I read a lot of crime fiction. Like many avid readers, I look back at the end of the year to see which books made the greatest impression on me and share my top 10 online. This year, I was shocked to realize that this only three of my top ten reads were by women.
Recently, I talked with Indian-American romance novel author Suleikha Snyder about her work writing romance tales starring people of color. “Don't people like me deserve a happy ending, too?” she said. This same question should be asked for people across the spectrum of sexuality, especially in the romance where the plot is often built around relationships leading to either tragecy or happy endings.
There are lots of romance novels featuring LGBTQ characters, but readers likely have to seek them out. Last week, I interviewed two editors at specialty romance presses about the queer-centric titles they publish.
If you are standing in line at the grocery store, you may find yourself face to face with the covers of popular romance novels. Odds are, the characters on the covers of those grocery-store books and the authors who penned them are all white.
But if you take the time to look more deeply and more expansively in the romance genre, you will quickly discover a whole of literature from authors of color and novels starring characters of color.
“I wanted to put a book together that would be a timeless resource for survivors,” says Lisa Factora-Borchers, editor of new collection Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence (AK Press). “It’s not a book about trauma, it’s not a book about all the moving pieces of rape. It’s letters about survival.”
For the week around Valentine’s Day, writer Jessica Luther is writing a series of three articles about gender, race, and sexuality in romance novels. This is the first article in the series.
Romance novels are incredibly popular. Millions of people—mainly women—read them each year, generating billions of dollars in sales annually. Romance novels are the largest share of the fiction market. And the vast majority of these novels feature white, heterosexual, typically thin, not poor, educated, able-bodied protagonists.
But there is an exciting thing happening in romance these days: if you know where to look, you can find are a wide variety of novels that feature people of color, queer relationships, fat characters, and/or protagonists with blue-collar jobs.
Did you know the American Library Association has a Feminist Task Force? Of course they do. Each year, a group of people from this task force undertake a mission called the Amelia Bloomer Project where they name the best feminist books of the year for young readers.
Brooklyn-based literary magazine n+1 has a small new book out this month that chronicles 13 smart women talking about literature.
The slim No Regretsis a set of three transcribed roundtable discussions with 12 participants (all writers, editors, activists, artists, and academics) and moderator Dayna Tortorici about what the women recall from their lives and reading lists in their early twenties.
Read an excerpt from No Regrets about trying to read On the Road and other dude-centric books.
The literary world gained a valuable new addition last week with the launch of new literary journal THEM, which focuses on the work of transgender writers.
Debuting on December 13, THEM proclaims itself to be the nation's first literary journal to specifically focus on trans* voices. While there arenumerous literary journals that highlight LGBT issues and writers, and a couple trans*-focusedanthologies, THEM is the first American journal that publishes only the work of people who identify as "within the trans* umbrella" (using the term "trans*" with the asterisk to include who have non-binary transgender identities). The volunteer-run biannual journal features writers from around the country, seeking to create a space that amplifies trans* voices.