Representation of Asexual Characters
Though asexual-coded characters aren’t particularly new in fiction, the explicit and deliberate inclusion and depiction of asexual characters is comparatively recent, only rising to larger visibility in the past few years with the success of Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway and Kathryn Ormsbee’s Tash Hearts Tolstoy in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Still, if you don’t already know what to look for, finding asexuality depicted in fiction often proves difficult, and finding it depicted positively even more so.
This list aims to offer a glimpse at the broad spectrum of asexuality rather than the narrow definitions and depictions that I usually see in recommendations lists. Asexuality is a spectrum and, as such, I tried to present readers with a spectrum of not only different asexual experiences, but also of genre. It is my sincere hope that this list will allow asexual or questioning readers to start finding books that capture even a fraction of the way they experience the world, whether that’s as an alloromantic asexual or as an aromantic asexual.
The books on this list are predominantly ownvoices. To my knowledge only Quicksilver and Tash Hearts Tolstoy are written by allosexual authors. None of the books on this list fall into the trap of presenting asexuality in a way that suggests there is One True Way to experience asexuality and they are far from the only books featuring asexual characters out there.
With a couple of exceptions, I’ve also excluded well-known examples of asexuality as much as possible to highlight the variety of representation that’s available once you know where to look. Due to their ease of availability, I have also largely stuck to books likely to be purchased by libraries without patrons requesting them specifically so that teen readers who need them can access them as quickly as possible.
Like everyone, asexual readers deserve to see themselves as active members of our communities, as people who are allowed to set boundaries in their relationships and have those boundaries respected. They deserve stories where they aren’t told that they’re cold and uncaring, likened to robots or linked to death or exile. They deserve stories where asexual characters are shown to feel deeply, to have passion and drive, to have strong and meaningful relationships with the people they care about. They deserve to see themselves as accepted, as real, as whole.
It is my sincere hope that this list will help readers find books that give them that. To all queer readers out there: you deserve to see yourself in fiction. You are enough. You matter.
– Lynn O’Connacht