Spotlight On: Aunt Lute Books
By Priyanka Joshi and Isobel Jones
Since 1982, Aunt Lute Press have taken great pride (pun intended!) in publishing books penned ‘in the margins’ by queer women, women of colour and others who have been historically underrepresented – or excluded altogether – from the mainstream (read: white/cishet) narrative. As a self-proclaimed “grassroots press,” community spirit is at the heart of Aunt Lute’s literary ethos. Indeed, a conviction that the written word can engender greater understanding between people who experience the world from distinct ideologies, lifestyles, orientations, and cultures is the driving force behind the press’ trailblazing work as a champion of intersectional feminism within the publishing community and beyond. Aunt Lute’s prize-winning titles are read far and wide, having been included in the curricula of educational institutions around the world – as such, their legacy is one of radical enlightenment, inclusivity and compassion.
Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (Fifth Edition) by Gloria Anzaldúa
Initially published in 1987, Borderlands is a semi-autobiographical work that explores the precariousness and ambiguity surrounding the borderland people living in a space that is both physically and metaphorically located between two cultures. Representing the multiple identities she holds as well as her unique heritage, Anzaldúa has utilised a hybrid style of writing by including prose, poetry and essays with a careful combination of Spanish and English throughout her work. Examining the Chicano and Latino culture through the lens of gender, identity, race and colonialism, this three-part book acknowledges the trauma and conflict of identity while presenting a new perspective. As stated in the title, The New Mestiza stands for the possibility of transformation and a new consciousness that empowers women in the Chicana culture. Borderlands was named one of the best books in 1987, and this new edition provides readers with a more condensed version, featuring only the text from the original edition.
El Mundo Zurdo 8, Edited by Norma E. Cantú, Adrianna M. Santos and Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz
El Mundo Zurdo 8 is an anthology of powerful and thought-provoking essays, poetry and visual art that celebrates the life and work of a revolutionary Chicana feminist, Gloria Anzaldúa. The collection was published in 2022 and features contributions from a wide range of scholars, activists, artists and writers who explore a variety of topics related to Anzaldúa's work, including her theories of mestiza consciousness, border studies and spiritual activism. These works were selected from the 2019 conference hosted by the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa to examine her impact on the lives of people of colour, LGBTQIA+ people and women. The visual art in the collection also reflects Anzaldúa's vision of the world, which speaks to the experiences of underrepresented people in the Chicana/Latina culture.
Making Face, Making Soul edited by Gloria Anzaldúa
Making Face, Making Soul is a revolutionary anthology of creative writing, theoretical essays and personal reflections on intersectional feminism and identity from a wide-ranging cohort of academics, poets and activists of colour. Thoughtfully collated and edited by the queer Chicana writer Gloria Anzaldúa, the collection features writing from Audre Lorde, bell hooks, María Lugones, and Sandra Cisneros – to name but a few – who each tackle questions of (de)colonisation, sexuality and the versions of ourselves we outwardly present to the world. In typical Anzaldúan style, the curated pieces are united in their desire to unpick the negotiations of ‘identity’ with which (queer) women of colour are often faced in our increasingly multicultural yet polarised social climate.
¡Cuéntamelo! Oral Histories by LGBT Latino Immigrants by Julián Delgado Lopera
¡Cuéntamelo! started life in 2013 as a cover story for SF Weekly when Colombian-born author and performer Julián Delgado Lopera came up with the idea of transcribing and illustrating the experiences of fellow members of the queer, Latinx, immigrant community living in the U.S. Translated from the Spanish as “Tell me about it!,” this bilingual oral history collection carves out space for authentic accounts of what it means to navigate sexuality and belonging, giving voice to individuals like Adela Vasquez, for example, a Cuban American activist and performer in San Francisco’s trans-Latina community, who stood for solidarity and pride at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Named as Lambda’s 2018 winner of Best LGBTQIA+ Anthology, ¡Cuéntamelo! intricately weaves the threads of San Francisco’s underground queer, Latinx culture into the city’s already rich LGBTQIA+ history.
Alice Walker Banned by Alice Walker
Described as a “fascinating, frightening book,” Alice Walker Banned is an exploration of censorship and art in which Pulitzer prize-winner Alice Walker examines her own literary production and the controversies it has sparked. Famed for her 1983 novel, The Colour Purple, which tackles race and gender inequality, Alice Walker has become one of the most contentious writers in the U.S. and is frequently targeted by censors looking to remove her works from American Education Boards. As the U.S. government moves to implement ever-stricter censorial legislation, Alice Walker Banned is just as pressing and timely a read as ever and provides an insightful commentary on both sides of the debate.