READ­ING IS FUN­DA­MEN­TAL

Your monthly roundup of queer lit­er­a­ture.

Gay Times Magazine - - ESSAYS - Zainab Juma Cre­ative Man­ager, Pen­guin

Ill­ness as Metaphor and AIDS and its Me­taphors Su­san Son­tag

When Su­san Son­tag was di­ag­nosed with breast can­cer, she be­came more sen­si­tive to the lan­guage sur­round­ing ill­ness. The me­taphors and eu­phemisms, pitch­ing the ill against their ill­ness in some epic bat­tle, served only to in­hibit those who might seek help and ac­knowl­edge their vul­ner­a­bil­ity. As the AIDS pan­demic hit, Son­tag used her ex­pe­ri­ences to try and un­der­stand the psy­chol­ogy of a com­mu­nity un­der siege.

Don’t Call Us Dead Danez Smith

“I’m not the kind of black man who dies on the news. / i’m the kind who grows thin­ner & thin­ner & thin­ner / un­til light out­weighs us.” This For­ward Prize-win­ning col­lec­tion is char­ac­terised by volatile, skip­ping verse with bursts of un­ex­pected joy. Smith’s HIV di­ag­no­sis is com­bined with com­men­tary on the po­si­tion of black men in Amer­ica to chron­i­cle the vi­o­lence meted out upon black bod­ies.

The Swim­ming-Pool Li­brary Alan Hollinghurst

Our hero Will’s sex­ual awak­en­ing in Hollinghurst’s first novel hap­pens against the back­drop of the last sum­mer before the AIDS cri­sis took hold. This is a dark, vi­o­lent and erotic story, a tale of des­per­ate car­nal thirst quenched in the shad­ows, as Will strikes up an un­easy friend­ship with an older man who re­mem­bers too vividly a world before de­crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion.

Moxy­land Lau­ren Beukes

Orig­i­nally pub­lished ten years ago, this steam­punk fu­tur­is­tic dystopia en­vi­sions a slightly too real fu­ture vi­sion of Cape Town, where your race, class, health and ac­cess to tech­nol­ogy de­ter­mine your po­si­tion. Amongst a cast of four char­ac­ters stru‘ling against so­ci­ety’s stric­tures we find Ler­ato, an AIDS or­phan who is re­solved to al­ter her fate.

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