Ace Recs: 3 Books with Asexual Characters of Colour

Posted January 14, 2018 by dove-author in Ace & Aro Rambling / 0 Comments


As is undoubtedly no surprise to anyone who’s heard of me, I really really love giving recommendations for books featuring asexual characters. As a reader and writer on the asexual spectrum, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen plenty of recommendations lists that are about asexual characters or that include asexual characters that repeat the same books over and over. Indeed, I’ve seen recommendations lists that explicitly stated that the handful of books the writer managed to find was all the asexual fiction out there. Considering it was missing several easy-to-find well-known and traditionally published books by respected authors… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

But it is true that, for many readers, books with asexual characters in them are difficult to find. Many aren’t readily available in bookstores even when they’re pretty popular and well-respected. When I was in Cambridge, I saw displays of several books nominated for the Hugo Awards because they were nominated for the Hugo Awards, but Every Heart a Doorway? Couldn’t find a single copy anywhere. Not on display and not on the shelves. They didn’t stock it. And I wish I could say it was just one bookstore, but it was every major chain I visited. Likewise, in libraries you’ll have more luck finding books featuring asexual characters if you already know the titles before you enter. In both cases, you’ll probably have to ask the staff to order a copy specifically, so venturing into bookshops or libraries and hoping to find books featuring asexual characters just isn’t likely to happen.

Especially in combination with the way recommendation lists for books with asexual representation are usually styled, this difficulty to find books if you don’t already know they exist feeds into a negative spiral where recommendations lists repeat the same books over and over with the same note that this is all there is or this is all the writer could find. Yet there is so much more available to readers…

This is a series that aims to present small lists of books featuring asexual characters with some brief personal commentary on the books. Each list consists of 3 books centred around a single, relatively broad theme. While, sadly, I have had to restrict my recommendations lists to 3 books instead of the more usual 5 found in recommendations lists, each list does consist of 3 unique books. There are no repeats of titles in this series of recommendation posts. This series consists of 10 posts for a total of 30 books featuring asexual characters in various roles.

Unless otherwise noted, assume that books mentioned either seem to assume all asexuals are aromantic or that they’ll erase aromanticism altogether.

I hope you’ll find something terrific to read in these lists! Most all categories have more than three books I could put there, but as I mentioned I only had space for a handful of books or stories. If you’d like to see even more of then, check out Claudie Arseneault’s database of aromantic and asexual (speculative) fiction, which features many more books starring asexual characters!

This week’s theme is…

3 Books with Asexual Characters of Colour

One of the things that comes up relatively frequently (ime) is a discussion of how white the asexual community is. Michael Paramo’s article Interrogating the Whiteness of the Asexual Community is an insightful read into some of the readers why the asexual community is so white.

It is reflected, as well, in the stories I’ve been featuring as most of the authors to date are white. As such, this week’s topic focuses on asexual characters of colour. As Paramo notes, the categories we generally use to discuss race are problematic enough on their own and they are, I think, more problematic for the fact that I’m grouping every ethnicity together into one single post. Sadly, I know of so few asexual characters of colour that… this list is almost all the stories I know. If you know more, please please tell me.

This week’s post also features books exclusively by authors of colour. I thought that, given how white the community and field are and how easily us white people get racism wrong, it was important to include only authors of colour on this list. While I’ve not set out to set authors of colour apart and have done my best to be inclusive while writing the other topics as well, I realise that this list may still read as Othering to people and I apologise in advance to anyone who is hurt by my choices in approaching this week’s topic.

I hope that choosing to also include a list of books with asexual characters of colour (written by authors of colour) in this initial series will ultimately help readers of colour find books that more closely match the intersectionality between race and asexuality that they experience.

Cover for Let's Talk about Love by Claire Kann

Let’s Talk about Love by Claire Kann

Alice had her whole summer planned. Nonstop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library-employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated–or understood.

Claire Kann’s debut novel Let’s Talk About Love, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, gracefully explores the struggle with emerging adulthood and the complicated line between friendship and what it might mean to be something more.

This is one of the few books that, as I’m writing up this series, is not yet available for purchase. It should be out in about a month after this post is published as it’s scheduled for a January 28, 2018 release. This book came to prominence because it features a Black author writing a Black asexual protagonist. By all accounts it’s a happy, bubbly contemporary romance that covers a lot about the asexual spectrum and acknowledges that romantic attraction is different from sexual attraction.

The initial draft shared on Swoon Reads raised some vocal concerns with asexual readers, but from all accounts these issues have been addressed and dealt with. The premise has always sounded fantastic and as it stands now it sounds absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

(Also look at that cover. That cover is gorgeous.)

Cover for No More Heroes by Michelle Kan

No More Heroes by Michelle Kan

The peaceful nights are kept under the clandestine and watchful eye of young, gifted vigilantes the world over. But a sudden rash of vigilante deaths heralds the arrival of a new and unfamiliar enemy – one whose motive is as unclear as their identity. Someone or something seems determined to disturb the peace, and they’re going straight for the watchmen to do it. In a city where those who are gifted make up their own rules, who will step forward when the threat of a swift end is real and there stands so little to gain?

No More Heroes is an urban fantasy action/adventure novel about young, would-be heroes who get more than they bargained for when they delve deeper into a world they never knew they were a part of. Featuring a diverse cast of players, discord, a mystery to be solved, plenty of literary action and high-stakes battles, No More Heroes is a story about self-belief and camaraderie, persistence in the face of trials, and what it means to be the best version of yourself.

Again, No More Heroes is a book I sadly haven’t yet been able to read, but it’s one I’m greatly looking forward to. It sounds right up my alley and if you’re looking for some more superhero fiction to tide you over while you wait for the next superhero film to be released, this sounds like it should fit the bill.

Cover for Plastic Wings (Evie Weiss Chronicles #1) by C.T. Callahan

Plastic Wings by C.T. Callahan

When seven-year-old Evie Weiss discovers a strange, sickly boy in her otherwise familiar forest, she has no idea what it holds for her world. He is a dark angel, one of a race of humanoid beings that feed on humanity and tear Evie’s world down around her. Years later, as humanity mounts a counter-attack against the dark angels, Evie remembers the boy in the forest and finds herself torn between her loyalty to her own people and feelings of compassion for these strange creatures that first captivated her as a child. It is the quest of one girl to unite two worlds so separated by war, but how can she close the gap between two races so determined to hate each other?

Plastic Wings has a strongly dystopian feel and comes with trigger warnings for abuse, assault, suicide, torture, and death. I haven’t had a chance to read this yet either and reviews discussing the ace rep are fairly sparse from what I can tell, but it’s been well-received by the readers I know and I’m looking forward to reading it myself. Post-apocalyptic/dystopia isn’t quite my preferred genre, but here look at that plot. Doesn’t that sound really cool? Reviewers generally agree that Callahan does some very interesting things with its angels, so if you’ve been looking for narratives that feature more angels…

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