Small Beauty tells the story of Mei, a mixed race trans woman managing the death of her cousin, the ways she contorts to navigate racism and transphobia, and her desire for community as she takes an opportunity to leave the city and revisit a town from her family’s past, where she discovers queer family history while parsing through her own anger and trauma.
Author: jia qing wilson-yang
Cover by LOKI Design
Winner of 29th Annual Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction, Finalist for Writers’ Trust of Canada Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ Emerging Writers (2016)
Cycling through time, points of view, and rural and city life, the novel introduces us to Mei’s community in fictional Dundurn and Herbertsville, loosely based on Southern Ontario places: Annette and Connie, other Asian trans women from the drop-ins; Sandy, Mei’s older cousin and constant (if aggressive) support; Diane, an older lesbian with a pick-up and secret links to Mei’s blood family; and Nelson, a presence lost before found, whose story is told in pictures sewn into a suitcase. Interspersed with one culminating night-time lake scene, the book carries us through these stories and towards their completion as the frustrating, necessary web that keeps Mei attached to the world.
“Literature needs Small Beauty.” —Tethered by Letters
“A quiet, gorgeous meditation on grief, race, and community, Wilson-Yang’s writing more than delivers on the title’s promise.” —Lambda Literary
“Wilson-Yang’s writing is uncommon, combining a rare talent for poetic description with a solid grasp on the techniques of prose.” —Plenitude
“Some of the most gorgeous writing trans lit has been blessed with.” —The Winnipeg Review
“Wilson-Yang deftly weaves and unweaves the threads of narrative tropes that have come to dominate the telling of the stories of trans women, lesbians, migrants, and Chinese North Americans.” —Autostraddle
“Small Beauty’s quiet power is well on its way to much-deserved acclaim.” —Montreal Review of Books
“Evocative of classic Canadiana, Wilson-Yang’s book offers a fresh revisioning of the settler/colonial gothic, with one foot in a magic realist lyric and the other in regionalist gritlit.” —Vela Magazine
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