Author Interview: Agnes Borinsky

Transgender author Agnes Borinsky deftly explores gender identity and queer romance in Sasha Masha, a heart-wrenching debut novel. We spoke with author Agnes Borinsky about the inspiration for Sasha Masha, working at an independent bookstore, and more!

“In straightforward first-person prose, debut novelist Borinsky captures the ups and downs of teenage soul-searching, struggling to define one’s gender, and coming out as trans…Sasha Masha is a well-crafted, memorable protagonist whose voice rings true and whose experiences will resonate as he learns to accept that his journey, like any questioning person’s, is an ongoing one.

Publishers Weekly

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

I feel like I’ve spent my life as a writer and a person writing myself into being. Sometimes the words I find run out ahead of where I am and show me the place where I might be headed.

I wanted to write the book I wish I’d had in high school. I wanted to write a queer coming-of-age story about the period before. Before you know what you feel. Before you have words or a context. Before you have any idea who you are. The period before coming out even appears on the horizon.

I wanted to write about learning to trust yourself and your desire. Which I something I still feel like I’m learning how to do.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

It’s definitely a book for my younger trans self. But I also feel like it’s also about the particular magic we each have inside of us, and that we can spend a lifetime bringing out into the world.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

I haven’t listened yet, because I recorded it myself. Reading it aloud for the audiobook was quite an experience—I felt like I relived the whole journey that I’d spent a long time writing in just a few hours.

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I’m a huge fan of Kacen Callender‘s work in general, but I listened to the audiobook of Felix Ever After and was totally swept away, both by the book itself and Logan Rozos’s performance.

Two other favorites are both queer memoirs, read by their authors: How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones, and A Year Without a Name by Cyrus Grace Dunham.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

Well, I work in one—Skylight Books in Los Angeles. I love the people I work with. And I like getting to be an advocate—in whatever small way—for the books I love, especially ones from smaller presses. I’ve been at Skylight for a little over a year and am just starting to appreciate the ways in which indie bookstores function—not just as places to buy books—but as community hubs.

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Header photo by Molly Hagan

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