It’s 1920, and Boston is gradually returning to normal after the Great War despite anarchists trying to spread fear. So, when a man’s body is pulled out of the Charles River, the homicide department assigns the case to the unconventional Khalil Zamzar, a first-generation Maronite Arab, and the rookie, African American detective, Myssiah Pomare, a young, traumatized war hero from the South. The case may well remain unsolved and the dead man’s picture added to the many on Zamzar’s office wall.
The body, however, turns out to be a Harvard academic, a homosexual, the pathologist claims, and unpopular with his peers. This leads Zamzar and Pomare via the cruising grounds near the river across to Cambridge and the white male privilege of Harvard itself. There, where an Arab or an African American would likely be rejected for admission, a not so hidden culture of ‘inversion’ flourished until Harvard decided to take the law into their own hands.
As Zamzar and Pomare’s own relationship develops from their respective secrets, the detectives must choose between justice for the dead man and justice for the victims of prejudice.
The sordidness of the failing Ponzi Scheme, the anarchist bombings, a world where homosexuality is repressed by brutal crackdowns, the situation of women in the year they gained the vote in the US are issues central to Harvard’s Hatreds. Who hates whom enough for a string of killings and what are the ethical and philosophical parameters of murder?
Harvard’s Hatreds – intense, provoking, searches for answers.
Can there be a righteous murder? What is the perfect crime? At what point is revenge against homophobia justified? Set during World War I and the 1918 Spanish Flu, Pansies’ Revenge explores these questions.
A book group is reading Crime and Punishment and becomes involved in what crime and punishment means to queers and lesbians, pacifists and free-thinkers in a time of war and contagion. Two pro-war proselytisers and virulent homophobes disappear off the streets of Wellington. For months they have been publicly vilifying “pansies”.
Pansies’ Revenge probes the soul and passion of a city gripped by fear and highlights the record of homophobia, and its resistance, in New Zealand at the time. Romance, love, revenge, women’s rights, pacifism, anti-intellectualism, sex, and gender – the novel jumps into all the issues and shows that a hundred years later we may not have changed as much as we think we have.
The Smile of the Dispossessed is set in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Malaysia and Indonesia. It tells the story of Fadhi and Adam who flee Baghdad in the final days of the Saddam Hussein regime when they are outed as “sexual deviants” and accused of being enemies of the state. Despite having been lovers for many years, under the pressures of being refugees, they separate and go their own ways, both men hoping to find freedom in a country that will accept them for who they are.
Within the context of shifting ideological and social norms and political allegiances, the novel explores the lives of men who have sex with men. What it means to be a refugee and dispossessed of one’s dignity, identity and security is central to this novel. The Smile of the Dispossessed demonstrates the enduring requirement to maintain faith in humanity, oneself, and the power of love.
I loved this book about a Palestinian and Iraqi gay couple looking for asylum in different countries and couldn’t put it down. (…) Exploring sexuality, politics, religion and underground networks that help or threaten refugees, it opened worlds to me I found fascinating. – Amazon reviewer
I loved this book (…) It’s compelling and it reads beautifully – the language is often lyrical and poetic. This is an elegant book: romance, the tragedy of migration and the difficulties of being LGB in repressive settings are all presented in a well-written novel. – Amazon reviewer
George thinks he’s a real man…until he is seduced by an American serviceman on duty in New Zealand during WW2.
Neddy, the son of Lebanese migrants, marries a peasant girl in an attempt to overcome his attraction to men.
Garth, an intellectual, working-class Catholic boy, escapes to Mexico but eventually returns to reveal a painful secret.
Set in New Zealand, Lebanon and Mexico between 1942 and 1986, Sucking Feijoas follows the lives of gay men and how, with ingenuity, courage and love, they managed their lives – despite the odds. Now in its third edition, this deeply engaging story about sexuality, class, race and the culture wars that surrounded them, is as relevant as ever. Sucking Feijoas is riveting storytelling, gay history, empowering.
I’m a great fan of this classic of gay literature, nostalgic yet tormented, unforgettable. – Fay Weldon
With humour and tenderness, this richly rewarding novel charts half a century in the lives of three gay men in New Zealand, and the suffering that comes from leading a double life. Story telling at its best: intelligent, entertaining, insightful, passionate. – Gay Men’s Press