In September we have both Sapphic September all month (hosted by Iandice) and the Latinx Book Bingo from Sept 15 to Oct 15 (hosted by Sofia and Paola), and every year from mid September until end of September I try to find a few books that fit both readathons so I can make DOUBLE progress – so I thought I’d share them with you! I have a few more on my TBR, but I don’t want to recommend books I haven’t read yet. I am adding to the Latinx umbrella also Latinx diaspora. This is a short list but I am working on expanding it!
It Is Wood, It Is Stone by Gabriella Burnham
This novel will work better if you are not a Brazilian reader, in my opinion, and would like to travel there one day; you get to see a bit of São Paulo, get to know a bit of the culture and so on, but for a Brazilian reader the exposition will be a bit redundant and not quite going deep enough. If you enjoy contemporaries leaning a bit towards literary fiction, you might enjoy this!
With sharp, gorgeous prose, It Is Wood, It Is Stone takes place over the course of a year in São Paulo, Brazil, in which two women’s lives intersect.
Linda, an anxious and restless American, has moved to São Paulo, with her husband, Dennis, who has accepted a yearlong professorship. As Dennis submerges himself in his work, Linda finds herself unmoored and adrift, feeling increasingly disassociated from her own body. Linda’s unwavering and skilled maid, Marta, has more claim to Linda’s home than Linda can fathom. Marta, who is struggling to make sense of complicated history and its racial tensions, is exasperated by Linda’s instability. One day, Linda leaves home with a charismatic and beguiling artist, whom she joins on a fervent adventure that causes reverberations felt by everyone, and ultimately binds Marta and Linda in a profoundly human, and tender, way.
An exquisite debut novel by young Brazilian American author Gabriella Burnham, It Is Wood, It Is Stone is about women whose romantic and subversive entanglements reflect on class and colorism, sexuality, and complex, divisive histories.
In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
One of the best non-fictions I’ve ever read! The way the author manages to mix writing styles makes this both an interesting and a very absorbing read. This is a heartbreaking memoir about the author’s experience with an abusive relationship and it was truly a wonderful (and sad) read.
For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.
Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez
One of my favorite short story collections of all time! I love horror and Mariana Enriquez managed to infuse her stories with such perfect atmosphere for the Latin American horror stories I heard as a kid, it was like being transported back in time to when I whispered stories with my friends. Such a treasure. Some of the stories are Sapphic but not all of them.
In these wildly imaginative, devilishly daring tales of the macabre, internationally bestselling author Mariana Enriquez brings contemporary Argentina to vibrant life as a place where shocking inequality, violence, and corruption are the law of the land, while military dictatorship and legions of desaparecidos loom large in the collective memory. In these stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortázar, three young friends distract themselves with drugs and pain in the midst a government-enforced blackout; a girl with nothing to lose steps into an abandoned house and never comes back out; to protest a viral form of domestic violence, a group of women set themselves on fire.
But alongside the black magic and disturbing disappearances, these stories are fueled by compassion for the frightened and the lost, ultimately bringing these characters—mothers and daughters, husbands and wives—into a surprisingly familiar reality. Written in hypnotic prose that gives grace to the grotesque, Things We Lost in the Fire is a powerful exploration of what happens when our darkest desires are left to roam unchecked, and signals the arrival of an astonishing and necessary voice in contemporary fiction.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera
I read this book a while ago so I don’t remember it so well anymore, but I DO remember thinking it was a lovely coming-of-age story about finding your community. It was a very nice read!
Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.
Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?
With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
Only one of two stories are actually Sapphic, but Carmen Maria Machado herself is a Sapphic author, so I am counting this one in. I love horror short stories and this was a very eclectic and strong debut!
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.
A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.
Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.