Margins and Murmurations

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Written by a trans woman and sex worker, Margins and Murmurations puts transgender, sex work and femininity at the centre. In this sensitive exploration of exclusion, Otter Lieffe calls us to renew our struggles against oppression and to proudly reclaim the margins that so many of us call home.

Otter’s novels can be read as a trilogy, in any order, or as stand-alone stories.

Transfeminism. Sex work. Time travel.

This is the story of Ash, a trans woman and healer living in a corner of Europe controlled by a militarized state. Amidst the economic crash of the 2020s, this land, once a hub of diversity, saw the rise of a state-imposed monoculture of gender, sexuality, ability and race. Those that didn’t fit, known as the divergents, were imprisoned, expelled or worse.

Ash and her best friend Pinar long ago escaped the City, left behind their days of fighting State oppression, and are eking out a calmer life in the forest, ravaged by the effects of climate change. One day, Jason, a resistance fighter, arrives abruptly into their life, reigniting personal and political drives and they find themselves drawn back into the fight.

Joining trans and queer organisers, sex workers and other members of a hidden underclass, they risk everything to return to the City and face their oppressors. In this fight for dignity, self-determination and their survival, Ash’s ability to transcend time, a trait that until now she has considered her curse, turns out to be a more powerful weapon than anyone could have imagined.

Praise for Margins:

“Reviewing self-published books is less and less of a gamble. When reading trans literatures, reading self-published books is a necessity. Even now that traditional publishing is increasingly open to trans themes, there are entire swathes of trans experiences that surface mostly only in self-published and small-press works. Margins and Murmurations by Otter Lieffe is a strong illustration of this phenomenon, in multiple respects: from the friendly portrayals of sex workers to non-cis-passing trans women being hounded even by supposed feminists, it brings topics into speculative fiction that are still far from the mainstream.”

—Bogi Takács, Strange Horizons

“It is difficult to find fiction where you can see yourself reflected back, with characters you can relate to. I am not trans, but identify as gender queer, so this putting of gender and queerness on the table gave me a narrative feast. A murmuration is a stunning sky-filled congregation of hundreds of starlings, dancing like a heartbroken cloud, as one. In that way, I felt part of this book.

It is such a beautiful book that deserves wider exposure.”

—Dolly Sen, Disability Arts Online

“Ahhh that moment when a self-published title blows you away! Otter Lieffe’s novel Margins and Murmurations was fantastic. It offers diverse queer characters, dystopia, a bit of time travel, and resistance…This novel is transfeminist, intersectional, and anti-capitalist. It calls out trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs), people who tokenize their marginalized friends and loved ones, the objectification of sex workers, and more. Gender-inclusive language and pronouns are used where applicable. It’s amazing. Trans and nonbinary readers will see themselves and their experiences in this novel. Cis readers will hopefully learn a lot from it…Margins and Murmurations includes pieces of history, especially through Ash’s travels in time. I had to pause to go down the Google rabbit hole more than once, and I always love when a book makes me do that. The writing is lovely, it has a nice quick pace, it’s exciting, and it’s #ownvoices. Highly recommend.”

—Monika Durbin, Lovely Bookshelf

 

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A list of potential content warnings.

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