Author: Juliet Jacques
Staff Pick! So says…
Variations is pretty various: short stories, yes, but thematically linked by trans lives in Britain, told in chronological order from the mid-1850s to the present; fiction, but drawing on archival research, with each story presented as a different kind of (invented) document, from letters to diaries to film scripts to academic presentations; and a little bit of the variety show, with stories that highlight marginal performance spaces, from the freak show to the punk and performance art undergrounds via arthouse cinema and – yes – an amazing drag bar, as spaces where trans and queer people could increasingly thrive (and sometimes disagree) together.
Leaning towards humour rather than trauma, Jacques’ mordant, sometimes mischievous stories rewrite the twentieth century as an unfolding of gender complexity and trans community, one made by people telling their stories at every scale: intimately to each other; in letters to the press, over megaphones at protests, via blogs, and in creative works. It turns the short story collection into a collective, and it’s a joy to feel part of it as you read.