It’s equalities week here at Hertford College and our Library Team is proud to be supporting with their display of books from their Liberation Collection and beyond, covering Women*s, LGBTQ+, Disability, BME and Class equality
Current Hertford Undergradiate, Evie Raja (BA Archaeology and Anthropology, 2021 and JCR Equal Opportunities Rep) has been engaging with the Hertford Community this week and collecting book reviews from titles featured on the Equalities Week bookshelf. A special thanks to Evie.
We will share two of the book reviews, below.
Nell Miles (MBiol Biology, 2020 and JCR Environment and Ethics Rep) has reviewed Afropean by Johny Pitts. (Please note that this book can currently be found on the Equalities Week display but afterwards, will be found at classmarks D 12/17).
Zara Davies (Geography, 2021) has reviewed Vanishing Monuments by John Elizabeth Stintzi: (Please note that this book can currently be found on the Equalities Week display but afterwards, will be found at M 70 STI/1).
Vanishing Monuments is a novel written by the non-binary author John Elizabeth Stintzi (they/them). This intricate and evocative story features Alani, a non-binary and genderfluid photographer who returns to their childhood home, forced to reconcile with the memories there as their mother’s dementia worsens. It is a book that depicts the ever present and irreconcilable relationship between the past, memory, and family.
Alani’s return home is framed by the memory palace they have built of a place where they never truly wanted to return. Constantly torn between running away, whether it is towards the flooded Assiniboine River or away from their partner Genny, Alani constantly returns to their “concentric rebellions”.
The book is structured in this circular and thoughtful manner. Each old room of the house is simultaneously a recollection—part of a memory palace formed through a combination of childhood trauma and bitter nostalgia—and a reality, as Alani starts to take it apart. Stinzti explores the concept of gender as a performance, where, in Alani’s codependent and intimate relationship of a mother they didn’t truly know, they return to being “the girl”. The house hums with memories of the things said to the girl in the mirror, the boy in the mirror, and the Alani who exists outside of it. Like Alani, their mother was a photographer, and Alani’s final act in preparing the house for sale is to dismantle her photography darkroom.
“When the monument vanishes, what still stands?” Stinzti frames narratives of palatable and unpalatable memory, distortion and truth, the uniqueness of morning, and control and avoidance within this unsettled semi-autobiography. Vanishing Monuments provides an intimate perspective of genderfluidity from a non-binary author. Vanishing Monuments was shortlisted for the 2021 Amazon.ca First Novel Award.