A meditation on southwestern terrains, intergenerational queer dynamics, and surveilled brown artists that crosses physical and conceptual borders.
Part butch memoir, part ekphrastic travel diary, part queer family tree, Raquel Gutiérrez’s debut essay collection, Brown Neon, gleans insight from the sediment of land and relationships. For Gutiérrez, terrain is essential to understanding that no story, no matter how personal, is separate from the space where it unfolds. Whether contemplating the value of adobe as both vernacular architecture and commodified art object, highlighting the feminist wounding and transphobic apparitions haunting the multigenerational lesbian social fabric, or recalling a failed romance, Gutiérrez traverses complex questions of gender, class, identity, and citizenship with curiosity and nuance.
Vogue, "12 New Queer Books to Read This Summer"
The Millions, “Most Anticipated”
TODAY, “18 Most Anticipated Latino Books of 2022”
Electric Literature, “Most Anticipated LGBTQ Books of 2022”
Latinx in Publishing, “Most Anticipated 2022 Latinx Books”
Bustle, “Most Anticipated Books of 2022”
“Singular and inimitable . . . focusing much of the collection on the physical land that has alternately sustained, commodified, and criminalized so many modes of being.” —Emma Specter, Vogue
“Poet Gutiérrez meditates on geography, gender, creativity, and love in her lyrical debut collection. . . . Written with energy, critical acumen, and raw emotion, this is as memorable as it is original.” —Publishers Weekly
“How do we map the terrains of love, land, and art? Gutiérrez engages these questions through stories of the borders that bind and those that break. . . . A bold and brave debut collection from an intriguing new literary voice. A probing, tender reckoning with space, place, and identity.” —Kirkus
“While art undergirds much of the collection, this is largely an exploration of Donna Haraway’s notion of ‘oddkin’—cultural/social/emotional family through, in Gutiérrez’s case, queerness, art-making, Latinx identity, and the Southwest. The relationships she fosters and interrogates, as carefully as she does physical structures and art production, are what drive these essays.” —Diana Arterian, Literary Hub
“Ranging from memoir to criticism to travelogue. . . . By exploring the places where stories are set, Gutiérrez reveals more about who’s in them.” —Nick Moran, The Millions
“A tribute to the power of art to provoke and challenge its viewers, the essays of Brown Neon are timely and affecting as they consider the nuances of queer Latinx life in the American Southwest.” —Rebecca Hussey, Foreword Reviews
“Thoughtfully tackles questions of gender, sexuality, and performance.” —K.W. Colyard, Bustle
“Brown Neon is a work of Latinx mysticism. With beauty, and unmistakable care for person and place, Raquel Gutiérrez maps life’s butchest, sweetest, and saddest mysteries.” —Myriam Gurba
“Brown Neon emerges as an instant foundational text, and Raquel Gutiérrez as a leading critic, witness, and visionary not only of the queer, brown Southwest, but our current American nightmare. Gutiérrez’s essays illuminate an otherwise ignored history of pivotal brown aesthetics that have changed the way some of us create and approach art. Beyond essential.” —Fernando A. Flores
“Raquel Gutiérrez has crafted, in these inspired and astonishing essays, an unforgettably affecting voice that recounts parables of brown life in the arts. In narratives that describe the intergenerational landscape of queer cultural memory and self-ecologies of Latinx innovation within the current U.S. political economy, Gutiérrez dazzles. Sentences here excite and punctuate as they convey the historical losses and embodied gains comprising all those energies that animate artists, activists, and storytellers alike to ‘sing in similar and simultaneous registers of scarcity and plethora.’” —Roberto Tejada