Day 16: Small Beauty

Across the first month of 2020, Sophie Baggott is sharing her thirty favourite books by women from across the world. Find out more about her project to read women writers from every country worldwide here.

I came across Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang – my choice for Canada – by accident just as I finished the book I chose for Thailand, both of which were published by a small publishing house in Australia: Brow Books. Reading about Small Beauty in the backpages of Bright, I was intrigued and ordered the book from my local library. I’m glad I did…

A stunningly understated cover for a stunningly understated book
The book’s cover image is just as beautifully understated

In a nutshell: This is a stunningly understated contemplation on grief, queerness & race, which quietly bruises as it nudges along its way.

To pluck out a line: “These interactions feel like a mix of coffee and booze, the warmth of recognition and the anxiety of direct attention. She is unsettled by the host of uncertainties that comes with being recognised as a trans woman by a room full of strangers.”

If I had to choose one image: Every page of wilson-yang’s writing holds some element of beauty; at one point, she pauses on the peaceful black sky in rural Canada – not the ‘unfinished’ night of the city, but stars spread throughout with ‘the appearance of longing’.

Sharing a thought: For Mei, the main protagonist, all encounters are fraught with complication – one painful instance is how, after she’s assaulted, a passerby’s expression twists from pity to disgust as she looks more closely.

Fact: This book won the 2017 Lambda Literary Award for Best Transgender Fiction.

If you’d like to read Small Beauty, please visit here.

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