Bad Habit: A Novel (Hardcover)

Bad Habit: A Novel By Alana S. Portero, Mara Faye Lethem (Translated by) Cover Image
By Alana S. Portero, Mara Faye Lethem (Translated by)
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"I urge you, read Alana S. Portero's Bad Habit to fully grasp the degree of adversity, pain, and danger endured by those growing-up trans." –Pedro Almodóvar

"Raw, unapologetic, and ingenious in its expressions of pain, Bad Habit bravely bares the scars of being queer in an unaccepting society while illuminating unexpected pockets of hope and tenderness." –Booklist

Combining the raw realism and vulnerability of Shuggie Bain and Detransition, Baby with the poignant sensibility of Pedro Almodóvar, a staggering coming-of-age novel deeply rooted in the struggles of a trans woman growing up in Madrid.

Anchored by the voice of its sweet and defiant narrator, Bad Habit casts a trans woman’s trying youth as a heartfelt odyssey. Raised in an animated yet impoverished blue-collar neighborhood, Alana S. Portero’s protagonist struggles to find her place. As the city around her changes–the heroin epidemic that ravages Madrid through the '80s and '90s, rallying calls of worker solidarity and the pulsing beat of the city's night scene– she becomes increasingly detached from the world and, most crucially, herself.

Yet through her eyes, the streets and people of Madrid are illuminated by a poetry absent from everyday life. And by this guiding light she begins to plot her own course, from Margarita, the local trans woman whose unspoken kinship both captivates and frightens her, to Jay, her first love and source of an inevitable heartbreak, to the irrepressible diva Caramel. As she forges ahead, she sets her compass to a personal north star: endeavoring to find herself. But with each step forward, she is confronted by a violence she doesn’t yet know how to counter; in this exciting, often terrifying, world each choice is truly a matter of life and death.   

With her first novel, Alana S. Portero strikingly underscores the ties between gender and class, the search for identity, and the power of sisterhood and community. Gentle but blistering, Bad Habit is a mesmerizing story of self-realization that speaks to the outsider in all of us.  

Translated from the Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem

About the Author

Alana S. Portero is a Medieval historian, writer, playwright, LGTB activist, and co-founder of the theatre company STRIGA. Her writings on feminism and LGTBQ activism from the perspective of a trans woman have been featured in a number of international publications, including Agente provocador,, El Salto Diario, SModa, and Vogue. She lives in Madrid.

Mara Faye Lethem wears many hats, one of which is that of a translator of fiction from Spanish and Catalan. She has recently translated works by Albert Sánchez Piñol, Juan Marsé, and Pablo De Santis. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she now lives in Barcelona.

Praise For…

"I urge you, read Alana S. Portero's Bad Habit to fully grasp the degree of adversity, pain, and danger endured by those growing-up trans." — Pedro Almodóvar, Two-time Academy Award–Winning Filmmaker

"Alana S. Portero's Bad Habit is a tender, evocative coming of age story about learning to live authentically. Full of loving affection and quiet betrayals, this novel captures the challenges inherent to finding autonomy and queer community. Bad Habit is a powerful book about growing up trans." — Isle McElroy, author of People Collide

“At once brutal, tender, and vulnerable, Bad Habit is told in gorgeous, poignant vignettes that paint a portrait of a trans girl's coming of age in working-class Madrid. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. Let's be real—I would follow Portero's charming and resilient narrator anywhere. There is violence, yes, but there is also beauty, warmth, and care. Full of unforgettable characters, mothers, and connections, Portero has written a masterpiece, an ode, a life-giving story of trans affirmation. This book is everything and more.”  — Marisa Crane, author of I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself  

"I felt Bad Habit in the throat like a faraway song I caught myself humming. Portero’s elegant storytelling catches a celestial light, illuminating the body in ways beyond language." — Eloghosa Osunde, author of Vagabonds!

"A novel that intertwines LGTBIQ+ activism with humour, beauty with pain, the dissociation of the interior with exterior world ... The most talked-about debut of the year." — Time Out Spain

"Such a beautiful novel, also cruel and full of redemption, about the journey we take to become who we truly are, and about the people that come with us to fill in the blanks." — Elena Medel, Author of The Wonders

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063336124
ISBN-10: 006333612X
Publisher: HarperVia
Publication Date: April 23rd, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English