“Book of Hats” by Dov Zeller— Transmasculine in the 1930s

Zeller, Dov. “Book of Hats”, Tiny Golem Press, 2018.

Transmasculine in the 1930s

Amos Lassen

It is without question that the LGBTQI community has come a long way recently and while we have always had representative gay and lesbian literature, we have not had a great deal from transpeople but that is also changing. Quite by across Tiny Golem press which is located right here in Massachusetts and is dedicated to publishing “books that represent queer, gender diverse and chronically ill/disabled characters and voices”. Dov Zeller is a writer at Tiny Golem and already has two books published by the press. I have already reviewed the first book, “The Right Thing to Do at the Time” and you can find that review here on this site. The second book, “Book of Hats” will be published in June.

“Book of Hats” is about hats and fashion and Ida Velikowsky. Ida’s family has a long career in fashion and they are quite respected as mavens and in fact they have their own holy book that contains what they have learned wherever they have sojourned. Ida loved studying that book with her father and its magic makes her feel good. However, Ida is a transmasculine kid at a time in history where such a thing was unheard of and certainly only spoken of in whispers. She feels guilt and even feels responsible for her parents having withdrawn into themselves. Ida finds the situation to be too much to bear and leaves home for New York, hoping to find a community where she will be accepted for who she is. Even though she does find this community, she still feels as if she is a stranger to herself and she has real issues with intimacy that remain with her wherever she is and whoever she is with. Because she is separated from her family does not help the situation. Then one night she receives a phone call from her brother who has been lost to her for a long time. She has a chance for a reunion and if this happens you will only know by reading the book.

This is a big book coming in at 450 plus pages and the story continues even after you close the covers of the book. We also have an extra bonus of questions for book clubs that can also serve as a reading guide for an individual. I have deliberately not gone deeply into the plot or written about the characters and this is deliberate yet I must mention the Jewish themes here as well. I find that when I do write a book review, I tend to give away too much plot information and I do not want to spoil the experience of a good read and Dov Zeller is a story master and a good writer.

We are so much in need of books like this and I really hope that Dov Zeller is opening the door for other to follow him through even though he is a tough act to follow.