Contemporary literature is an amorphous, expansive thing, and it isn’t always easy to pinpoint how or why it is changing or what it may become. But in the current moment, at least one promising development is certain: literary writing that challenges or refuses stable gender binaries is of increasing critical and aesthetic prominence. The last month alone has seen the publication and widespread critical acclaim of Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, a moving, multi-genre consideration of gender fluidity (among other themes). At the end of April, too, American audiences were finally able to access Anne Garétta’s Sphinx — wonderfully translated from the French by Emma Ramadan — a novel that uses no gender markers to refer to its protagonists. The below list contains, with these books in mind, a collection of novels that feature agender, bigender, or gender-fluid characters and narrators. Not by any means a definitive list, the hope is that it can help expand the conversation started by Nelson, Garétta, and the writers featured here.
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin
This groundbreaking 1969 literary classic depicts a society that lacks fixed genders, and, as a result, gender discrimination. Its influence on later representations of gender in all categories of fiction is comparable to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando.