Showing posts with label queer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label queer. Show all posts

Sunday, October 23, 2016

[Review] The Olive Conspiracy - Shira Glassman: Jewish Fantasy and Queerness

In THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY, Chef Yael is blackmailed because she is transgender and Queen Shualmit is not having any of that.

What intrigued me: Jewish fantasy! Who'd say no to that. I love high fantasy in diverse settings so much.

Extremely Diverse 

Even though THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY technically belongs to Glassman's Mangoverse series, you do not have to have read the other books to read this one. There are a lot of established character relationships that you will have no problem understanding if this is your first Mangoverse read. Quite on the contrary actually, I found myself growing very interested in her characters and am even more intrigued to read the rest of the series because THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY hints at all the interesting things happening before.

THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY is so diverse - it's fantastic. There are transgender, sapphic, and POC characters whom you'll all grow to love. The Mangoverse is inhabited by different peoples who all have their unique customs and Glassman cleverly uses this to establish Jewish customs and familiarize the reader with the setting. THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY is a very easy and educational read that absolutely managed to fascinate.

Charming and Educational

THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY reads quite like a cozy mystery in a diverse high fantasy setting. Though I hoped to see the story anchored to a specific character, which ultimately made it a little more difficult for me to follow the plot. Glassman narrates for the most part from an omniscient perspective that sometimes focuses on shape-shifting wizard Isaac, whom I absolutely grew to adore. 

I wish the story would've been told from a different perspective, maybe first-person. Especially for first-time readers of the Mangoverse it does irritate a little and did make it a bit harder for me to truly get invested. THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY does work as a stand-alone and is an absolute must-read if you're looking to diversify yours(h)elf. I found myself learning a lot about Jewish culture that I didn't know before and found it quite charming how effortlessly Glassman incorporates this into the setting. 


Rating:

★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE OLIVE CONSPIRACY is a unique and original delight. Jewish queer fantasy at its best and if you want to learn more about Jewish culture, I absolutely recommend this novel considering that it's written by a Jewish writer.



Additional Info

Published: July 20th 2016
Pages: 229
Genre: Adult / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781944449780

Synopsis:
"When Ezra tries to blackmail Chef Yael about her being trans, she throws him out of her restaurant and immediately reports him to the queen. When police find Ezra stabbed to death, Queen Shulamit realizes he may have also tried to extort someone more dangerous than a feisty old lady.

The royal investigation leads straight to an international terrorist plot to destroy her country’s economy—and worse, her first love, Crown Princess Carolina of Imbrio, may be involved. Since she’s got a dragon-shifting wizard at her disposal, contacts with friendly foreign witches, and the support of her partner Aviva, Shulamit has hope. What she doesn’t have is time.

A love story between women, between queen and country, and between farmers and their crops."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you ever read Jewish fantasy?

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hey Authors, Why Is LGBTQ Representation So Hard? | YA Talk



What is LGBTQ*?

LGBTQ* refers to the lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans/queer/and other community.

It basically includes everyone that doesn't identify with the gender they were assigned at birth and/or isn't heterosexual.







What the problem is

If you haven't really paid attention to the lgbtq community before, you probably didn't even know it existed. 
In the common media, all we get is gay representation in form of mostly homosexual men. I mean, there's a token fashion-savvy gay best friend in every romantic comedy movie set in New York. I didn't even know there were such things as pansexuality, asexuality, or even genderqueerness before I dove into the topic after reading David Levithan's "Boy Meets Boy" at university.

And this is the root of the problem. I'm not saying it's your fault if you had/have no idea what all these terms mean. It's not your fault that you've been brought up in a world were everyone is assumed to be heterosexual and identifying as either male or female. 

There are very few books that deal with gender and sex without exclusively being about gender and sex. Most books including LGBTQ* characters are also about coming out. I'm not saying we don't need these, but I'm saying that we need more books that casually feature LGBTQ* characters. 

Why not make your protagonist a bisexual woman? Why not make them indifferent to sexuality or identifying as indifferent to the concept of gender? It sounds far-fetched, but people like this do exist, and there are a lot of them. You'd be surprised as to how many people (even your friends) probably aren't heterosexual. We just assume that everyone is because we are bombarded with white heterosexual characters in all media all the time.

Take a look at popular culture!

Can you name a single super popular book with a main character that identifies as other than straight, or is simply assumed to be heterosexual without needing to mention it? Probably not, if it's not a book about specifically queer issues.

I don't understand what's so difficult about this. You may argue that most writers tend to write what they know about and maybe might shoo away from writing about LGBTQ* characters when they're heterosexual themselves. (Just the fact that I have to pretend for the sake of this argument that every writer is heterosexual is ridiculous...)

Well, I have news for you:

The job of a writer is to make stuff. They make stuff up, and sometimes even base that stuff on real events. If they do, they have to do some research. You can't tell me that someone is able to research everything about 18th century France to write a historical romance, but can't be bothered to do some research on queer issues to make it a novel about an asexual in 18th century France? Well, if you can't do that, you probably shouldn't be a writer. 

I'm not saying that every writer has to write about queer characters, I'm saying that instead of jamming out the 16th  book about a white straight girl falling in love with a mysterious dark-haired poetry-loving semi villain boy, they should try writing about a white gay boy falling in love with that same mysterious dark-haired poetry-loving semi villain boy. 

LGBTQ* people exist and I think they are worth representation just as much as heterosexuals. 


Here are some queer YA reads to get you started:

(links leading to goodreads)

  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (lesbian)
  • Luna by Julie Anne Peters (transgender)
  • Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (gay)
  • Ash by Malinda Yo (lesbian)
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (intersex)
  • Every Day by David Levithan (pansexual, agender)


What are your thoughts on LGBT* reads?

Any recommendations?


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