Nishta J. Mehra is a first-generation American, the daughter of Indian immigrants who was born and raised in Memphis, Tenn. She now lives in Phoenix, Ariz., with her wife, who is white, and her adopted child, who is black.

In her new book of essays, “Brown White Black,” she paints a vivid picture of their experiences dealing with America’s rigid ideas of race, gender and sexuality, as well as her family’s daily struggle to make space for itself amid increasing social and idealistic divisions in society.

“The Best Bad Things”

Katrina Carrasco

Crime fiction

If there is a book with more gender fluidity than this, I haven’t seen it. Protagonist Alma Rosales can change into any shape she likes. For a large part of this story, she presents herself as Jack Camp, a rough dockworker looking for work. In reality, she’s a former Pinkerton’s investigator.


Mt. Airy author Janet Mason is well known on the Philadelphia literary circuit and within the local LGBTQ community for her provocative writing that includes poetry, memoir and fiction. Her last book, “Tea Leaves,” won the Golden Crown Literary Award for lesbian memoir.

Mason’s new novel is set primarily in biblical times. “THEY: A Biblical Tale of Secret Genders” (Adelaide Books, $22) is quite different from Mason’s other work. The novel details the story of Tamar of the Hebrew Bible and a twin sister Tabitha, Tabitha’s intersex twins and the dawning of the concept of defining male gender as preferential, along with the concept of gender as finite — two genders with no variants.


Author Robert Fieseler’s new book, “Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation” dives deep into the events leading up to and the aftermath of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire, a tragic and unsolved arson that claimed the lives of 31 men and one woman on June 24, 1973, the largest mass murder of gays until the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando in 2016.

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