Int’l GayLit Round-Up

Crocodile 400 x 250

Qiu Miaojin, Notes of a Crocodile, New York Review Books. Qui’s second novel appears in English for the first time. A queer cult figure in the Chinese-speaking world, the Taiwanese author died young in 1995 and most of her work has been published posthumously. One of her translators considers her work here.

Peter Ackroyd, Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day, Chatto & Windus. The prolific British author chronicles 2,000 years of queer history.

Pajtim Statovci, My Cat Yugoslavia, Pantheon. A gay Muslim from Kosovo who grows up in Finland tries to make sense of his experience with the help of an immigrant-hating cat.

Édouard Louis, The End of Eddy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. A working class boy grows up gay in a violent, troubled community in northern France. A big hit in France, where the setting is thought to clarify the rise of the far-right, it’s been translated into more than 20 languages.

Simon Goldhill, A Very Queer Family Indeed, University of Chicago Press. Most of the kids in the Benson family were queer and everyone in this prominent Victorian clan was interesting. Arthur (A.C.) Benson edited Queen Victoria’s letters. His brother Fred (E.F.) Benson wrote the cutely camp Mapp and Lucia novels. There’s a great review by Philip Hensher here.

Richard Rodriguez …

… has a new book out, a collection of essays called Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography. Should be good. A gay American of Mexican descent, Rodriguez always has some smart things to say about race and identity, usually contrarian. For him the clash of cultures is less war than erotic entanglement. “What Latin America might give the United States,” he noted in his last book, Brown, “is a playful notion of race. Already the definitive blond in America is Tina Turner.” The title essay of the new book appeared in the July issue of Harper’s, but I guess they’d prefer you buy the whole deal. Non-subscribers only get a sneak peak.

Courage

If you’ve forgotten how much gumption it once took to be gay, read Susan Mabey’s account of her struggle to be a United Church minister in the early 1980s. It’s part of a package in the church’s house magazine celebrating the 25th anniversary of the historic 1988 decision that allowed openly gay men and women to become ministers in the United Church of Canada and it also includes a profile of Tim Stevenson, the first gay person to benefit from that decision. As usual, the pioneers are among the last to benefit from their actions. Mabey was eventually ordained in the Metropolitan Community Church but she remains mildly alienated from the United Church. She is now a teacher.