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  • Writer's pictureJhalak Prize

Elias Jahshan picks some of his favourite books for Pride Month 2022.

Elias Jahshan, the editor of the extraordinary new anthology, This Arab Is Queer (Saqi Books) picks some of his favourite books for Pride Month 2022.

I absolutely adored this book. The prose is a joy to read, and coupled with fab dialogue and wonderful characters (including queer characters), the coming-of-age story of Nnenna Maloney was hard to put down. Most importantly though, themes of generational clashes, class, gender, sexuality, and race and skin colour are explored deftly and with nuance. Okechukwu Nzelu is a promising, talented writer and I can't wait to read his latest book, Here Again Now.

I had known about Rabih Alameddine for so long since his seminal work Koolaids: The Art of War is regarded as a trailblazer of sorts for queer Arab fiction. But it was this novel that introduced me to him and made me a lifelong fan. An allegory of death and loss; sex and religion; war; acceptance and stigma; art and love; politics and AIDS; and the need to remember – The Angel of History is simply as wonderful as it is moving.

This is a powerful, compelling travelogue memoir interspersed with anecdotes and essays that delve into sexuality and body image, religion and culture, childhood and family, and forgiveness and reconciliation. Honest and unflinching, Love Is an Ex-Country highlights the power and love we can derive from fighting for ourselves and living unapologetically - even if it takes a journey of complex, nuanced experiences to reach that stage

This is one of the most beautifully written novels I have ever read. The exploration of family history, the Vietnam, war and the trauma and displacement that comes with it, masculinity and sexuality, immigration and the matriarchy, all against a backdrop of working class America. It all comes together so beautifully. Ocean Vuong's prose is poetic and emotive, and truly, a pleasure to read.

You Exist Too Much follows an unnamed bisexual Palestinian-American woman, as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery while caught between two worlds. Arafat's writing is honest and she doesn't shy away from themes around mental health, sex, family, and the fragmented sense of home that comes with being part of the Palestinian diaspora. The narrator's cultural background and sexuality are also just able to be, without the white gaze interfering.

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