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FOR THE PERSON WHO CANNOT READ ANOTHER BOOK FROM THE CANON

1. Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash

Foxcatcher meets The Art of FieldingStephen Florida follows a wrestler in North Dakota during his senior season, when every practice, every match, is a step closer to greatness and a step further from sanity. Profane, manic, and tipping into the uncanny, it’s a story of loneliness, obsession, and the drive to leave a mark.

2. Of One Blood by Pauline E. Hopkins

Of One Blood is a 1902 novel by Pauline E. Hopkins, one of the earliest works of science fiction by an African American writer. Combining themes of racial identity and passing within a genre-blending narrative of Gothic horror and the occult, Hopkins weaves a masterful tale of conspiracy, a lost African kingdom, and murder.

3. The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine

By National Book Award and the National Book Critics’ Circle Award finalist for An Unnecessary Woman, Rabih Alameddine, comes a transporting new novel about an Arab American trans woman’s journey among Syrian refugees on Lesbos island. The Wrong End of the Telescope is a bedazzling tapestry of both tragic and amusing portraits of indomitable spirits facing a humanitarian crisis.

4. Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions by Sheila O’Connor

In an ambitious blend of fact and fiction, including family secrets, documents from the era, and a thin, fragmentary case file unsealed by the court, novelist Sheila O’Connor tells the riveting story of V, a talented fifteen-year-old singer in 1930s Minneapolis who aspires to be a star. Inspired by O’Connor’s research on her unknown maternal grandmother and the long-term effects of intergenerational trauma, Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions is a poignant excavation of familial and national history that remains disturbingly relevant—a harrowing story of exploitation and erasure, and the infinite ways in which girls, past and present, are punished for crimes they didn’t commit.

5. The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

With its blend of sympathetic characters, riveting plot, and vibrant engagement with everything from jazz, to climate change, to our attachment to material possessions, The Book of Form and Emptiness is classic Ruth Ozeki—bold, wise, poignant, playful, humane and heartbreaking. 

6. Afterparties: Stories by Anthony Veasna So

Seamlessly transitioning between the absurd and the tenderhearted, balancing acerbic humor with sharp emotional depth, Afterparties offers an expansive portrait of the lives of Cambodian-Americans. As the children of refugees carve out radical new paths for themselves in California, they shoulder the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide and grapple with the complexities of race, sexuality, friendship, and family.

7. Arborescent by Marc Herman Lynch

Ghosts, doppelgängers, and a man who turns into a tree: a startling fiction debut that strives to articulate the Asian immigrant body. In Marc Herman Lynch’s debut novel, some people explode, and others come back to life, but at the heart of it all are the fleeting yet indelible connections we make with one another. Darkly funny, lyrically charged, and gothically absurd, Arborescent is a raw and brilliantly imagined depiction of our disconnected contemporary world.

8. Before Stonewall by Edward M. Cohen

At once light and aching, Before Stonewall gives voice to a generation of men whose homosexuality forced them into lives of public exile. These stories articulate the tragic comedy of young love, the many ways to lose a family, and the rigid anxiety that comes from the fear of expressing too much. Set against a backdrop of New York’s theater scene and looming McCarthyism, this book is about everything love is up against and the smoldering, dormant rebellion in the time before Stonewall.

9. Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger by Brontez Purnell

A dirty cult-classic put out in a small batch by an underground publisher (Rudos and Rubes) in 2015, Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger recounts the life of an artist and “old school homosexual” who bears a big resemblance to author Brontez Purnell. Our hero doesn’t trust the new breed of fags taking over San Francisco, though. They wear bicycle helmets, seat belts, and condoms. Meanwhile, he sabotages his relationships, hallucinating affection while cruising in late night parks, bath-houses, and other nooks and crannies of a newly-conservative, ruined city.

10. Daughter of Earth by Agnes Smedley

This gritty, sweeping novel recreates the life story of an American working-class woman and burgeoning political activist in the early twentieth century. First released in 1929, Daughter of Earth remains a seminal work of American socialist literature. This semiautobiographical account of an early twentieth-century activist describes growing up in rural poverty in farming settlements and mining towns; discovering the double standards of race and sex among East Coast intellectuals; facing false espionage charges; and maintaining her independence through two tormented marriages.

HOLIDAY 2021 GIFT GUIDE: REFORMED LIT MAJOR
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