Seven heartstoppingly gorgeous stories about young transgender life from from the Upper Midwest to New York City.
In seven light-filled prisms of short stories, Emily Zhou chronicles modern queer life with uncompromising and hilarious lucidity. Attending to the intimacy of Gen Z women’s lives, these stories move from the provinces to the metropolis, from chaotic student accommodation to insecure jobs, from parties to dates to the nights after, from haplessness to some kind of power.
Funny and devastating, like a trans Mary McCarthy, Zhou depicts with shocking precision the choices and shifts through which we work on each other and ourselves. Tender, merciless, and gracious, GIRLFRIENDS is a breath of fresh air.
Fiction. LGBTQ+ Studies. Women's Studies.
"Intimate and perceptive … comes to life in the details that fill early adulthood for a cast of memorable young queer and trans characters — escape-artist cats, house parties that are equal parts awkward and alluring, and dead-end jobs abided until real life begins.” —San Francisco Chronicle
"Tender, incisive portraits of trans womanhood, the ties that bind women to one another, and the complex relationships of youth. Simultaneously aligned with queer coming-of-age story collections of previous generations and dexterously subverting and revitalizing the genre, these seven stories offer a glimpse into the future of queer literature…this bright writer is leading the way.” —Kirkus
“GIRLFRIENDS sounds a loud bell announcing the change of guard: a generational arrival. Here is a writer who can scrap with the likes of Ann Beattie or Richard Ford but attends parties to which those boomers (or for that matter, we millennials) would never get invited.” —Torrey Peters, author of Detransition, Baby
“Beautifully rendered and utterly compelling, Emily Zhou’s stories remind me of late night phone conversations with a dear friend—a space that always feels fresh, no matter how many social triumphs and dysfunctions are nursed and examined—and where despite impossible ambiguities and distances, love strikes.” —Dodie Bellamy, author of The Letters of Mina Harker and Cunt-Ups
“Reading these pages immersed me in the slow transformative thrill of refusal. Emily Zhou knows how to arrive at an ending. Her stories capture the particular texture of those moments in which we turn away, not yet knowing what we are turning towards, but certain that whatever habits and attitudes we’ve become used to are over.” —H Felix Chau Bradley, author of Personal Attention Roleplay
“Emily Zhou is a writer that doesn't let you take sides. In these exquisite and discomforting stories characters talk at each other and rarely say what they really feel while their body language and their bodies find a way to make themselves heard. GIRLFRIENDS is untidy, hilarious, heartbreaking, and always satisfying. Zhou is a true witness. This is the fiction we've been waiting for.” —Corinne Manning, author of We Had No Rules
“Soaked in melancholy and the easy rhythm of cafe hangs, ad hoc photoshoots, and cutting remarks, these seven sharply observed stories navigate identities, fraying relationships, and the parties and mores of today's transsexual demimonde. Here Emily Zhou comes fully into her own terrifying powers: a writer to watch, just as she's watching all of us.” —Jeanne Thornton, author of Summer Fun
"Zhou’s vibrant debut collection chronicles the often-messy lives of her young trans women protagonists … [they] spring to life through dialogue, body postures, and personal style, whether it’s facial piercings, flannel, or hoop earrings. Zhou’s animated depictions of youthful angst and queer desire have much to offer.”
“A welcome arrival of a fresh and new voice in short fiction … a strong talent … [Zhou] has a knack for creating memorable scenes and her stories feel lived in.”
“In the last few years we’ve been blessed with several stellar entries into the trans woman lit canon, and GIRLFRIENDS is looking to be the best of the year. A tight short story collection that never overstays its welcome…heartily recommended.”
"GIRLFRIENDS is great…finely observed and funny and, in a way I find a bit difficult to describe, so very queer."
“I can’t believe this is Emily Zhou’s debut – it’s one of the most well-crafted short story collections I’ve had the pleasure of reading ... Zhou captures her characters in moments of change – subtle ones that are no less profound for their quietness. With its cutting wit and clear prose, GIRLFRIENDS is well worth a read.”
“Compelling … vibrant, rich … she brings seven startlingly authentic voices to life … [GIRLFRIENDS] is a phenomenal debut.”
Kirkus ReviewsFall Book Round-Up at the San Francisco ChronicleFall Book Round-Up for the Toronto StarReview @ Publishers WeeklyOctober 2023 Most Anticipated LGBTQIA+ Literature @ Lambda LiteraryThe Approval Magazine @ New York MagazineReview @ Xtra MagazineBooks We Love @ NPRReview @ Michigan Daily
Emily Zhou was born in Michigan and lives in New York City. This is her first book.