2013: The Year in Lesbian/Bi Books

Getting Graphic

Nicole Georges graphic memoir Calling Dr. Laura actually encompassed way more than just her bouts of calling radio talk-show host Laura Schlessinger, whom she calls to talk about her mysterious dad, who she had always believed to be dead until her early 20s. But the book is also about growing up in general, falling in and out of love, and living lesbian life in Portland, Oregon.

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And of course, while Julie Maroh‘s Le bleu est une couleur chaude was published in France a few years ago, an English translation of Blue is the Warmest Color was published by Arsenal Pulp this year. And while issues surrounding the movie have been full of dramatics, the graphic novel is a moving coming of age tale of Clementine and the woman who changes her life, the magnetic, blue haired Emma.

It also seems like we can’t go a year these days without some female-driven outrage in the world of comics: Last year, it was Gail Simone getting the boot from DC and Batgirl, after which she was soon reinstated. This year, it was the creative team behind Batwoman calling it quits after DC supposedly refused to allow Maggie and Kate Kane to get married. DC announced that gay writer Marc Andreyko would take the reigns, which felt promising, but as Heather Hogan reviewed the first issue with the new team, disappointment is actually what reigned instead.

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New Voices

The breakout voice of the year was undoubtedly Imogen Binnie with her debut novel Nevada, published by Topside Press. This dark comedy follows the journey of punk transwoman Maria Griffith, living in New York City and dealing with the aftermath of discovering lies told by her girlfriend.

Lebsians Written by Non-Lesbian Folk

While gay men have frequently been protagonists or major characters in “mainstream” literature over the last few years, for whatever reason, lesbians have often been much less visible in works by non-queer authors. That began to change this year, most notably with We Are Water, the newest novel by big time author Wally Lamb, of She’s Come Undone fame. The event the plot revolves around is a lesbian marriage in Connecticut between Vivian Oh, who has split with her husband after 27 years of marriage and three children, and Viveca, the art dealer Vivian has fallen in love with. We Are Water is told from the points of view of varying family members who are connected with the couple, and traverses issues of family, class, and love.

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Another aquatically named big title this year was Bodies of Water by T. Greenwood, chronicling the life of a young housewife in the 1960s, Billie Valentine, whose drab existence is soon invigorated by the new family who moves in across the street–specifically by the mother, Eva. An affair follows that brings Billie true happiness for the first time in her life, but that also has long term impacts on both families.

A completely different type of novel, Bombshell by James Reich was a feminist, political thriller about a world in nuclear meltdown. The protagonist is a Russian woman obsessed with Valerie Solanas, the radical feminist who died in the ‘80s and was famous for her attempted assassination of Andy Warhol. She follows Solanas’ legacy across the US, carrying out acts against nuclear power plants while being pursued by CIA.

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