Synopses & Reviews
Finalist for the 2021 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Nonfiction
“Talusan sails past the conventions of trans and immigrant memoirs.” — The New York Times Book Review
“A ball of light hurled into the dark undertow of migration and survival.” — Ocean Vuong, author of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
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.
“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)
“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
“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
About the Author
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.