Displaying items by tag: gender identity

Wednesday, 04 October 2017 11:48

October 2017 - Diva review of The Night Brother!

Huge thanks to Kaite Welsh, Books Editor at Diva Magazine for this superb review of The Night Brother!
Here’s the full text of the review…

Diva review October 2017

"A must for anyone missing Sarah Waters’ foray into the Victorian era, siblings Edie and Gnome explore the delights of 19th century Manchester in Rosie Garland’s third novel - he during the night, her during the day. The prose is lush and vivid as gender fluidity mingles with magical realism. Edie grows increasingly jealous of her brother’s freedom and exhausted by her double life and the restrictions society places upon her. In The Night Brother, Garland crafts a study in dualism that would make Henry Jekyll jealous, and establishes herself as one of Britain’s best new historical novelists."

Kaite Welsh

http://www.divamag.co.uk/

Published in News

Thank you to Diane Watt of the University of Surrey, for her interview about 'Vixen' - featured in the Women's Literary Culture blog.

You can read the blog here – or click on the link below.

Telling the truth and telling it slant: writing Vixen

Rosie Garland won the Mslexia Novel competition in 2012 and her debut novel The Palace of Curiosities was published in March 2013 by HarperCollins. Her second novel, Vixen, published in 2014, is set in the plague year of 1349. In this post, Rosie writes about writing a novel set in the medieval past.

******

I am fascinated by times when the world is on the cusp of massive change, specifically that moment before those changes take place. I view it rather like an indrawn breath, held and not released. Vixen is set during one such period of upheaval: 1349, the year the Black Death struck England. I wanted to capture that sense of a deadly force and its inexorable advance. In an isolated village deep in a forest in the south west of England, the arrival of a mysterious young woman – the Vixen – turns the lives of the villagers upside down. Amongst other things, the novel is about love found in unexpected places; the impossibility of escape if you won't accept you are in a prison; how people refuse to see what's right in front of them and the consequences of that refusal.

These are themes with personal resonance.

A very early memory is of my grandmother reading fairy stories. Magical elsewheres and elsewhens that transported me far away from childhood rural England. Which was, and is, a delightful place to be unless you are in any way different. This wasn't restricted to sexuality – anything that wasn't marriage and 2.4 children (preferably with one on its way by the age of 16) was regarded as deeply suspect. Suckled on the boundless possibilities of fairy tales, I grew up with a passion for medieval history, possibly because it too was elsewhere, other, and I yearned to get away. As a child, the Middle Ages was 'The Black Shield of Falworth'on Sunday afternoon TV. In glorious Technicolor Cinemascope, it boasted bleached-blonde damsels in crimson lipstick, knights in neatly-ironed satin tabards and an awful lot of thwarting and jousting and choreographed sword fights. This was a Middle Ages where Tony Curtis proclaimed 'yonda stands da cassel of my fadda' in his salty New York accent (sadly apocryphal).

I learned this wasn't the full story. Nurtured by inspiring teachers who introduced me to Chaucer, I found a perfect home at the University of Leeds with its specialism in Old and Medieval English. I fell in love with the cadence of Anglo-Saxon poetry, a dance of language that feels fresh despite being 1000 years old. Ever seeking the story, my undergraduate dissertation explored the parallels between Saints' Lives and fairy tales (dear old Vladimir Propp & structural analysis). My MA was in Medieval Studies – not Creative Writing. My dissertation rejoiced in the title 'The Apocryphal Elements in the Benedictional of St Aethelwold', and combined art, politics, social history, faith and linguistics. I'm sure it sounds frightfully old hat, but in the early 1980s postgraduate study that drew together separate subjects was unusual. To my mind, the MS wasn't produced in a vacuum, so it seemed nonsensical to study it in one. (As a sidebar, I was offered a doctoral scholarship to study the Lives of the Virgin Martyrs, but life has its odd bifurcations and I chose the path of singing in Goth band The March Violets).

However much I like to keep up with current research, I'm clear that my novels are not academic publications. Nor should they be. The two have different purposes, goals and styles. History on its own is not a story, let alone one that compels the reader to turn the page. One of the first questions I'm asked at book signings is how I do my research, as if that's all that's needed. My attitude is that it's vital, but like high-fat food, best taken in moderation. Of course, I need to research the period assiduously. However, it's essential to know when to stop. I am driven to distraction by novels in which the narrative comes to a juddering halt whilst the author goes off on a tangent about Babylonian cylinder seals (a prime example is Dan Brown. If you think I'm joking, check out).

The way I see it, the art of good research is when the reader barely notices its presence, only that everything feels right. Personally, I don't care if an arrow is fletched with swan feather, eagle feather or magpie feather. I want to know who is shooting it, who dies, and why I should give a monkeys. A great example of a novel in which the history – pungent, gritty, humorous and ghastly – serves the story and characters rather than the other way round is Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. It had a profound influence on how I approach the writing of my own novels.

Dammit, Jim, I'm a storyteller, not a historian.

I don't write the past because I regard it as quaint, safe and charming. When I encounter fictionalisations that portray people from 'back then' as different and one-dimensional (tropes of the simple peasant, saintly maiden, evil sheriff, chivalric knight etc), I switch off. I am at odds with the saw 'the past is another country; they do things differently there' (LP Hartley, The Go-Between, 1953). My personal conviction is that we haven't changed much; that we share the same motivations. Love tastes like love and hatred like hatred, whatever era.

I don't see myself as a historical writer, specifically. Not that I've a problem with the label – I've been called worse. But it's where my characters and their narratives take me and in it I find a freedom to plunge into fictional voices. I link this to Emily Dickinson's 'Tell all the truth but tell it slant' and Michael Ondaatje's assertion that one can be 'more honest when inventing, more truthful when dreaming' (Interview with Eleanor Wachtel, June 1994, Essays on Canadian Writing; Issue 53). The very phrase 'historical fiction' is something of an oxymoron; a dislocation of truth (history) and lies (fiction). I relish the dance of that tension.

Taking a step back in time can make it easier to see the trees, so to speak. Historical settings provide a sense of distance, which can be particularly handy when tackling difficult subjects. These are what motivate me. In addition to Plague deaths, Vixen also touches on domestic violence, misogyny, hatred of the outsider, child abuse, the urgency of brief lives and how fear can make monsters of good men. I've found that historical settings can act as a buffer between the reader and the grimness, as well as providing windows through which narrative light can shine. Light is as vital as darkness.

I have a penchant for sneaking things in beneath the radar. One of Vixen's themes is how two women find each other. Anne is a young villager whose expectations run to husband, children and no further. Through her relationship with the Vixen she discovers love can transcend gender. However, they do not refer to themselves as gay, let alone queer (if there's one thing I find more irritating than cod-medieval romps full of corsets and yea forsooths, it's modern people in wimples).

In 14th century Europe, women's sexuality was of such little importance there was no word for lesbian. The idea that women might have sex with other women was largely incomprehensible, for the simple reason that sex was dependent upon the presence of a penis. The fulminations of the church were almost entirely directed at men who practised sodomy ( (but see Judith C. Brown, Immodest Acts, OUP 1986; and The Lesbian Premodern, edited by Noreen Giffney, Michelle Sauer and Diane Watt, Palgrave, 2011). Whatever else fenced them in, Anne and the Vixen are not hemmed in by vocabulary.

One of the many pleasures of historical fiction is the opportunity to give a voice to those who don't make it into the history books. A motif running through all my writing is that of the outsider; someone who won't (or can't) squeeze into the one-size-fits-all templates on offer and the friction that occurs when they try. It explains my choice of first person present tense for Anne and the Vixen. I wanted them to speak for themselves, rather than endure the ventriloquising that comes with third-person.

At heart, I'm interested in creating characters who are greedy, curious, yearning, silly, striving, hopeful, cantankerous, nurturing, disobedient, sneaky and self-serving. Characters with unrequited sexual desires because of guilt, self-denial, or fear of social condemnation. In short, characters who live and breathe and change; and as they change their desires change and develop too.
Rosie Garland

Posted on June 6, 2016

Click for Women's Literary Culture Blog

Published in News

Many thanks to Lin Pettersson, doctoral researcher at the University of Malaga, Spain, for her great article about The Palace of Curiosities, published in Neo-Victorian Studies.

Neo-Victorian Studies
8:2 (2016)
pp. 200-223

"Definitely an Author to Watch": Rosie Garland on the (Neo-) Victorian Freak
Lin Pettersson
(University of Malaga, Spain)
Abstract:
This interview with Rosie Garland, conducted by Dr Lin Pettersson, gives insight into the author's writing and her concern for issues regarding gender, normalcy and identity through a discussion of her acclaimed debut novel The Palace of Curiosities
(2013)
.
Garland speaks about the difficulties of being a woman writer and going from struggling to getting published, winning the Mslexia novel competition, and subsequently signing a two-book contract. She is a writer, singer and performer –
labels that blend together in the prose of The Palace of Curiosities as the author combines the performativity of the neo-Victorian literary mode with the visual dynamics of Victorian popular entertainment in an exploration of gender issues, identity and deviance through the trope of the nineteenth-century freak show.

Keywords: deviance, freak, freak show, Rosie Garland, gender, identity, normalcy,
performance, The Palace of Curiosities, visibility

you can read the whole article here:

http://www.neovictorianstudies.com/

Neo-Victorian Studies is hosted by Swansea University, Wales, UK

Published in News
Fluid Love

Rosie Garland & Jess Richards
Sun 27 Aug 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Writers' Retreat,
Charlotte Square Gardens,
Edinburgh, EH2 4HQ
£8.00, £6.00

Set in 19th-century Manchester, writer and performance poet Rosie Garland's The Night Brother takes the reader to the outer limits of gender fluidity as it explores the complex nature of identity through siblings Edie and Gnome. Acclaimed author Jess Richards's City of Circles is the magical tale of a love affair between two circus performers, Danu and Morrie. Contemporary fiction at its finest.

The Festival's home, the beautiful, leafy Charlotte Square Gardens (at the west end of George Street, a minute's walk away from Princes Street), is a wonderful space in which to sit, talk, think, play and be entertained. Our tented village is expanding out to George Street this year with two new venues and seating areas so there are even more opportunities to relax and be entertained. You can see a favourite author, join in a workshop or debate, enjoy a cuppa in the café, a beer, or simply park yourself on the grass (with or without a book) and soak up the atmosphere.

https://www.edbookfest.co.uk/the-festival/whats-on/rosie-garland-jess-richards-10252

Published in Gig List
Monday, 20 March 2017 11:01

The Night Brother

The Night Brother

From the author of The Palace of Curiosities and Vixen comes a dazzling and provocative new novel of adventure, mystery and belonging. The Night Brother shifts tantalisingly between day and night, exploring questions of identity, sexual equality and how well we know ourselves. Perfect for fans of Angela Carter, Sarah Waters, Erin Morgenstern.
Praise from Stella Duffy - "A tumble of poetry, desire and passion... intriguing and delicious."

Rich are the delights of late nineteenth-century Manchester for young siblings Edie and Gnome. They bicker, banter, shout and scream their way through the city’s streets, embracing its charms and dangers. But as the pair mature, it is Gnome who revels in the night-time, while Edie is confined to the day. She wakes exhausted each morning, unable to quell a sickening sense of unease, and confused at living a half-life.
Reaching the cusp of adulthood, Edie’s confusion turns to resentment and she is determined to distance herself from Gnome once and for all. But can she ever be free from someone who knows her better than she knows herself?
Exploring the furthest limits of sexual and gender fluidity, this is a story about the vital importance of being honest with yourself. Every part of yourself. After all, no-one likes to be kept in the dark.

Available in all formats - hardback, paperback, audio, ebook.

The first reviews have come in for ‘The Night Brother’ – and they’re good. Wow!

"Echoes of Angela Carter's more fantastical fiction reverberate through this exhuberant tale... Garland's narrative is enjoyably energetic." - Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times 18.6.2017

"A rich and ambitious tale set in late Victorian Manchester... Garland's prose is a delight: playful and exhuberant. There are shades of Angela Carter in the mad world she creates... Full marks for style.' - Toni Senior, The Times 3.6.2017

Thank you to Happy Meerkat and Little Bookness Lane for loving my words.

“Once again I find myself lost in the reverie of Rosie Garland’s exquisite writing. Extraordinarily enchanting, The Night Brother’s emotional bounty caresses each page… Embracing the intimacies and complexities of the heart and soul, The Night Brother doesn’t feel like a story, but a delectable gift. All that remains is for me to offer a thunderous round of applause for what is simply an expressive, breath-taking wonder.”
Little Bookness Lane – read the full text here
https://littlebooknesslane.wordpress.com/2017/05/25/book-review-the-night-brother-by-rosie-garland/

“The Night Brother is a wonderful historical fiction novel with an amazing and intriguing twist… From the moment I read the first page I was hooked… A real exciting and also thought-provoking page-turner that I can really recommend.”
Happy Meerkat – read the full text here
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1888724819

Published in Novels

News and Events

  • 16.11.2020: Guardian Poem of the Week - Rosie Garland
    16.11.2020: Guardian Poem of the Week - Rosie Garland

    Thrilled that 'Now that you are not-you' is Guardian Poem of the Week!

    "A very modern, secular kind of elegy reflects on death with a surprising lightness" - Carol Rumens

    "This week’s poem is from What Girls Do in the Dark, the latest collection by the multi-talented Rosie Garland. It stands alone, while extending the narrative of the short poem that immediately precedes it, Stargazer. The setting of Stargazer is a hospital bedside, where the dying patient’s visitor must navigate “the vertigo tilt / of old words like spread, outlook, time.” That poem ends with the metaphors that will be reconfigured in Now that you are not-you. “Doctors / murmur the names of new constellations / - astrocyte, hippocampus, glioblastoma – and calculate / the growth of nebulae; this rising tide of cells that climbs / the Milky Way of the spine to flood your head with light.”

    Read the whole article here...

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2020/nov/16/poem-of-the-week-now-that-you-are-not-you-by-rosie-garland

    Written on Monday, 16 November 2020 15:28
  • 12.11.2020 - ‘What Girls Do in the Dark’ launch event – ONLINE
    12.11.2020 - ‘What Girls Do in the Dark’ launch event – ONLINE

    7.30pm GMT

    Join us to celebrate the launch of What Girls Do in the Dark by Rosie Garland, with guests Tania Hershman & Ian Humphreys
    About this Event
    Join Rosie Garland, plus guest writers Tania Hershman & Ian Humphreys to celebrate the publication of Rosie's new poetry collection What Girls Do in the Dark.
    Thursday 12th November 7.30pm (GMT)
    This event will be streamed live & can be viewed now, through the Nine Arches Press YouTube channel.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9Z7yq1Ey_U&feature=youtu.be

     

    Written on Thursday, 05 November 2020 15:48
  • Cover reveal for 'What Girls Do In The Dark' (Nine Arches Press)
    Cover reveal for 'What Girls Do In The Dark' (Nine Arches Press)

    I thought it wasn't possible to feel any more thrilled about joining Nine Arches Press
    - then I see the stunning cover of my new poetry collection, 'What Girls Do In The Dark'.
    Out October 2020
    https://www.ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/what-girls-do-in-the-dark.html

    Written on Tuesday, 14 July 2020 13:31
  • April 2020 - The Night Brother, Must-Read Manchester
    April 2020 - The Night Brother, Must-Read Manchester
    Manchester Confidential chooses The Night Brother as a must-read Manchester novel!

    Dystopian classics to modern crime - Nine must-read Manchester novels

    “Fantasy, romance, sci-fi, comedy…we’ve got a genre for everyone
    There’s a very good reason Manchester is a UNESCO City of Literature, as we highlighted before its bid to join the prestigious network in 2017. Innovative publishers, diverse bookshops and a lively events scene make it an unrivalled literary melting pot.

    Rosie Garland’s The Night Brother is our historical highlight
    Ever the entertainer, Rosie Garland sung in post-punk band The March Violets and now performs ‘twisted cabaret’ as Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen. But she’s also a literary maverick with an array of essays, short stories and poetry to her name (much of which she also reads at spoken words events citywide) and three acclaimed novels. Her latest, The Night Brother, navigates themes of gender and identity through two siblings in Victorian Manchester. Rich and Gothic, it’s a must for fans of Angela Carter.”

    https://confidentials.com/manchester/dystopian-classics-to-modern-crime-nine-must-read-manchester-novels

    Written on Thursday, 16 April 2020 18:18
  • April 2020 - The Night Brother - Best Northern Read
    April 2020 - The Night Brother - Best Northern Read

    An unexpected & encouraging piece of news!
    Northern Soul has selected 'The Night Brother' as a Best Northern Read

    Desmond Bullen, Northern Soul writer
    “In days that can seem desolate and uncertain, there’s a lot to be said for windows into a better world and, ultimately, joyfully, that is exactly the view that The Night Brother by Rosie Garland affords. Not that its window seat is cheaply achieved. Far from it.
    Rooted with disbelief-suspending specificity in Manchester at the end of the 19th century, Garland’s novel blossoms compellingly from the exquisite simplicity of its central conceit, one which owes the tiniest debt to the 1971 horror film Dr. Jekyll And Sister Hyde. Edie and her brother Gnome are joined in a very particular symbiosis, so that their singular sibling rivalry threatens to be the undoing of both. Themes that could be leaden in other hands emerge from the premise with a beautiful lightness of touch, developing into a persuasive fable of inclusivity and self-acceptance. This is a book that sings a rainbow at its end.”


    https://www.northernsoul.me.uk/books-best-northern-reads-part-one/

    Written on Thursday, 09 April 2020 15:26