left, fifteen years later, to return to the US, he was fluent enough to broadcast on French radio and TV, and as a journalist had made the acquaintance of everyone from Yves St Laurent to Catherine Deneuve to Michel Foucault. He’d also developed a close friendship with an older woman, Marie-Claude, through whom he’d come to a deeper understanding of French life.
Inside a Pearl vividly recalls those fertile years, and offers a brilliant examination of a city and a culture eternally imbued with an aura of enchantment.
This month, writer and activist Janet Mock revisits her past and her road to self-actualization in the new memoir Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More (Atria).
In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Those twenty-three hundred words were life-altering for the People.com editor, turning her into an influential and outspoken public figure and a desperately needed voice for an often voiceless community. In these pages, she offers a bold and inspiring perspective on being young, multicultural, economically challenged, and transgender in America.
Welcomed into the world as her parents’ firstborn son, Mock decided early on that she would be her own person—no matter what. She struggled as the smart, determined child in a deeply loving yet ill-equipped family that lacked the money, education, and resources necessary to help her thrive. Mock navigated her way through her teen years without parental guidance, but luckily, with the support of a few close friends and mentors, she emerged much stronger, ready to take on—and maybe even change—the world.
In the new collection The Queer Caribbean Speaks: Interviews with Writers, Artists, and Activists (Palgrave Macmillan), scholar Kofi Omoniyi Sylvanus Campbell spotlights the often unexplored queer life in the Caribbean.
This book is born out of the near-silence surrounding the lives of queer Caribbean citizens and collects interviews with writers, activists, and citizens to challenge the dominance of Euro-American theories in understanding global queerness. These interviews gives voice to those who live and work on the front lines of the battle for the recognition of LGBT rights in the region, with the hope that their voices will bring wider awareness of, and shed light on, the problems faced by LGBT Caribbean citizens.
As always, if we missed an author or book, or if you have a book coming out next month, please email us.