30 years on, Roz Kaveney's "Tiny Pieces of Skull, or a Lesson in Manners" is finally in print and winning prizes

More than 30 years ago, Roz Kaveney showed a draft of her novel Tiny Pieces of Skull to Neil Gaiman, who was "saddened and horrified" that publishers wouldn't put her story of "trans street life and bar life in London and Chicago in the late 1970s" into print.

Finally, the book is in print and getting literary raves, having drawn praise in manuscript form from the likes of Kathy Acker. This week, the book won the LAMBDA Award for "Best Transgender Fiction."

Reason to celebrate!

Annabelle has her breasts done before decamping for the US, and some cisgender friends, unsettled by her commitment and her friendship with the admittedly wicked Natasha, read her the riot act and suggest she not leave. She replies via postcard while on the plane, sending it off from Port Authority "as almost her first American act." The first card reads in part, "I am a thoroughly bad lot, at last, and I am really enjoying it." After sending the card, she writes a postscript, which reads in its entirety: "And my tits are real. The opposite of real is imaginary, and I know what imaginary tits are like, and these are not they, not ever again." Were she in the same position, Lizzy Bennet would have said the same with no less verve and spirit.

Tiny Pieces of Skull delights in its characters and the grit and glamour of their daily lives. Looking back from this vantage point, it's both heartening to see how much more visible trans people are and striking to find the same dangers still lurking in the shadows. Despite that, perhaps to spite that, the story is still wildly entertaining, and mines a lode of untrammelled joy from every small victory its characters experience. As with Austen, the date it was written doesn't keep it from being thoroughly modern where it counts.

Tiny Pieces of Skull [Roz Kaveney/Team Angelica Publishing

'Tiny Pieces of Skull' by Roz Kaveney
[Heather Seggel/Lambda Literary Review]

Roz Kaveney won a LAMDA award two nights ago for her novel "Tiny Pieces of Skull" [Neil Gaiman]