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Award-winning literature

For your summer's reading pleasure

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It’s summer and here are some of the finalists for the 30th Annual Lambda Literary Awards and/or best titles that came from April’s Triangle Awards ceremony.  Remember, the Dauphin County Library System is a great place to start your journey for great reading.

Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray

by Rosalind Rosenberg

Throughout her prodigious life, activist and lawyer Pauli Murray systematically fought against all arbitrary distinctions in society, channeling her outrage at the discrimination she faced to make America a more democratic country. In this definitive biography, Rosalind Rosenberg offers a poignant portrait of a figure who played pivotal roles in both the modern civil rights and women’s movements. . . Murray forged a singular career in the law. In the 1950s, her legal scholarship helped Thurgood Marshall challenge segregation head-on in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. When appointed by Eleanor Roosevelt to the President’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1962, she advanced the idea of Jane Crow, arguing that the same reasons used to condemn race discrimination could be used to battle gender discrimination. . . While she would today be identified as transgender, during her lifetime no social movement existed to support this identity. She ultimately used her private feelings of being “in-between” to publicly contend that identities are not fixed, an idea that has powered campaigns for equal rights in the United States for the past half-century.

Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems

by Danez Smith

“Smith’s unflinching poetry addresses race, class, sexuality, faith, social justice, mortality, and the challenges of living HIV positive at the intersection of black and queer identity. The collection opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved on earth. Smith’s courage and hope amidst the struggle for unity in America will humble and uplift you.

The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir

by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Before Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich begins a summer job at a law firm in Louisiana, working to help defend men accused of murder, she thinks her position is clear. The child of two lawyers, she is staunchly anti-death penalty. But the moment convicted murderer Ricky Langley›s face flashes on the screen as she reviews old tapes -- the moment she hears him speak of his crimes -- she is overcome with the feeling of wanting him to die. Shocked by her reaction, she digs deeper and deeper into the case.  As Alexandria pores over the facts of the murder, she finds herself thrust into the complicated narrative of Ricky›s childhood, and by examining his case, is forced to face her own story, unearth long-buried family secrets, and reckon with a past that colors her view of Ricky›s crime.

To My Trans Sisters

edited by Charlie Craggs

A touching and inspiring anthology of letters edited by Craggs (founder of Nail Transphobia), this offering collects missives of advice for transgender women. Brief biographies precede each letter, allowing readers to get a sense of the background of the writer. Letters come in different formats: traditional letters, letters to the writer’s self, poetry, single sentences, and more. Craggs gathers an astonishingly diverse cadre of contributors, who offer both practical and emotional advice. A full range of emotions are represented in the raw, allowing for celebration, anger, and beyond.

Difficult Women   by Roxane Gay

Difficult Women is a collection of stories of rare force and beauty, of hardscrabble lives, passionate loves, and quirky and vexed human connection. The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the elder sister›s marriage. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies

by John Boyne

Adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple who remind him that he is not a real member of their family, Cyril embarks on a journey to find himself and where he came from, discovering his identity, a home, a country, and much more throughout a long lifetime.