I love non-fiction so much that it can be a struggle to get myself to read fiction as well. I find a good mix of genre/medium keeps me a happy reader, though, so I make an effort to push myself out of my non-fiction comfort zone. Here are three novels I currently have out from the library and hope to read soon.
(Note: Some of my blurbs include "spoilers," since I've read about the books in non-fiction works.)
by Gayl Jones
Beacon Press, 1976
Eva's Man is analyzed in Trimiko Melancon's Unbought and Unbossed: Transgressive Black Women, Sexuality, and Representation, a book I read recently, as an example of--and maybe this is obvious from the title--a representation of a transgressive black woman. Eva survives sexual abuse at the hands of her father (and others), and ends up imprisoned for the brutal murder of a male lover. This book is notable for ending with Eva engaged in a sexual relationship with her woman cellmate; it's considered one of the earliest published novels to feature a black queer woman. As you can imagine, however, the portrayal is not universally celebrated. Beverly Smith, in the essay "The Truth That Never Hurts: Black Lesbians in Fiction in the 1980s" (which inspired the name of the collection of her work it's featured in, The Truth That Never Hurts: Writings on Race, Gender, and Freedom, another book I finished recently), says Jones "has portrayed lesbians quite negatively" (49). With these variant perspectives, I'll have to read Eva's Man for myself.
Hanging by Her Teeth
by Bonnie Greer
Serpent's Tail, 1994
The novel takes its title from the Degas painting Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando (1879), which
|Degas, Miss La La Land at the Cirque Fernando (1879)|
The cover, however, does not display Degas' painting. Instead, it features a lush 1940 painting Nude (Mahlinda) by Harlem Renaissance artist William H. Johnson, which sends a completely different message. The woman here stares straight out at the viewer, a hint of a smile at her lips. She is confident. She is relaxed. She is as bold as the red and green and orange and blue and brown paints used by the artist.
Despite the differences in the perspective of the paintings, they are still both painting of women by men. I'm interested in finding out how Greer bridges the two disparate view points.
by Cherry Muhanji
Aunt Lute Books, 1990
This book about different generations of black women in 1950s Detroit won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Debut. I don't know much more than that just yet, except that the person on the cover is dreamy. That's more than enough for me.