By Hollie Juniper, March 2023
For this year’s international women’s day, we were kindly invited by BN1 Magazine to write some profiles for some of our favourite women and minority gender authors. We thought we’d share a little snippet with you all this IWD, with our segments on the incredible Bernardine Evaristo, Juno Dawson, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Michelle Tea. Head over to BN1 now to find out which other authors we included in our list and why!
Now a household name in the literary world, since becoming the first Black woman to win the Booker Prize in 2019 with her fantastic novel Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo is an expert in her craft, exploring the African and Caribbean diaspora with such nuance and charisma, you can’t help but fall in love with her characters and work. Staff favorites include Mr Loverman, whose closeted protagonist is so well fleshed out that, despite his flaws, you can’t help but fall for his wit and charm; and Blonde Roots, a satirical novel which reverses the roles of the transatlantic slave trade, entertaining, gorgeously written and thought provoking in equal measures. Aside from her fiction writing, Evaristo is also a poet, an essayist, an academic, and an advocate for diversity in literature. A must-read author for all.
We love Juno Dawson here at The Feminist Bookshop. We were first introduced to her through her incredible young adult fiction, such as the simultaneously glamorous and gritty Clean, and festive favourite Stay Another Day. We were immediately drawn to her non-fiction works exploring queerness and gender, including the incredible What’s the T?, a comforting guide to all things trans for teenagers and young people. Juno’s bibliography is impressively broad, and she manages to excel at every genre she dips her toes into. We couldn’t get enough of her recent debut adult novel, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, the first book of a trilogy following a coven of witches which is queer, trans inclusive, and ultimately a breath of fresh air. The release of the second installment, The Shadow Cabinet, is still a few months away, so until then we’ll be waiting on the edge of our seats!
Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Leah is our go-to for books prioritising disabled voices and concerns. Their work, primarily non-fiction, focuses on the experiences of queer and trans people of colour, the intersections between colonialism and violence, and disability rights. Some staff favourites include 2018’s Care Work, a series of essays exploring the politics and realities of disability justice, whilst also putting forward the tools needed to imaging a more accessible, compassionate future; and 2023’s The Future Is Disabled, a provocative look into the status of disability rights in the wake of Covid-19, Trump and the rise of fascism. A poet, a performance artist, an activist, and a healer, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s work manages to simultaneously critique and tackle the harsh, and often deadly, realities of queer disabled folks of colour, whilst also offering hope and tools for a better future for all.
We’re all huge fans of Michelle Tea here at the shop. We had the pleasure of hosting a book launch event for last year’s release of Knocking Myself Up, a memoir about her journey towards motherhood as a 40-year old, uninsured queer woman, and absolutely loved her wit, honesty and spirit. Tea’s work has a clear, signature style; punky, chaotic, and witty, blurring the lines between memoir and fiction, which has solidified her status as a modern literary icon. Black Wave is a perfect example of Tea’s gritty brand of autofiction, following a fictionalised Michelle through her sexual conquests, drug abuse, the hedonistic queer subcultures of 1990s San Francisco and LA, and, ultimately, the end of the world. Michelle has also released a guide to tarot, Modern Tarot, and hosts a podcast called Your Magic, which invites celebrity guests and listeners along for spiritual discussions, tarot readings, and more.