Today I am so excited to welcome Lia, a booktuber and book blogger, who is also my friend!! In today’s post Lia talks about ‘5 Queer Books that Define An Ode to Fiction’.
But, before I share with you what Lia has written for us today, I want to take a moment to highlight all the spectacular things Lia has done as a booktuber and book blogger. If you haven’t met Lia before today, then I am very excited for you to see the wonderful work she has done!!
Lia’s Booktube, Book Blog, Bookstagram, and Twitter
Okay, so can we all acknowledge how fun Lia’s videos on YouTube are? I genuinely get so excited every time she uploads on her booktube channel!! Please subscribe you will not regret it.
Lia Discusses ‘5 Queer Books that Define An Ode to Fiction’
Hi everyone! Thank you to Kashvi for inviting me into the Misty Realms prompting me to leave my dwelling for a special guest post. If you don’t know, my name is Lia from An Ode to Fiction. As a raging late bloomer bisexual, I woud like to celebrate pride month with five queer books that defined my queer journey to better understand myself. If you follow my blog, I mostly read sci-fi and fantasy but I do make exceptions for certain books that struck me with their brilliance. In this list I will include a variety of genres for all of you so there is something for everyone.
These five books have held me together these past few years and I am so glad I discovered them. Of course, I highly recommend each one of them to any reader but please do check the trigger warnings before you read it.
Happy Stories, Mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu
Happy Stories, Mostly is a collection of short stories by queer Indonesian author Norman Erikson Pasaribu. It is a book that was recently long listed for the Booker Prize. As an Indonesian I am very proud that a book written by a fellow Indonesian is nominated for such a prestigious award. Even though the book didn’t make it into the shortlist, it is still quite an achievement. I read this book on the last days of 2021, it was a good book to end an emotional year with. Reading all the stories compelled me to write a review as soon as possible.
Norman’s background as a poet truly shined within the pages of this book. In each story, Norman constructs the stories with their own signature beat, a melody of absurdism, underlying themes of religion or culture, and lyrics of tragic happiness of queer characters. In the first page of the book Norman says it himself that not every story has a happy ending but readers can interpret each story as achieving some sort of happiness in the end. My favourite pieces are tilted “The True Story of the Story of the Giant”, “So, What’s your name Sandra?”, and “Ad maiorem de gloriam”.
It is a crime to celebrate pride month and not include Norman Erikson Pasaribu, a queer Indonesian writer and poet, as one of the rising stars in the literary industry.
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
Alice Oseman is no stranger in the queer sphere as they are the leading voices in queer literature especially after their smash hit graphic novel series, Heartstopper, is adapted by Netflix. I understand that readers may agree or disagree on which Alice Oseman spoke to them the most. For me though the novels that made me truly love Alice’s writing and characters is Radio Silence.
The premise of Radio Silence is quite different compared to their other books in the same series. The story follows a cast of characters that are in the same universe as Alice Oseman’s other books with mystery behind a certain character’s disappearance. The main focus is Aled’s relationship with Frances. Their friendship throughout the story bloomed from their shared interest which then led to a discovery that became deeper as they opened up to each other.
Mental health, identity, and self discovery are main themes discussed by the characters as most of them are in the phase where they are transitioning from highschool to university. A time frame that is highly relatable for teenagers no matter where they are from. Radio Silence is a book that I wished I discovered when I was in school, even though it is years too late I am still happy I read it.
The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore
The Mirror Season is a book I discovered last year that truly surprised me when I read it. It took me 6-8 hours to finish the audiobook because it was just one of those books that I read at the right time and during the right period in my life. Though I would like to remind readers that this book is filled with trigger warnings so before you decide to read it please check the triggers.
The story of The Mirror Season follows two teenagers that discovers that they are sexually assaulted during a party.The story is told solely from the perspective of Graciela, one of the teens involved, that has a magical ability to make enchanted pastries and cakes.
She loses this ability as the experience of being assaulted triggered her mind to relive that disturbing night. But Graciela slowly gets back into baking when she develops a relationship with a boy that just moved into town, Lock, the boy she met during that party.
This magical realism young adult contemporary has a darker tone considering the premise and themes discussed throughout the story. McLemore’s lyrical writing is raw, emotional, and deeply rooted in their own experience as a survivor of sexual assault. For me personally that is why this story really meant a lot to me as I am also a survivor. In some way this book helped me heal and empowered me when I read it, so it definitely deserves my spotlight.
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker Chan
If anyone asked for a recommendation for an adult fantasy written by a BIPOC author that tackles queer themes I will always point to She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker Chan. Ever since I read She Who Became the Sun it has become my core personality. I made this book my brand, I even included it in my character logo because of how meaningful this book is.
The story of She Who Became the Sun is the reimagining story of the founding Emperor of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, the peasant rebel who expelled the Mongols and unified China. Shelley reimagines Zhu Yuanzhang as the girl that took her brother’s name, Zhu Chongba, and destiny for greatness.
There are many underlying themes in the story but the theme that stood out to me is gender expectations, gender roles, gender identity, and so many more. Shelley took the concept of gender then turned it upside down discussing it in such a manner through their characters and their character arcs. It is just brilliant with every passage I read and highlight.
Honestly, reading She Who Became the Sun it feels like a love letter to the queer community especially for those who identify as gender fluid, gender queer, and non binary.
Seeing characters in a story that breaks the boundary of gender is refreshing to see. Adding to that Parker-Chan weaves in the importance of acting upon one’s desire and to not be held back by society’s expectations regarding one’s purpose and mission in life. How individuals have the power to control and choose their own destiny in their current life.
A Master of Djinn by P Djeli Clark
Another book that I have plugged everywhere, A Master of Djinn by P Djeli Clark. What makes A Master of Djinn so meaningful to me is how effortless and well researched Clark built this world incorporating culture, religion, mythos, and the unapologetically queer characters, all the while celebrating women as main characters.
Clark is the prime example of an amazing writer that can write a story well, down to the tea! And Clark still manages to insert his signature style of writing that is charming, witty, and so accessible that each word forms sentences to paragraphs that are masterfully done.
This novel isn’t P Djeli Clark’s first book in the universe, it is actually the third book but it is the first full length novel. The first two books from the universe are A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. Both are amazing prequels and include characters that will make their appearance in A Master of Djinn. The main characters of the Dead Djinn Universe are Agent Fatma and Siti. Their partnership started when they met in A Dead Djinn in Cairo.
To avoid spoilers you can read the story for FREE on Tor.com’s site, here’s the link https://www.tor.com/2016/05/18/a-dead-djinn-in-cairo/. If you like audiobooks, the length of the novella is under 2 hours and narrated by the most talented narrator Suehyla El-Attar (who also narrated A Master of Djinn) available on Scribd.
They are one of my favorite lesbians in SFF because their relationship is everything and heart warming.
There are underlying themes of anti-colonialism, racism, sexism, misogyny, colorism and so on that are weaved into the world. Without revealing much about the main plot, there is one moment that involved colorism, how one Egyptian woman refused Siti, a character with a darker skin tone, to enter the woman’s house. An act that is fueled by centuries of prejudice and bigotry reminiscent of real life occurrences.
This scene is so memorable to me because of how realistic it is. Then there are also scenes involving a group of white men, colonisers, casually talking about how the Anglo-Saxon are the superior race *eye rolls*. I will say that Clark did a marvellous job in exploring these important relevant themes into his story without making it the centrepiece of the story.
If you enjoyed reading this post and wish to support the blog, please consider checking out my WISHLIST ! You’ll be helping me read and feature more books 🤍
Thank you so much Lia, for visiting Misty Realms and having this discussion with us!! We love and appreciate you so much 💗 HAPPY PRIDE 🏳️🌈