We’re being spoiled! There’s been a spate of South African and African queer books released over the last few weeks.
Here’s our overview of new LGBT-themed publications that are helping to deepen and expand our diverse community’s literary landscape.
IF I STAY RIGHT HERE
By Chwayita Ngamlana
In If I Stay Right Here, her electric debut novel, Chwayita Ngamlana explores the subjects of loneliness, obsession and sexuality.
The story follows the characters of Shay and Sip. A seemingly shy and innocent journalism student, Shay is sent to a female prison to cover a story on an inmate, but falls in love instead. Two months later, Sippy, Shay’s love interest, is out of prison and they move in together.
On the outside, Sippy is the haunted one in the relationship, but as their love story unfolds, it turns out that Shay has her own secrets.
The characters are very different in class, style, character and education. Their vastly different lives make it challenging for them to be the kind of couple they so desperately want to be. Unable to get themselves untangled from the web they’ve created, Shay and Sip use money, other people and sex to fix things, but is this enough?
Ngamlama has created a world that is somewhere between the present day and a sub-world of delusion. This book will touch anyone who has lost themselves or their loved ones to unhealthy destructive relationships.
Published by BlackBird Books, (Nakhane Touré’s Piggy Boy’s Blues), If I Stay Right Here is available in stores for R195.
QUEER AFRICA 2: NEW STORIES
Edited by Makhosazana Xaba and Karen Martin
The follow-up to the internationally acclaimed 2013 MaThoko’s Books anthology, Queer Africa 2 features twenty-six contributions from eight countries; Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda, and the USA.
The first Queer Africa won the 26th Lambda Literary Award for the fiction anthology category and was translated into Spanish. The anthology is now used to teach literature and queer theory at universities across South Africa.
This new collection aims to offer a refreshing antidote to one-dimensional depictions of African queer identities, bringing together historical and contemporary stories, affirming and disquieting stories, and urban and rural stories.
At its heart, Queer Africa 2 – New Stories celebrates the diversity and fluidity of queer and African identities, offering a sometimes radical re-imagining of life on the continent.
“Central to these stories – and in their attendant relationships – is humanity,” say editors Makhosazana Xaba and Karen Martin. “The writers showcase their artistry in delightful, thought-provoking ways. Themes that run through some of these stories range from disruption and dreams, to longing, lust and love.”
For GALA, home to MaThoko’s Books, Queer Africa 2 represents a further step towards challenging mainstream depictions of sexual and gender diversity. “This publication allows readers to recognise the complexities of our lives – our joys and sorrows, our struggles and triumphs,” says GALA Director Keval Harie.
LITTLE POOF! HOMONOLOGUES
By Bruce J Little
Bruce J Little has been writing and performing his brilliant Little Poof! stage shows on and off around South Africa for years. These intimate productions, often accompanied by songs and even puppets, are brilliant nuggets of insight into LGBT characters and issues that affect us all.
Shamefully, Little’s failed to receive the acclaim that he deserves. This publication, part of the Junket’s Playscript series, is a collection of many of his insightful, moving and often funny “queer-themed monologues for the whole ‘family’”.
The Little Poof! shows have dealt with issues such as homophobia, family abandonment, corrective rape, HIV and other STIs, prejudice, ignorance and gay bashing.
Using a range of cleverly crafted characters and perspectives, Little also explores open relationships, gay culture and the challenging of stereotypes.
This compilation is a must-have to add to the LGBT section of your bookshelf.
To purchase a copy, at R80 (excluding courier fees), contact the publishers on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also collect a copy from the publisher if you’re in Cape Town. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Edited by Sisonke Msimang
Another anthology, Pride and Prejudice, is the first edition in an annual series created in honour of the late activist and author Gerald Kraak.
The kaleidoscopic collection compiles the most exceptional written and photographic entries for the annual Gerald Kraak Award, which was established in 2016 by the Other Foundation, in partnership with the Jacana Literary Foundation.
Offering important African perspectives gathered from the continent, this inaugural edition features works of ﬁction, journalism, photography and poetry. The pieces are multi-layered, brave and stirring.
The subject matter is not exclusively centred on (homo)sexuality and also offers fresh storytelling and provoking thought on broader topics of gender and social justice.
Two of the submissions included in the anthology were chosen as the winners of the 2017 Gerald Kraak Award. They are the short story Poached Eggs, by Kenya’s Farah Ahamed, and Stranger in a Familiar Land, a collection of photographs by Sarah Waiswa, also from Kenya.
The winners were selected by a judging panel made up of distinguished gender activist Sisonke Msimang (chair of the panel and series editor), prominent social and political analyst Eusebius McKaiser, and leading African feminist, Sylvia Tamale.
Pride and Prejudice is available at Exclusive Books for R260.