Fairest: Book summary and reviews of Fairest by Meredith Talusan

Fairest

A Memoir

by Meredith Talusan

Fairest by Meredith Talusan X
Fairest by Meredith Talusan
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About this book

Book Summary

A singular, beautifully written coming-of-age memoir of a Filipino boy with albinism whose story travels from an immigrant childhood to Harvard to a gender transition and illuminates the illusions of race, disability, and gender.

Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a "sun child" from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Coping with the strain of parental neglect and the elusive promise of U.S. citizenship, Talusan found childhood comfort from her devoted grandmother, a grounding force as she was treated by others with special preference or public curiosity.

As an immigrant to the United States, Talusan came to be perceived as white. An academic scholarship to Harvard provided access to elite circles of privilege but required Talusan to navigate through the complex spheres of race, class, sexuality, and her place within the gay community. She emerged as an artist and an activist questioning the boundaries of gender. Talusan realized she did not want to be confined to a prescribed role as a man, and transitioned to become a woman, despite the risk of losing a man she deeply loved.

Throughout her journey, Talusan shares poignant and powerful episodes of desirability and love that will remind readers of works such as Call Me By Your Name and Giovanni's Room. Her evocative reflections will shift our own perceptions of love, identity, gender, and the fairness of life.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This elegant memoir examining whiteness, womanhood, and the shaping of identity will resonate with readers of any community, LGBTQ or not." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Gender, race, and sexuality are all foremost themes throughout the book, and it is a notable read for those particularly interested in these topics. However, Talusan's account also offers an intensely personal example of how one's relation to oneself changes over time, shaped by circumstances and personal choices, making it a compelling story for a wide variety of readers." - Library Journal (starred review)

"A captivatingly eloquent memoir." - Kirkus Reviews

"Talusan is one of the most stellar essayists writing today, and one of the very best at examining the many different meanings of transition." - O: The Oprah Magazine

"A marvel of a story wrought with near-archeological precision and deep inquiry into history, hope, joy and human redemption. An artist's statement that offers new ways to think and feel in bodies cast ashore, Fairest is a ball of light hurled into the dark undertow of migration and survival. It is also funny, utterly alive, and fashioned with care and hope." - Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

"A searching, rigorously self-examining memoir, Fairest grapples beautifully and seriously with questions of gender, race, colorism, migration, colonialism, queerness, privilege, class, and belonging. A debut luminous with insight." - R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries

"Fairest is a powerful panoptic memoir which frames the totality of a life being lived, not just the fractions of it. It's a love story, a queer story, an immigrant story, an American story, a coming of age story—a revolutionary story. A most necessary and important book in a world which aims to other us from not just who we are, but who we are meant to become." - Amber Tamblyn, author of Era of Ignition

"Meredith Talusan has written a truly brilliant memoir with sparkling sentences, navigating incredibly complex questions of privilege with ease and candor. Everything here feels true and necessary--a rare literary accomplishment. I'll recommend this book to my queer family and my Arkansan family alike, and to students who want to know why we continue to believe in the power of memoir." - Garrard Conley, author of Boy Erased

"Fairest is a deeply humane, beautifully powerful memoir that resists easy categorization...Talusan's acrobatic feat here is to create an accessible and sophisticated negotiation of identity on a national and geopolitical scale that hews beautifully to a nuanced, coming-of-age story of love and loss and finding oneself in the wreckage that will surely resonate with readers of all backgrounds. A gorgeous and necessary memoir." - Thomas Page McBee, author of Man Alive and Amateur

"Meredith Talusan's Fairest is a story of crossing boundaries—of race, of gender, of convention. In this wise and brilliant memoir, she travels from one side of the globe to the other—but more profoundly, she takes us to the center of her passionate, fiery heart. Fairest is a gorgeous, gnarly addition to the canon of transgender memoir." - Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She's Not There and Good Boy

"Gorgeously written, exquisitely perceptive, and flagrantly new, Fairest tells of a life in pursuit of beauty— of the flesh, of literature and music, and the beauty of becoming one's self in all complexity...There is much to learn here about identity, and so very much pleasure in the written word." - Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body

This information about Fairest was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Meredith Talusan

Meredith Talusan is an award-winning author and journalist who has written for the Guardian, the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Nation, WIRED, SELF, and Condé Nast Traveler, among many other publications, and has contributed to several essay collections. She has received awards from GLAAD, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. She is also the founding executive editor of them., Condé Nast's LGBTQ+ digital platform, where she is currently contributing editor.

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