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6 Queer Women Short Story Writers You Have To Read

5th Feb 2014

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It's LGBTQ History Month, so we're celebrating our favourite lesbian, queer and trans women writers. From classic to cult, there's a wealth of books by these brilliant authors, originating from all over the world and spanning the spectrum from emerging to iconic. Here's six to add to your to-read lists...

There are so many amazing queer women short story writers that knowing where to start can be tricky. But from feminist fairytales to stories of teenage lesbian hitch-hikers, avant-garde artists and culinary masturbation, we’re sure these six authors will have something for everyone…

Emma Donoghue

As well as acclaimed novels covering a range of genres (including internationally bestselling 2010 novel Room, which won or was nominated for almost every award going), Irish-born Emma Donoghue is also the author of several spellbinding short collections.

Start with The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits (2002), which features fascinating tales based on sinister and surreal true stories, then read the feminist retellings of fairytales in Kissing the Witch (1997). Perfect for Angela Carter fanatics, and anyone who’s ever wanted to read about Cinderella turning down Prince Charming and running away with her fairy godmother instead.

Michelle Cliff

Famed for her novels, non-fiction writing and her long-term partnership with poet Adrienne Rich, the short stories of Jamaican-American author Michelle Cliff are less well-known than her other work, but no less powerful, important or urgent.

Everything is Now (2009) collects the stories from her previous two collections, The Store of a Million Items and Bodies of Water, alongside fourteen new ones, exploring memory, family, grief, colonialism, revolution and more with lush imagery, beauty and emotion.

Gas, grass, or ass: No one rides for free.

Nancy Jo Cullen

Having previously published three poetry collections, Canary (2013) is the début short story anthology by Canadian author Nancy Jo Cullen. With scenes set in brilliantly comic and original locations, from sleazy pubs to communal yoga studio showers, her characters are “working-class, a little queer, and hysterically funny.”

Vibrant, heartbreaking and eccentric, you’ll be seduced from the killer first line onwards: “Gas, grass, or ass: No one rides for free.”

Dionne Brand

Trinidad-born Dionne Brand is renowned for her role in directing pioneering documentaries exploring race and gender issues, along with award-winning poetry, novels and essays.

But in addition to all that, she also writers short stories that are every bit as incredible and insightful as her other work. Start with What We All Long For (2005), which follows the interconnected experiences of a close-knit circle in downtown Toronto, exploring the realities of city living, loss, longing, desire and identity.

Lisa Foad

Winning the ReLit Award for her début collection The Night is a Mouth (2009), Canadian journalist and short story author Lisa Foad is sure to find fans among those who love their fiction bold, brazen, filthy and fascinating.

Camp, dark and disturbing (with trigger warnings for rape, incest and abuse), it features an intoxicating cast of carnivalesque characters including runaways, monsters and ghosts, and copious amounts of sex and drugs, chronicled with gorgeous language and imagery.

Achy Obejas

Pultizer Prize winning Cuban-American journalist Achy Obejas followed her début short story collection, We Came All the Way From Cuba So You Could Dress Like This? (1994) with three novels and a volume of poetry, but it’s still the perfect place to start.

Featuring tales of alienation and exile, lesbian activists, Latino immigrants, addicts, and those living with AIDS, it’s by turns funny, furious, sad, sentimental and often autobiographical, making it an ideal introduction to a fascinating and original author.

Still want more? Check out the prizewinners, longlists and shortlists of the Lamda Literary and Stonewall Book Awards for ideas to fill your bookshelves with amazing queer women short story writers, novelists, poets, essayists and more. Which other queer women short story writers would you add to our list?

(Image via Carbon NYC)