As someone looking to read about queer women, it’s easy to assume there is a lack of sapphic books on the market. Even worse, you may be convinced the books that are out there are poorly written, depressing or a horrible, soul-crushing combination of the two. Don’t allow yourself to be swept up in this discourse and miss out on the incredible – often own voice – wlw literature out there because of misconceptions about sapphic literature as a whole. Here are three recommendations of brilliantly written books by queer women about queer women.
The Color Purple
Fair warning- this book covers extremely disturbing content, particularly in terms of sexual violence and racism. Alice Walker’s award-winning epistolary novel immerses us in the life of Celie, an African American teenager living in rural Georgia in the early 1900s who is surrounded by men who abuse her. We watch her world shift as she finds women who refuse to submit to this abuse and fight for their happiness. One of these women is Shug, whose love for Celie is central to the development of Celie’s own self-worth as she becomes a queer Black woman in a world which seeks only to erase her.
Disobedience focusses jointly on Jewish doctrine and the lives of the two women navigating life in a close-knit Orthodox Jewish community after the death of their Rabbi. The two women have very differing relationships with the doctrine and how it impacts on expression or concealment of their sexualities. Ronit is disobedience personified, itching to provoke, while Esti chooses a path of compromise and continued sacrifice. Both are valid and insightful approaches to life that Naomi Alderman navigates with sensitivity.
If you are looking for a mind-blowing book, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters certainly fits the bill. It’s Dickensian in style and is full of plot twists without coming across as contrived. This dark and twisting narrative about orphans and thieves, gentlewomen and deception, is underlined by the budding romance between Sue and Maud which, despite the richly imagined chaos around them, seems unshakeable.