queen shulamit

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[Image description: A crocheted doll with brown skin wearing purple clothing; the first picture has her posed next to a book with a yellow-orange cover for size comparison]

In honor of Jewish Comics Day, I would like to present Shulamit bat Noach, Queen of Perach! She’s one of the main characters of @shiraglassman‘s Mangoverse, the first book of which, The Second Mango, can be seen in the first photo. Shulamit took a little while to find her footing as queen, but she now rules with peace and justice in her heart and mind. It’s not a series of comics, but it is by and about Jewish people without focusing on either historical Jewish tragedies or dripping with queer angst. If you’re looking for books with LGBTQIAP+ Jewish characters, you could do a lot worse than the Mangoverse!

Shulamit’s outfit here is based on an amalgam of a lot of the stuff she wears in the official art. It’s all in purple, because purple is Shulamit’s favorite color. It’s hard to tell in the pictures, but her hair is braided and curled up (and held in place by hot glue, because I like to avoid actual sewing whenever I can); she also has two strands of chain stitch around her hairline to resemble the smaller braids in much of the art. Her skin is also a little darker than it’s usually depicted, but it’s hard to find good shades of brown yarn, and I thought it would be better to err on the side of darker than lighter. I had been hoping to have her sweetheart done as well, but Shulamit took longer than I thought, so Aviva will have to wait. Anyway, all in all, I’m pretty pleased with how Shulamit turned out.

gayrewind-deactivated20160403  asked:

RE: coding, is it possible to explicitly code, say, a fantasy people as being the Jewish people, despite the fact the setting is a secondary world?

Explicit Jewish representation in secondary-world fantasy

It’s not only possible but I’ve done it, in four books and several short stories. Perach, the made-up setting of A Harvest of Ripe Figs and my other books, is an imaginary Jewish Florida originally created out of my realization that if I wanted a queer Jewish Disney Princess, I was gonna have to invent her myself. (“Perach”, meaning flower, is my attempt at translating the word ‘Florida’ into Hebrew.)

The Jewishness of the characters is evident in their casual observance of Shabbat (there are usually pretty detailed Shabbat scenes in each book, since it happens every week), on-screen celebration of Pesach (Passover), Sukkot (in the next book, coming July 2016), and other holidays, and in the Yiddish spoken by the two transplant characters, warrior woman Rivka and wizard Isaac, who come from a vaguely Polish-German unnamed northern area far away.

The wine blessing on Shabbat, with the addition of a little wizard mischief

Here are some relevant quotes from my books. Take note of how I wove in cultural details that are normal experiences for me or my loved ones in the real world, translated into a sort of “Disney princess inspired” fantasy setting. Many of these techniques can be used if your fantasy setting’s Jewish characters are just walk-ons instead of leads; you can have a random man wearing a kippah or a woman who isn’t participating in the local religious tradition because she has her own.

Gluten-free challah at the royal Shabbat dinner for the first time (A Harvest of Ripe Figs):

The introduction of a challah that [Queen] Shulamit could actually eat caused quite the stir at the dinner table. Rivka’s mother Mitzi, who like many people had never entirely believed the queen’s claims of food-related sensitivities, asked the same questions over and over until everyone was relieved when Isaac just held up his hand and said, “Magic. It’s magic.”

“Oh, all right,” she said vaguely. “It’s not going to hurt me, is it?”

Another reference to the queen’s wheat problem, this time at the royal seder two months after she gave birth to the princess (Climbing the Date Palm):

“On all other nights, we eat all kinds of bread–” Here [Isaac] met the eyes of the queen, and chuckled sheepishly. “We would eat all kinds of bread, if we could,” he ad-libbed. From behind the look of harried happiness that enveloped her constantly in these early days of motherhood, she gave him a crooked grin. “And tonight, we eat only this stuff.” He held up a matzo cracker, and Naomi’s tiny hand waved in its direction.

“See that, little one?” Farzin murmured through a jolly smirk. “Someday, you, too, will be able to eat cardboard.”

Rivka in a foreign port town, about to enter a tournament to rescue a damsel in distress (who turns out to be a fellow Jew once they finally meet) (“Rivka in Port Saltspray” from Tales from Outer Lands):

There was a blast of trumpets, and then someone shouted, “Silence for the invocation!”

Rivka felt vaguely out of place as everyone else around her lowered their eyes respectfully and listened as a brass band began to play a local hymn. She knew this part of the world worshipped a pantheon of fascinatingly dysfunctional gods, at least, if the stories she’d picked up were any indication. Rivka usually didn’t care, but right now, when everyone else around her was engaged in group prayer, she felt her difference rather pointedly.

Her eyes happened to flicker over to the captive woman on the dais and noticed that she wasn’t praying, either.

At the very beginning of their friendship, a newly orphaned Baby Queen is confiding in her new bodyguard (from The Second Mango, and this scene is based on my own grieving for my father, who passed away in 2010):

Shulamit nodded, shifting positions within Rivka’s embrace so she could wipe her face clean. “Everyone around me, when they were mourning him, it was so wonderful to be surrounded by people who were sad about the same thing I was because I wasn’t alone, but it was also jarring because they were all talking about him as king, not as a father. When we put his kippah into the museum, everyone was talking about how much money it was worth and the embroidery by some famous artist and how it was a national relic, and all this – but I was just thinking of Shabbat, and seders, and – and it didn’t mean any of those things to me. It meant lighting candles. It meant he’d hid the afikomen in the palace for me and joking with his advisors as he waited around for me to find it so he could give me a new book. National treasure? I–” She blinked away new tears, but this time the look on her face was one of indignation.

Shabbat out in the wilderness, using “the sunset” as candles

You’d be right to be a little skeptical of a secondary world fantasy including real-world Judaism, because where did we escape from in the Passover story if there’s no Egypt? Who wrecked our stuff in the Chanukah story if there’s no Greece? To this I’d say: don’t squint at it too hard. For me, the ability to give myself and my readers a Jewish queen, Jewish warrior woman, Jewish wizard, fairy tales that normalize our lives and to show queer and blended families worshipping as we do in real life but with magic and palaces and swordfighting, too – that’s just way more important to me than making sure my worldbuilding is completely logical.

My main advice about this for someone not-Jewish is to repeat my preference for explicit Jewishness (rather than vague symbolic coding with room for plausible deniability or relies on one possibly insulting facet of our existence or reputation to stand for all of us) carries into secondary-world fantasy. If your MC’s aren’t Jewish it’s okay to say “and there are Jewish merchants over there” or “she lived in a little house across the street from where the Jewish neighborhood started”, or if you don’t want to use the words, having people be at rest from sundown to sundown one day a week or avoiding mixing meat and dairy might be a recognizable shortcut that’s a lot more literal and specific than phenotypes (which can be shared by many other cultures and often have Unfortunate Implications in fantasy lit) or reductive stuff about wandering far away from one’s homeland (which, again, is not specific to us.)

Remember, if a queen sitting down to a royal seder presided over by a wizard, or talking about how annoyed she is that she can’t eat sufganiyot (jelly donuts) at Chanukah any more because of her wheat problems, sounds too specific to you – that’s what existing fantasy lit has taught you, not the way reality works. Reality is that we all deserve our fairy tales, and fantasy as a genre is big enough and wonderful enough to have room for me and my folks, too. Harry Potter celebrates Christmas, after all.

If you’re Jewish and want to write stuff like mine, then you already know what to do. If you feel like you can’t, that’s the voice of marginalization lying to you. Create what’s in your heart and if you can think of a way to explain the worldbuilding better than I did, I wish you luck :)

Isaac’s rainbow-pride magic and rephrasing of Haggadah text replaces the typical lamb’s blood (or in my case, red yarn) put on doorways during Passover as protection

–Shira

Artwork credit on this post: @theloserfish, @kayaczek-draws (Kiddush)

anonymous asked:

I was wondering if you know of any books that are fantasy or perhaps dystopian that have queer/lesbian main characters? Thanks!

(Combining this ask with this one too since I haven’t had chance to answer it: “Do you know of any books that are fantasy, or perhaps dystopian. Anything with vampires… Oh, and if they could contain either genderqueer people or lesbians I would be v happy. Thanks”)

One of my favourite queer dystopian novels is probably Love in the time of Global Warming by Francesca Lee Block (x). Pretty much all the main characters are queer, the main character is bisexual, her love interest is a trans man, her two other friends are also queer, it’s been a while since I read it but from what I remember they end up in a same sex relationship together. “Her life by the sea in ruins, Pen has lost everything in the Earth Shaker that all but destroyed the city of Los Angeles. She sets out into the wasteland to search for her family, her journey guided by a tattered copy of Homer’s Odyssey. Soon she begins to realize her own abilities and strength as she faces false promises of safety, the cloned giants who feast on humans, and a madman who wishes her dead.”

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (x) is another novel set in a dystopia setting. “Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.” Austin is bisexual/pansexual though he never uses the words.

The Second Mango by Shira Glassman (x) is the first novel in her fantasy series. The main character is a lesbian and there are several other characters throughout the series who are also queer. “Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody think she’s faking.”

Proxy by Alex London (x) “Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death. Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.” The character Syd is gay from what I’ve read.

The End by Nora Olsen (x) I was reading an article (x) which said “my debut novel (The End) was an apocalyptic YA novel with lesbian, bisexual, and genderqueer main characters.” So while I haven’t read it you might wanna check it out (this article also talks about other dystopian queer novels). “When World War Three breaks out, seventeen-year-old Julia is on a school trip to Amsterdam, while fourteen-year-old Marly is trapped in a prison for delinquent girls. They both discover magical amulets, and try their best to save themselves and those around them. But it looks like their best will not be enough, as nuclear war threatens the survival of the human race. On her journey home to New York, Julia is joined by three other queer teens and the mysterious and alluring Ginger; lipstick lesbian Vikki; and five-thousand-year-old Skilly, who has an amulet that grants him eternal life.”

Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey (x) “Loup Garron was born and raised in Santa Olivia, an isolated, disenfranchised town next to a US military base inside a DMZ buffer zone between Texas and Mexico. A fugitive “Wolf-Man” who had a love affair with a local woman, Loup’s father was one of a group of men genetically-manipulated and used by the US government as a weapon. After her mother dies, Loup goes to live among the misfit orphans at the parish church, where they seethe from the injustices visited upon the locals by the soldiers. Eventually, the orphans find an outlet for their frustrations: They form a vigilante group to support Loup Garron who, costumed as their patron saint, Santa Olivia, uses her special abilities to avenge the town.” I think the main character is a lesbian and there is at least one other queer character.

And finally, because I just realised I didn’t include any vampires in this yet, here is a link to a list I did a while back: (x) and also a list for general LGBTQIA+ characters in sci fi and fantasy: (x)

I didn’t find as many genderqueer characters as I was hoping for but I’ll keep my eye for the future. Also, many of our followers often add to lists like this in the reblogs so keep an eye on that.

-Lauren

anonymous asked:

MayI have some feedback about The Second Mango by Shira Glassman, please, if that's okay to request? I've heard a lot of positive things about the book, but I've read two responses that deem it homophobic in how the book portrays the main character, Queen Shulamit, and her sexuality. What is your stance about the book?

I’ll be honest, I haven’t read it myself yet, but I’m really side-eyeing the idea that Shira Glassman’s portrayal of her main character would be homophobic, since she is queer herself. I hope that this criticism came from other queer women. Personally I’ve heard only good things about The Second Mango and am looking forward to reading it.

Novel Review: The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

Every time I tried to pick this book up something got in the way, at first it was general university, then actual exams, then family drama, then looking for a job (which I now have, but takes up even more time ugh) but finally I said “Right! That’s enough, it’s me and you book, we’re doing this!” And so I sat down and refused to stop until I was finished. Luckily it isn’t a long book, otherwise my eyes might have dried out and dehydration would have set in.

So here we are, one book later and writing the review I have been meaning to get to for literally months. The Second Mango is a fantasy novel set in the tropical lands of Perach with a main character who has just inherited the throne after her father’s death. At 20, Queen Shulamit is lonely. Her father is dead and her girlfriend (who also happens to be the only other lesbian that Shulamit knows) has run off, so what does she do? She goes on a quest to find a prospective partner. 

I have to admit that I didn’t like Shulamit very much at first. She’s quite a naive character in some ways, and naivety is one of those traits that always grates on me. As the book progressed, however, she did grow on me, as did the rest of the cast, though the majority of the book is focused on two characters, Shulamit and her bodyguard Rivka. I also loved how… simple the book was. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, I’m not sure it’s even the right word to use but there’s something light about it, it’s fun and about adventure and friendship and it’s the kind of book we deserve to read and not take seriously.

Added to this is the fact that it is a diverse book in more ways than one, with queer representation, poc characters and it’s general feminist feel. While I wouldn’t say it’s become a favourite of mine, it’s definitely a book I enjoyed reading, it’s such a nice break from the sad endings that LGBTQ+ characters seem to get these days, and it’s only the first book in the series which means there is plenty of time for it to develop.

Also, dragons. I mean. Come on. Dragons. You can’t beat books with Dragons AND queer characters, you just can’t.

-Lauren

p.s. find it on goodreads, along with the rest of the series.

The Second Mango by Shira Glassman 

[Goodreads]

Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody think she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.

Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay – Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.

Thoughts: 

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