Intermediate queer arab-french YA: L’armée du salut

People seem to love this book but myself I found it dull. A book involving incestuous crushes and public sex– dull! Clearly your experience may vary.

On the plus side, this novella is under 150 pages, a story about a gay muslim protagonist with a happy (enough) ending, and a good way to learn some sex slang and a bit about life in Morocco in the 1990s. My favourite parts were the discussions about speaking French versus other languages, and where all the multilingual characters learned French. Morocco, Switzerland, etc. Finding francophone authors is a fast way to learn some geography and history– which regions have French-speakers and why?

Intermediate french queer graphic novel: Le Bleu Est Une Couleur Chaude

Image from 'Le bleu est une couleur chaude

I felt like a genius when I got this out of the library. What better way to practice reading in french than a picture book? That is mostly true, although I was surprised by how difficult I found the hand-lettering (and cursive!).

This story leaves me pretty meh– the pointless tragic ending, the characters who are probably intended to be relatable but to me just seem generic (at one point they discuss both loving “that book” but don’t say what it is), and the unhealthy tale of a high school kid falling in lifelong love with the only lesbian she’s ever met.

However, it’s a great beginner-intermediate french reading project. It is short, easy to follow because of the pictures, and full of things I wanted to learn, like dialog, slang, sex words, and queer activism vocabulary. You could follow it up by watching the movie in french with french subtitles, for listening practice.

As a difficulty reference, I tackled this before any Harry Potter books, using only the power of childhood fluency that I had neglected for 25 years, and a translation app.