Diversity And Depth In Black Lesbian Writing
'Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction' explores the experiences of being black and a lesbian.
The sixteen stories from ten different authors in this anthology have been collected by Allen and Cherelle with one aim in mind, which they outline in their introduction. It is "to focus on writing that celebrates Black lesbian identities." The collection does that in no uncertain terms.
These stories are strong, thought-provoking, and no two are remotely similar. There are erotic stories, romantic stories, whimsical stories and stories that are just plain hard to take for the power of the emotions they stir within. In these tales, we are shown everyday lives in the present and past, as well as extraordinary lives in places that defy a time or place. There isn’t room in a review like this to outline each story, but mentioning the following ones which stood out for me should also illustrate the depth and range of the anthology.
In The Other Side of Crazy by Eternity Philops, we meet Delilah, who’s fed up of her cheating girlfriend and is determined to do something about it. This had me chuckling until the very end when I was overwhelmed with sadness at the reality of Delilah’s situation. Pretty by S. Andrea Allen is a powerful piece about being proud of who you are - the size you are, the way you look, whatever it might be. Who Cooks For You? by Claudia Moss is a deliciously erotic romance about a beautiful chef transforming the holiday of a woman who has just had her relationship end in a cruel way. The Cigar Box by Sheree L. Greer is a bittersweet tale of a woman meeting the lover of her now dead sister when she never even knew for sure that her sister was lesbian. Two Moons by K. A. Smith is a beautifully poetic and amusing tale of a girl called Selene who falls in love with the moon, and what happens when that love is reciprocated.
While you may not like every story - and that will be true of any anthology you read - you will be left in no doubt about the skill of each author in crafting their tale. The common thread is Black and lesbian, but the diversity of the stories here outlines the extraordinary depth of talent that is out there, and which needs to find the light of day. As the editors say in their introduction, in the modern publishing world, this should be easier than it apparently is. They throw up some interesting questions about how invisible Black lesbian writing seems to be, which makes anthologies like this even more important for showing just what is possible, both to the writers and to publishers.