INTERVIEW IN LAMBDA LITERARY: “occupies territory the way only the bravest literary works do”

August 13, 2015

“Quintan Ana Wikswo’s debut book, The Hope of Floating Has Carried Us this Far (Coffee House Press), occupies territory the way only the bravest literary works do: the characters and places within shirk boundaries and create new ones, exist both inside and outside the world as we know it, and redefine love and existence in an unexpected and wildly queer way.” [She says,] “Labels are essentially markers on a map. They place us in containers that are policed landmarks on that established map. They don’t, however, help us much when it’s time to enter uncharted territories—the places to which I am most drawn as an artist and human. However, strategically using labels in certain contexts can be a powerful tactical tool for visibility, for resistance, for solidarity, and advocacy.”

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE at Lambda Literary, conducted by the marvelous Sara Rauch


Many of your narrators elude labels and boundaries—not that they don’t have them, but that they don’t acknowledge them. Is that a point of power for them? Or necessity?

Primarily, I wanted to see if I could write a book in which issues of love, erotics, desire, and sex could be momentarily liberated from conventional categorizations of gender identity. Words pin us down, like specimens. I wanted to attempt an experiment in how it feels to release a few of the pins. To offer the writer, the reader, and the characters a certain freedom of movement, imagination and identification—sexually, biologically, erotically.

I intentionally and constantly kept the characters moving kinetically along a gender-fluid, sexually-fluid nexus of desire and identity—many if not most of us actually live within these shifting sands of self. At last, we are slowly changing the methodology of gender assignment at birth—and fighting for more and more opportunities to gain agency over our labels and boundaries as we move through life. There is a disorientation, terrifyingly thrilling possibility, and eventually liberation in discovering how who we are changes over time and space.

In the book, each character is essentially following a known map that is suddenly destroyed—by war, by natural disaster, by love. When the map is destroyed, we all must begin to form our own maps. Often against our own volition. Often amidst enormous disorientation and terror. But there is power in that moment of falling off the flat earth we knew. There is a chance to begin again, with agency—or power—and the possibility of new freedoms of body, mind and psyche. But it’s not tidy, and it’s a rather shamanic, abstracted, and fragmented process to gather our pieces together and determine what we shall do next.

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