La Vérité sort de la bouche du cheval

Read La vérité sort de la bouche du cheval by Meryem Alaoui

Jmiaa, prostituée de Casablanca, vit seule avec sa fille. Femme au fort caractère et à l’esprit vif, elle n’a pas la langue dans sa poche pour décrire le monde qui l’entoure : son amoureux Chaïba, brute épaisse et sans parole, ou Halima, sa comparse dépressive qui lit le Coran entre deux clients, ou encore Mouy, sa mère à la moralité implacable qui semble tout ignorer de l’activité de sa fille. Mais voici qu’arrive une jeune femme, Chadlia, dite « Bouche de cheval », qui veut réaliser son premier film sur la vie de ce quartier de Casa. Elle cherche une actrice…

Dans La Vérité sort de la bouche du cheval, on suit une prostituée marocaine et ses aventures infernales. Elle nous parle, sans patience ni douceur, de ses amies, de sa fille, de ses clients et de son maquereau. Elle est drôle et franche et d’une violence sans fard, et ce qui nous plaît dans la rédaction…

a calculated risk

Read A Calculated Risk by Cari Hunter

Detective Jo Shaw has it all worked out. She’s good at her job, she has loads of mates, and she likes being single. She doesn’t need complications, but an emergency call to the stabbing of a young woman brings plenty of those. Jo has to risk her career to save the woman’s life, and a bad night gets worse when the trauma surgeon turns out to be Isla Munro, Jo’s only real love, who walked out on her fifteen years ago and never came back.

With the victim’s children missing and the husband the prime suspect, Jo’s investigation is stonewalled by a community living in fear. As one dead end leads to another, she and Isla are forced to put their differences aside and work together. But the case is far more dangerous than Jo realizes, and her determination to sort the truth from the lies may put her own life on the line.

Big twist and likeable characters (after a disastrous start from our cop protagonist) in this queer crime novel. It doesn’t reinvent the genre: it does everything we want it to do, but it does it well, with some romance on the side. well done.

western lane

Read Western Lane by Chetna Maroo

Eleven-year-old Gopi has been playing squash since she was old enough to hold a racket. When her mother dies, her father enlists her in a quietly brutal training regimen, and the game becomes her world. Slowly, she grows apart from her sisters. Her life is reduced to the sport, guided by its rhythms: the serve, the volley, the drive, the shot and its echo.

But on the court, she is not alone. She is with her pa. She is with Ged, a thirteen-year-old boy with his own formidable talent. She is with the players who have come before her. She is in awe.

Western Lane is a short novel that uses the pretext of competitive sports to touch upon matters of grief and identity. It was a beautiful and haunting read, following a child poised to become a squash champion after the death of her mother; her father, obsessed with squash, and herself go all-in on the sport…

le rêve du pêcheur

Read Le rêve du pêcheur by Hemley Boum

Zack a fui le Cameroun à dix-huit ans, abandonnant sa mère, Dorothée, à son sort et à ses secrets. Devenu psychologue clinicien à Paris, marié et père de famille, il est rattrapé par le passé alors que la vie qu’il s’est construite prend l’eau de toutes parts… À quelques décennies de là, son grand-père Zacharias, pêcheur dans un petit village côtier, voit son mode de vie traditionnel bouleversé par une importante compagnie forestière. Il rêve d’un autre avenir pour les siens…

Zachary a abandonné son Cameroun natal et toute sa famille pour venir étudier la psychologie à Nanterre, en région parisienne. Il s’intègre bien. Il a une copine métisse d’origine martiniquaise, mais ça se passe mal : il n’est pas assez conscient du racisme systémique aux yeux de sa copine, elle est trop énervée et radicale…

never let me go

Read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go is a classic of the dystopia genre. It’s quiet, soft, heart-wrenching. There’s not a lot going on in there, to the point that the novel, no matter how horrible its premise, feels quite cozy at times. Knowing the main twist may have made it less memorable for me, or maybe it’s…

The Rachel Incident

Read The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue

Rachel is a student working at a bookstore when she meets James, and it’s love at first sight. Effervescent and insistently heterosexual, James soon invites Rachel to be his roommate and the two begin a friendship that changes the course of both their lives forever. Together, they run riot through the streets of Cork city, trying to maintain a bohemian existence while the threat of the financial crash looms before them.

When Rachel falls in love with her married professor, Dr. Fred Byrne, James helps her devise a reading at their local bookstore, with the goal that she might seduce him afterwards. But Fred has other desires. So begins a series of secrets and compromises that intertwine the fates of James, Rachel, Fred, and Fred’s glamorous, well-connected, bourgeois wife. Aching with unrequited love, shot through with delicious, sparkling humor, The Rachel Incident is a triumph.

Everyone seems to agree that The Rachel Incident is a funny novel. I don’t get it. I couldn’t stop reading The Rachel Incident. It was gripping and relatable and I felt the confusion and despair and hope of our young trio – because, as much as the narrator wants to tell us otherwise, Carey is…

where the dead sleep

Read Where the Dead Sleep by Joshua Moehling

When an early morning call brings Deputy Ben Packard to the scene of a home invasion, he finds Bill Sandersen shot in his bed. Bill was a well-liked local who chased easy money his whole life, leaving bad debts and broken hearts in his wake. Everyone Packard talks to has a story about Bill, but no one has a clear motive for wanting him dead. The business partner. The ex-wife. The current wife. The high-stakes poker buddies. Any of them–or none of them–could be guilty.
As the investigation begins, tragedy strikes the Sheriff’s department, forcing Packard to make a difficult choice about his future: step down as acting Sheriff and pursue the quiet life he came to Sandy Lake in search of, or subject himself to the scrutiny of an election for the full-time role of Sheriff, a job he’s not sure he wants.

I got Where the dead sleep because it was part of the Lambda Literary shortlist, without realizing that it’s book 2 of a series of which I read the first book. I realized that when I saw my own review of Book 1 on The Storygraph from a while ago (when I still said ACAB):…

wild geese

Read Wild Geese by Soula Emmanuel

Wild Geese tells the story of Phoebe Forde, an Irish trans woman living in Scandinavia with her anxious dog, Dolly. Overeducated and underpaid, Phoebe is finally settling into her new life when she unexpectedly reconnects with her first and only girlfriend from before her transition, igniting memories she thought she’d left behind.

Wild Geese is a novel about my ex a trans woman who accidentally rekindles an old flame with the ex she had pre-transition. Together, they walk through Copenhagen, the city where Phoebe, the protagonist, moved from Dublin. Her ex visits for the first time. They spend the weekend together, dissecting their old life and their…

biography of x

Read Biography of X by Catherine Lacey

From one of our fiercest stylists, a roaring epic chronicling the life, times, and secrets of a notorious artist.

When X—an iconoclastic artist, writer, and polarizing shape-shifter—falls dead in her office, her widow, wild with grief and refusing everyone’s good advice, hurls herself into writing a biography of the woman she deified. Though X was recognized as a crucial creative force of her era, she kept a tight grip on her life story. Not even CM, her wife, knew where X had been born, and in her quest to find out, she opens a Pandora’s box of secrets, betrayals, and destruction. All the while, she immerses herself in the history of the Southern Territory, a fascist theocracy that split from the rest of the country after World War II, as it is finally, in the present day, forced into an uneasy reunification.

Who knew reading the biography of a dull and supremely unlikeable person, who doesn’t even exist, would be so gripping. I was definitely more taken with the world-building than I was with the characters. I don’t mind a boring narrator, I even think this one was pretty cool in how she was boring – it’s…

Big Swiss

Read Big Swiss by Jen Beagin

Greta lives with her friend Sabine in an ancient Dutch farmhouse in Hudson, New York. The house, built in 1737, is unrenovated, uninsulated, and full of bees. Greta spends her days transcribing therapy sessions for a sex coach who calls himself Om. She becomes infatuated with his newest client, a repressed married woman she affectionately refers to as Big Swiss, since she’s tall, stoic, and originally from Switzerland. Greta is fascinated by Big Swiss’s refreshing attitude toward trauma. They both have dark histories, but Big Swiss chooses to remain unattached to her suffering while Greta continues to be tortured by her past.

One day, Greta recognizes Big Swiss’s voice at the dog park. In a panic, she introduces herself with a fake name and they quickly become enmeshed. Although Big Swiss is unaware of Greta’s true identity, Greta has never been more herself with anyone. Her attraction to Big Swiss overrides her guilt, and she’ll do anything to sustain the relationship…

Big Swiss is the unlikeable story of an unlikeable woman who commits identity fraud to sleep with another unlikeable woman, and then other bad things happen. It’s good, but in a repulsive way. I found myself muttering « urgh » to myself every few pages, and yet going to the next page to know what was going…