Publications

    We Cast a Shadow
    Ruffin, Maurice Carlos. We Cast a Shadow. New York: One World, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "In a near-future Southern city, everyone is talking about a new experimental medical procedure that boasts unprecedented success rates. In a society plagued by racism, segregation, and private prisons, this operation saves lives with a controversial method–by turning people white. Like any father, our unnamed narrator just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is getting bigger by the day. But in order to afford Nigel's whiteness operation, our narrator must make partner as one of the few black associates at his law firm, jumping through a series of increasingly absurd hoops–from diversity committees to plantation tours to equality activist groups–in a tragicomic quest to protect his son. This electrifying, suspenseful novel is, at once, a razor-sharp satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. In the tradition ofRalph Ellison's Invisible Man, We Cast a Shadow fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love"–
    A Woman is No Man
    Rum, Etaf. A Woman is No Man. New York: Harper, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children – four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear. Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra's oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda's insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can't help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man. But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family – knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future. Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect."–Publisher's description
    Persepolis
    Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis. New York: Pantheon Books, 2003. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    An intelligent and outspoken only child, Satrapi--the daughter of radical Marxists and the great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor--bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.
    Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
    Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return. New York: Pantheon Books, 2004. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    The great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists continues her description of growing up in Tehran--a country plagued by political upheaval and vast contradictions between public and private life.
    The World Doesn't Require You
    Scott, Rion Amilcar. The World Doesn't Require You. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "One of Esquire's Most Anticipated Books of 2019 Breathtakingly imaginative and unapologetically original, The World Doesn't Require You announces a bold, generational talent. Deftly spinning genres of his feverish literary invention, Rion Amilcar Scott creates his very own Yoknapatawpha County with fictional Cross River, Maryland. Established by the leaders of America's only successful slave revolt, the town still evokes the fierce rhythms of its founding. Among its residents are David Sherman, a struggling musician who just happens to be God's last son; Tyrone, a ruthless PhD candidate, whose dissertation about a childhood game ignites mayhem in the neighboring, once-segregated town of Port Yooga; and Jim, an all-too-obedient robot who serves his Master. Culminating with an explosive novella, these haunting stories of the denizens of Cross River serve to explore larger themes of religion, violence, and love–all told with sly humor and a dash of magical realism. Shattering rigid literary boundaries, Scott is "a necessary voice in American literature" (PEN Award citation), a writer whose storytelling gifts the world very much requires"–
    Not Quite Not White: Losing and Finding Race in America
    Sen, Sharmila. Not Quite Not White: Losing and Finding Race in America. New York: Penguin Books, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    At the age of 12, Sharmila Sen emigrated from India to the U.S. The year was 1982, and everywhere she turned, she was asked to self-report her race: on INS forms, at the doctor's office, in middle school. Never identifying with a race in the India of her childhood, she rejects her new "not quite" designation: not quite white, not quite black, not quite Asian, and spends much of her life attempting to blend into American whiteness. But after her teen years trying to assimilate, watching shows like General Hospital and The Jeffersons, dancing to Duran Duran and Prince, and perfecting the art of Jell-O no-bake desserts, she is forced to reckon with the hard questions: What does it mean to be white, why does whiteness retain the magic cloak of invisibility while other colors are made hypervisible, and how much does whiteness figure into Americanness?
    The Kids Are All Right
    Cholodenko, Lisa. The Kids Are All Right. Universal Studios Home Entertainment, 2010. Film @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "Nic (Benning) and Jules (Moore) are your average suburban couple raising their two teens, Joni (Maria Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson). But when the kids secretly track down their "donor dad," Paul (Mark Ruffalo), an unexpected new chapter begins for everyone as family ties are defined and re-defined" – Container.
    The Revisioners
    Sexton, Margaret Wilkerson. The Revisioners. Berkeley, California: Counterpoint, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    In 1925, Josephine is the proud owner of a thriving farm. As a child, she channeled otherworldly power to free herself from slavery. Now, her new neighbor, a white woman named Charlotte, seeks her company, and an uneasy friendship grows between them. But Charlotte has also sought solace in the Ku Klux Klan, a relationship that jeopardizes Josephine's family. Nearly one hundred years later, Josephine's descendant, Ava, is a single mother who has just lost her job. She moves in with her white grandmother Martha, a wealthy but lonely woman who pays her grandchild to be her companion. But Martha's behavior soon becomes erratic, then even threatening, and Ava must escape before her story and Josephine's converge.
    After I Was Raped: The Untold Lives of Five Survivors
    Bhattacheryya, Urmi. After I Was Raped: The Untold Lives of Five Survivors. Pan Macmillan Publishing India, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "What happens after rape?

    In After I Was Raped, we meet five individuals: a four-year-old girl, two Dalit women, an eight-month-old infant and a young professional. Through extensive interviews with them and their families and communities at large, Urmi Bhattacheryya reveals the stories of these survivors of sexual violence, as they recount how their lives and relationships have changed in the aftermath of assault. Shamed, ostracized and weighed down by guilt and depression, they continue to brave the most challenging realities.

    At a time when only high-profile, sensationalized cases of sexual violence provoke a public reaction and many stories go unheard, Bhattacheryya’s sensitive portrayal of the lives of these little-known survivors raises difficult but important questions about our convenient collective amnesia." - provided by publisher.

    Citizen: An American Lyric
    Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf Press, 2014. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "You take in things you don't want all the time. The second you hear or see some ordinary movement, all its intended targets, all the meanings behind the retreating sounds, as far as you are able to see, come into focus. Hold up, did you just hear, did you just say, did you just see, did you just do that? Then the voice in your head silently tells you to take your foot off your throat because just getting along shouldn't be an ambition. --from back cover

    "Claudia Rankine's bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV -- everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person's ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named 'post-race' society." -- from publisher's description.
    Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History
    O'Toole, Corbett Joan. Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History. Fort Worth, TX: Autonomous Press, 2015. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    Uncovering stories about disability history and life, O’Toole shares her firsthand account of some of the most dramatic events in Disability History, and gives voice to those too often yet left out. From the 504 Sit-in and the founding of the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, to the Disability Forum at the International Woman's Conference in Beijing; through dancing, sports, queer disability organizing and being a disabled parent, O’Toole explores her own and the disability community's power and privilege with humor, insight and honest observations.
    My Queer War
    Lord, James. My Queer War. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "A powerful story of sexual awakening during the Second World War from the noted memorist and critic.

    In My Queer War, James Lord tells the story of a young man's exposure to the terrors, dislocations, and horrors of armed conflict.

    In 1942, a timid, inexperienced twenty-one-year-old Lord reports to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to enlist in the U.S. Army. His career in the armed forces takes him to Nevada, California, Boston, England, and, eventually, France and Germany, where he witnesses firsthand the ravages of total war on Europe's land and on its people. Along the way he comes to terms with his own sexuality, experiences the thrill of first love and the chill of disillusionment with his fellow man, and in a moment of great rashness makes the acquaintance of the world's most renowned artist, who will show him the way to a new life.

    My Queer War is a rich and moving record of one man's maturation in the crucible of the greatest war the world has known. If his war is queer, it is because each man's experience is strange in its own way. His is a story of universal significance and appeal, told by a wry and eloquent observer of the world and of himself." - provided by publisher.

    Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive
    Serano, Julia. Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2013. eBook @ Harvard Library [Harvard Key required]Abstract
    Among LGBTQ activists, there is a long history of lesbians and gay men dismissing bisexuals, transgender people, and other gender and sexual minorities. In each case, exclusion is based on the premise that certain ways of being gendered or sexual are more legitimate, natural, or righteous than others. In Excluded, Julia Serano chronicles many of these instances of exclusion and argues that marginalizing others often stems from a handful of assumptions that are routinely made about gender and sexuality.
    We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir
    Habib, Samra. We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir. Toronto: Viking, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "A queer Muslim searches for the language to express her truest self, making peace with her sexuality, her family, and Islam. Growing up in Pakistan, Samra Habib lacks a blueprint for the life she wants. She has a mother who gave up everything to be a pious, dutiful wife and an overprotective father who seems to conspire against a life of any adventure. Plus, she has to hide the fact that she's Ahmadi to avoid persecution from religious extremists. As the threats against her family increase, they seek refuge in Canada, where new financial and cultural obstacles await them. When Samra discovers that her mother has arranged her marriage, she must again hide a part of herself–the fun-loving, feminist teenager that has begun to bloom–until she simply can't any longer. So begins a journey of self-discovery that takes her to Tokyo, where she comes to terms with her sexuality, and to a queer-friendly mosque in Toronto, where she returns to her faith in the same neighbourhood where she attended her first drag show. Along the way, she learns that the facets of her identity aren't as incompatible as she was led to believe, and that her people had always been there–the world just wasn't ready for them yet."– provided by publisher.
    How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir
    Jones, Saeed. How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "Haunted and haunting, Jones's memoir tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence--into tumultuous relationships with his mother and grandmother, into passing flings with lovers, friends and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another--and to one another--as we fight to become ourselves."
    The Voice at the Back Door
    Spencer, Elizabeth. The Voice at the Back Door. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1994. eBook @ Harvard Library [Harvard Key required]Abstract

    In the mid-1950s, the town of Lacey in the Mississippi hill country is a place where the lives of blacks and whites, though seemingly separate, are in fact historically and inevitably intertwined. When Lacey's fair-haired boy, Duncan Harper, is appointed interim sheriff, he makes public his private convictions about the equality of blacks before the law, and the combined threat and promise he represents to the understood order of things in Lacey affects almost every member of the community. In the end, Harper succeeds in pointing the way for individuals, both black and white, to find a more harmonious coexistence, but at a sacrifice all must come to regret.

    In The Voice at the Back Door, Mississippi native Elizabeth Spencer gives form to the many voices that shaped her view of race relations while growing up, and at the same time discovers her own voice -- one of hope. Employing her extraordinary literary powers -- finely honed narrative techniques, insight into a rich, diverse cast of characters, and an unerring ear for dialect -- Spencer makes palpable the psychological milieu of a small southern town hobbled by tradition but lurching toward the dawn of the civil rights movement. First published in 1956, The Voice at the Back Door is Spencer's most highly praised novel yet, and her last to treat small-town life in Mississippi.

    My Body is a Book of Rules
    Washuta, Elissa. My Body is a Book of Rules. Pasadena, CA: Red Hen Press, 2014. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    As Elissa Washuta makes the transition from college kid to independent adult, she finds herself overwhelmed by the calamities piling up in her brain. When her mood-stabilizing medications aren't threatening her life, they're shoving her from depression to mania and back in the space of an hour. Her crisis of American Indian identity bleeds into other areas of self-doubt; mental illness, sexual trauma, ethnic identity, and independence become intertwined. Sifting through the scraps of her past in seventeen formally inventive chapters, Washuta aligns the strictures of her Catholic school education with Cosmopolitan's mandates for womanhood, views memories through the distorting lens of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and contrasts her bipolar highs and lows with those of Britney Spears and Kurt Cobain. Built on the bones of fundamental identity questions as contorted by a distressed brain, My Body Is a Book of Rules pulls no punches in its self-deprecating and ferocious look at human fallibility.

Pages