This month, Jacobin launched a book series with Verso offering a socialist perspective on cultural, political, and economic issues, including Melissa Gira Grant’s new book on the sex work industry, Playing the Whore: the Work of Sex Work. Grant has written about sex and politics for such outlets as the Nation, the Guardian, $pread and as a contributing editor of Jacobin.
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.