07 November 2022
This month, we’ve chosen Torrey Peters’ Women’s Prize for Fiction longlisted Detransition, Baby for our Serpent’s Tail Book Club pick. 13th–19th November is Trans Awareness Week, so now is the perfect opportunity to read this bestselling novel and explore its uniquely trans take on love, motherhood, and those exes you just can’t quit.
Find more about the Serpent’s Tail Book Club and FAQs here.
ABOUT THE BOOK
LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2021
Shortlisted for the 2022 National Book Critics’ Circle John Leonard Prize for best first book
As heard on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row
‘A voraciously knowing, compulsively readable novel’ – Chris Kraus
‘Tremendously funny and sexy as hell’ – Juliet Jacques
‘I loved this very smart book from start to finish, with its beautifully drawn, complicated, and winning characters’ – Madeleine Miller
Reese nearly had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York, a job she didn’t hate. She’d scraped together a life previous generations of trans women could only dream of; the only thing missing was a child. Then everything fell apart and three years on Reese is still in self-destruct mode, avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.
When her ex calls to ask if she wants to be a mother, Reese finds herself intrigued. After being attacked in the street, Amy de-transitioned to become Ames, changed jobs and, thinking he was infertile, started an affair with his boss Katrina. Now Katrina’s pregnant. Could the three of them form an unconventional family – and raise the baby together?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Torrey Peters lives in Brooklyn and holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and a Masters in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth. She is the author of two novellas, Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones and The Masker.
Discover Torrey’s top reads for Trans Awareness Month over at her Bookshop.org shelf:
READING GROUP QUESTIONS
- Detransition, Baby explores motherhood through several lenses. How do Reese, Katrina and Ames’s feelings on motherhood differ and how do they converge?
- What does the novel reveal to you about the taboos of sex and gender? What roles do class and race play?
- How does Katrina’s grief from her divorce and miscarriage inform her thoughts about pregnancy? Do you see a parallel between divorce narratives and transition narratives?
- Discuss Reese ’s relationship with the cowboy. What does their relationship fulfil for one another?
- Discuss Ames’s decision to detransition. What factors played into this choice? Do you believe Ames is still a woman, even after detransition?
- Discuss the question of dissociation as described in the novel. How do the kinds of ‘bad feelings’ that trans women cope with by dissociating from their bodies and emotions relate to the kinds of ‘bad feelings’ that other women experience about their bodies or in uncomfortable sexual situations?
- How does Ames’s relationship with Katrina differ from her relationship with Reese? How are the dynamics different, and how are they similar?
- What was your perspective on the ending? What future do you envision for Reese, Katrina and Ames?