We have no shortage of amazing writers in Australia – after all, there’s an entire hashtag dedicated to it under #LoveOzYA!
Two recent anthologies focus on stories from our amazing #LoveOzYA authors – Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories and Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories. Kindred obviously focuses on queer #ownvoices authors, while Underdog features stories from new authors that were unpublished before.
Both anthologies are incredibly diverse in terms of the stories that are included, and it’s such a wonderful way to showcase the amazing diversity of authors we have in Australia.Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories by Michael Earp, Jax Jackie Brown, Claire G. Coleman, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen Van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde, Nevo Zisin
Published by Walker Books Australia on June 1, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, LGBT, Own Voices
Book Depository | Publisher | Booktopia
Add to Goodreads
What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #OwnVoices collection, twelve of Australia’s finest queer writers explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us.
Compelling queer short fiction by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to the #LoveOzYA community including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.
Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories offers a fantastic collection of queer stories from own voices authors.
The intersectional representation was also fantastic, covering many different identities including disability, transgender, cultural and more. Along with gay, lesbian and transgender rep, we also have disability, Asian and Arab rep, gender-neutral rep and also one about mental illness/darkness.
It was so wonderful to read such a diverse range of stories, from essays, to contemporary and dystopian fiction. The stories also range in tone from the bleak, to the heartfelt, the sweet and romantic to the intense and emotional. Some of the stories captured the sweet love of adolescence, others about darkness and depression, and others about surviving an unfamiliar world together. There’s some memoirs, essays and fictional stories mixed in as well.
While I liked most of the stories as a whole, as with every anthology, there were a few standouts and a few that kind of fell short.
My favourites were:
Waiting by Jen Wilde – about a queer fangirl waiting in line for a convention who finds her own people. Her best friend is really judgemental and puts her down for what she loves, however she does end up realising this as she meets some new friends who love cons as much as she does.
Questions to Ask Straight Relatives by Benjamin Law – I’m not sure if this was non-fiction, but it read like an essay and I loved it all the same. About a gay Asian guy who is often judged by his relatives and ends up coming out to his grandmother about his identity. Such a heartfelt read about homosexuality between cultures and different generations.
Light Bulb by Nevo Zisin – A story about monsters living in the darkness for a person who is more comfortable in the dark, than the light. The imagery with the monsters is actually quite scary, and it had the reader questioning at times whether it was real. I loved the touching relationship between the character and their father who accepted their child for who they were, darkness and all.
Thoughts on some other stories:
Stormlines by Alison Evans – About two non-binary characters who meet in a post-apolcayptic world affected by global warming and are learning to survive. The imagery here is so vivid especially with fishing and survival.
I Like Your Rotation by Jax Jacki Brown – This was such a sweet story about two disabled people in a wheelchair who are also in a small town. They’re both lesbian and become fast friends as they get to know each other, and it battles a lot of the comments that you can get being of both identities.
One that didn’t quite fit:
Laura Nyro at the Wedding by Christos Tsiollkas – This story made me viscerally uncomfortable and I definitely didn’t think it was appropriate for a teen anthology (especially because it’s targeted at teens), because the only teen character is the one who is in a relationship with her teacher. It talks about two gay men who want to get married, and one of them wants to reconcile with his father who was labelled as a paedophile. While his father definitely dealt with the repercussions of his actions, the story of this was about forgiveness and hope which is definitely controversial given the subject matter.
Trigger warning: paedophilia, sexual abuse
I really enjoyed what Kindred had to offer in terms of the different, own voices queer stories with a very Australian feel to them. The stories focused on intersectional identities and showcases the differences in experiences across many queer identities.
My only reservation is that the anthology would’ve better be suited targeted at the adult market, as the inclusion of some of the stories skewed older and more adult. Others captured the innocence and naivety of young love and coming of age and finding themselves.
I always find it difficult to give star rating to anthologies – but I’m really glad that I picked up Kindred because there are many gems in here that left me with a lasting impression. I definitely think there is something for everyone here.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$24.99 or from The Book Depository.
Thank you to Walker Books Australia for sending me a review copy!
Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories by Tobias Madden, Sofia Casanova, Cassi Dorian, Michael Earp, Jes Layton, Sophie L. Macdonald, Stacey Malacari, Kaneana May, K.M. Stamer-Squair, Sarah Taviani, Vivian Wei, Felicity Martin
on March 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
Add to Goodreads
Short tales from the Australian writers of tomorrow.
#LoveOzYA celebrates the best of new Australian writing for teenage readers. It has grown from a humble hashtag into a movement, reflecting the important role young-adult fiction plays in shaping our current generation of readers. This anthology collects, for the first time, some of the tremendous work from the #LoveOzYA community.
Featuring a foreword by award-winning Australian novelist Fleur Ferris (Risk, Wreck, Black and Found), Underdog celebrates the diverse, dynamic and ever-changing nature of our nation's culture. From queer teen romance to dystopian comedy, from hard-hitting realism to gritty allegory, this brilliant, engrossing and inspiring collection of short stories will resonate with any teen reader, proving, yet again, why there is just so much to love about #LoveOzYA.
Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories
What a fantastic collection of diverse stories! Underdog really captures what it means to be Australian, through different voices, themes and genres. Reading it felt both familiar and new, as these stories highlighted beautiful places in our country but also the wonderful diversity that we have here – from LGBTQIA+ voices, to those across cultures, minds and stories.
Here’s a rundown on each of the stories:
Meet and Greet: An adorable queer boy meets boy romance that I absolutely loved!
Breathe Me In: A haunting tale about a bunyip and a dreamer who warns against them.
Remnants: A dystopian focusing on a girl understanding her grandmother.
Mediocre Heroes: A modern superhero story about waiting for your time to come, and about embracing your identity – despite what others may say about it.
The Swan: A story about a bothersome swan stuck to a girl.
The Chinese Menu for the Afterlife: About a Chinese-Australian living in Sydney who is mourning her grandmother who has passed.
Variation: About a boy who has discovered his love for ballet, and his conflict with another ballet boy.
Chemical Expression: An awkward girl wanting to buy weed at school to cope with her grief.
The Bees: Apocalypse is coming, a girl just wants to save her Nan instead of escaping with her mum and baby sister.
The Gap Between Us: Two friends on a Great Ocean Road Trip wondering what’s next for them after uni.
Afterdeath: A creative exposition about a Turkish and Indian teen exploring life after death.
Living Rose: Two sisters, one studious and the other a dreamer finally embrace their differences.
I really enjoyed what Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories had to offer in terms of the different stories that were offered and how it boosts new authors who hadn’t previously been published.
There were definitely some stand out favourites for me, like Meet and Greet, Variation and Mediocre Heroes. Others however, were a bit awkward to read due to the sentence structure and differences in tone. This is always the case with anthologies however – you’ll always have a a few stand outs and others that fall by the wayside.
The editors did a fantastic job in putting together this anthology and it really captures the talent and diversity of authors that we have in Australia.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Underdog: #LoveOzYA Short Stories is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$19.99 or from The Book Depository.
Thank you to Underdog for sending me a review copy!