A great article on trying to pinpoint how exactly we can qualify certain books as ‘queer.’ This gets especially tricky with older titles where many of our contemporary markers of queerness are not legible (such as in Virginia Woolf’s work–I’ve had many people claim Orlando is not queer…umm?) or with books about younger people (such as tomboys) who may not identify as LGBTQ yet, or have even had queer experiences (i.e., Harriet the Spy!).  It’s great to see this post critiquing an author who is trying to distance himself and his book from the category ‘gay.’  As I wrote in my comment, he’s accepting the stigma of the label gay and trying to reject the label, instead of questioning the stigma, which is the real problem here.  Just because a book is queer, doesn’t mean a) it’s not a well-written book with literary merit and b) the book doesn’t also equally belong in other categories, such as young adult, or Canadian, or fantasy.
I have many of these same qualms about considering certain authors ‘Canadian’; if they’re residents of Canada but citizens of other countries can I count them as Canadian? Am I discounting writers’ backgrounds/homes in other parts of the world by calling them Canadian? What if they live in other parts of the world but write about Canada? What if they live in Canada but don’t write about the place or people from it? And how exactly do Indigenous authors fit into this equation, since it seems that the category ‘Canadian’ is at best irrelevant and at worst insulting and colonialist?

About CaseytheCanadianLesbrarian

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian who holds an MA in English literature. She lives and works in the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation (Nanaimo, BC). Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, running, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of LGBTQ2IA+ Canadian books, archives of the book advice column Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian, and some other queer, bookish stuff. She also writes for Autostraddle. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian. Some of her old reviews, especially the non-Canadian variety, can be found at the Lesbrary.
This entry was posted in Canadian, Fiction, Gay, Indigenous, Lesbian, News, Queer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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