Monday, May 18, 2020

Eight novels about being haunted by the past

John Elizabeth Stintzi is the recipient of the 2019 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, and their work has appeared in the Malahat Review, Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares. They are the author of the novel Vanishing Monuments as well as the poetry collection Junebat.

At Electric Lit Stintzi tagged eight books about characters trying to escape their history, including:
Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction in 2019, Jonny Appleseed is an almost picaresque novel that slowly tells the story of Jonny—a Two-Spirit Indigiqueer sex worker currently living in Winnipeg. The plot of the novel is built around Jonny trying to find a way to get back to the rez, which is a few hours north of the city, to attend the funeral of his stepfather. As he tries to catch a ride, we are bombarded with stories of Jonny’s life, stories about his sexwork, about his kokum, about his growing up the only Two-Spirit kid on the rez. For as much pain and trauma there is in this book, particularly in Jonny’s complicatedly intimate relationship with his childhood friend Tias, there’s also so much love and beauty. Laugh and cry, Jonny’s perseverance is as infectious as the liveliness (and sexiness!) of his voice.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue