In contemporary literature, Mary Gaitskill stands out for her unapologetically sexual and taboo themes. Her work is easily characterized as gritty and explicit; it also, however, offers nuance and heart while considering questions of how people pursue pleasure and at what cost.
Dezső Kosztolányi’s 1924 novel makes a point of subverting expectations; in it, actions as outwardly mundane as packing, eating, and walking become fertile ground to investigate the discrepancy between how things look and what they are.
Qiu was daring enough to be the first to portray queer relationships in Asian literature, and her first novel has become something of a cult classic due to its transgressive nature. Its literary merit does not, however, merely rest on its ground-breaking laurels.