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March 2024 Additions


For the month of March we’re excited to add not two, but three new books to our shelves. Whether you’re looking for a new perspective or just want something good to read, these books are a great place to start. Try one out to weather the snow- and rainstorms that are keeping you bundled up inside!

 

First up we’re shelving Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique by Sa’ed Atshan. This work of nonfiction by Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies Atshan links struggles for justice and freedom to resisting homophobia. Bringing both activism and scholarly pursuits together, Atshan takes on complex issues and shows how LGBTQ+ interests are linked, as always, with current and historical struggles and times. From the back cover:

 

From Ramallah to New York, Tel Aviv to Porto Alegre, people around the world celebrate a formidable, transnational Palestinian LGBTQ social movement. Yet LGBTQ Palestinians themselves are subjected to an “empire of critique” from Israeli and Palestinian institutions, Western academics, journalists and filmmakers, and even fellow activists, which has led to an emphasis on anti-imperialism over the struggle against homophobia. With this book, Sa’ed Atshan asks how transnational social movements can balance their work for liberation along more than one axis. He explores critical junctures in the history of Palestinian LGBTQ activism, revealing the queer Palestinian spirit of agency, defiance, and creativity, in the face of daunting pressures and forces working to constrict it.

 

Our second addition this month is You Exist Too Much, a work of literary fiction by Zaina Arafat. A complicated story about one woman’s journey to navigate where she fits as a queer Palestinian American, this novel offers a heartfelt exploration of what it is like to feel you are taking up too much space for just being yourself. From the back cover:

 

On a hot day in Bethlehem, a twelve-year-old Palestinian American girl is yelled at by a group of men outside the Church of the Nativity. She has exposed her legs in a biblical city, and their judgement will echo on through her adolescence. When our narrator finally admits to her mother that she is queer, her mother’s response only intensifies a sense of shame: “You exist too much,” she tells her daughter.

 

Told in vignettes that flash between the United States and the Middle East—from New York to Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine—Zaina Arafat’s debut novel traces her protagonist’s progress from blushing teen to sought-after DJ and aspiring writer. In Brooklyn, she moves into an apartment with her first serious girlfriend and tries to content herself with their comfortable relationship. But soon hidden longings explode out into reckless romantic encounters and obsessions. Her desire to thwart these destructive impulses leads her to the Ledge, an unconventional treatment center that identifies her affliction as “love addition.”

 

Opening up the fantasies and desires of one young woman caught between cultural, religious, and sexual identities, You Exist Too Much is a captivating story charting two of our most intense longings—for love and a place to call home.

 

Last but not least we’re shelving This Arab is Queer: An Anthology by LGBTQ+ Arab Writers. This first-of-its-kind collection not only tells a variety of tales from a variety of backgrounds—from all across the LGBTQ+ spectrum, from diaspora voices to those from Arab countries—but seeks to show that the queer Arab experience is beautiful, complicated, and perhaps not what you might expect. From the back cover:

 

This ground-breaking anthology features the compelling and courageous memoirs of eighteen queer Arab writers—some internationally bestselling, others using pseudonyms. Here, we find heart-warming connections and moments of celebration alongside essays exploring the challenges of being LGTBQ+ and Arab.

 

From a military base in the Gulf to loving whispered caught between bedsheets; and from touring overseas as a drag queen to a concert in Cairo where the rainbow flag was raised to a crowd of thousands, this collection celebrates the true colors of a vibrant Arab queer experience.

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