About the author
Lee Lai is an Australian cartoonist living in Tio’tia:ke (colonially known as Montreal, Quebec). She has been featured in The New Yorker, McSweeneys, and The New York Times, and was recently named one of the 5 under 35 honorees by the National Book Foundation. Her first graphic novel is Stone Fruit. Mostly she writes about people eating, talking, and making questionable decisions.
About the book
Bron and Ray are a queer couple who enjoy their role as the fun weirdo aunties to Ray’s niece, six-year-old Nessie. Their playdates are little oases of wildness, joy, and ease in all three of their lives, which ping-pong between familial tensions and deep-seated personal stumbling blocks. As their emotional intimacy erodes, Ray and Bron isolate from each other and attempt to repair their broken family ties — Ray with her overworked, resentful single-mother sister and Bron with her religious teenage sister who doesn’t fully grasp the complexities of gender identity. Taking a leap of faith, each opens up and learns they have more in common with their siblings than they ever knew.
At turns joyful and heartbreaking, Stone Fruit reveals through intimately naturalistic dialog and blue-hued watercolor how painful it can be to truly become vulnerable to your loved ones — and how fulfilling it is to be finally understood for who you are. Lee Lai is one of the most exciting new voices to break into the comics medium and she has created one of the truly sophisticated graphic novel debuts in recent memory.
Lee Lai’s Stone Fruit is a moving graphic novel in which queer couple, Bron and Ray, find themselves at a tense crossroads in their relationship. Mental health struggles and wounds inflicted in their families of origin have brought their relationship to a heartbreaking impasse. But amidst this turmoil, their days spent taking care of Ray’s niece, Nessie, are idyllic and imaginative and suggest a future worth moving towards. Throughout scenes rendered in Lai’s signature art style – simple lines and a muted blue and grey colour palette – and featuring spare, perfectly articulated dialogue, Bron and Ray go looking for answers about how to heal these past hurts in order to show up better for each other as a couple. Stone Fruit beautifully reflects a tender domesticity that is affecting and atmospheric.
This is a deceptively simple depiction of the many various and complicated versions of familial love and care we can experience in our lives. Stone Fruit is a work that is honest, unassuming, and powerfully told.
“Lai is attuned to the small, non-verbal ways we relate or fail to relate to one another.” – Eloise Grills, Meanjin
“Transformation — the painful, non-linear, ongoing process of moving between worlds — is at the heart of the story.” – Laura Sackton, Chicago Review of Books
“I always love a book that questions parenting and motherhood, and explores the different shapes and forms they can come in.” – Arizona O’Neill, Montreal Review of Books
Read an extract of Lee Lai’s Stone Fruit in The New Yorker
Read ‘5 Questions with Lee Lai’ via Liminal Mag
Read ‘Comic Artist Lee Lai Draws What It’s Really Like to Fall in Love’ by Jonno Revanche in Vice Magazine