The Lit Club: An Apartment on Uranus

 

[Image description: The front cover of 'An Apartment on Uranus']

Hello bookworms! This month’s Lit Club theme is Non-Fiction Reads. For October, we decided to make a short video clip on our reviews, which you can watch here - but for all of you that would like to see The Lit Club on our website this month, here's a longer review from our member Kseniia "Kay" on 'An Apartment on Uranus'.

 

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An Apartment on Uranus

Paul B. Preciado

Paul B. Preciado’s An Apartment on Uranus is a collection of essays written for the French newspaper, Libértation, and translated by Charlotte Mandell. All of these essays are different ways for Paul to show us binary systems that we come in contact with throughout our lives. Viewed by such lens we can divide these essays into the following groups: gender, legality, cities, countries, the State, capitalism. This book ultimately talks about the “in-between” state of being, of transitioning from one place or the other, or of choosing to abandon the binary altogether.

The first essay included in Paul B. Preciado’s book immediately educates us on the concept of “Uranism” and in turn on the idea of the apartment on Uranus. “Uranism” is a concept coined in 1864 by utopian thinker Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, who used the term to argue the legislation of homosexuality. For Paul, Uranism becomes synonymous with his transition happening throughout the length of this essay collection. He uses it to move the LGBTQA+ legislation further and fight for his and others’ trans identities. 

Reading further through the collection, we get to experience the way Paul lived through the years 2013 - 1018 and see his hope for a better life diminish as the politics of the world affect him more and more. The recent history of Europe and the world is explored in vivid images on the pages of this collection and they leave no reader unscathed. Occupy, the Indignados, the manufacture by the EU and the IMF of the Greek debt crisis, the equally manufactured migration crisis, the Catalan independence movement, the election of Donald Trump. In retrospect, such things seem to be even more unavoidable as we all crush towards more and more hate.


This sense of uncertain inevitably is very much the point of Apartment on Uranus. This book makes you think, notice and reject the biases you’ve built through your life. Paul does not show us how to fight back against the system but he gives us the language to talk about it. As Virginie Despentes says in her preface to this collection: “At some point, while reading these pages, you’ll [reader] find yourself upside-down and gravity will be nothing but a distant memory. It will occur at a different point for each of you, without realising what’s happened”. So please, if you want to dive into the queer utopian project that Paul B. Preciado wants to build, grab your space suits and let’s meet in the apartment on Uranus.