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Upright Women Wanted
By Sarah Gailey

Discussed August 2020

Buy Upright Women Wanted from

Other Works by Sarah Gailey:

  • River of Teeth (2017) – alternate history novella; Nebula, Hugo, and Locus finalist
  • Taste of Marrow (2017) – alternate history novella
  • American Hippo (2018) – collection; includes River of Teeth, Taste of Marrow, and two related short stories
  • Magic for Liars (2019) – novel; “investigative noir” Fantasy
  • When We Were Magic (2020) – novel; YA Fantasy


  • Esther Augustus
  • Bet (Head Librarian)
  • Leda (Assistant Librarian)
  • Cye (Apprentice Librarian)
  • Amity (assassin, revolutionary)


  1. Did you enjoy reading Upright Women Wanted?  Why or why not?
  2. Is Upright Women Wanted the type of novel you expected it to be?
  3. Sarah Gailey self-identifies as non-binary and uses third-person-plural pronouns when self-referencing.  How do you think this affected her depictions of the central characters, particularly Cye?
  4. The novella features several relationships: Leda and Bet; Cye and Esther; Esther’s parents.  How do they compare?  Do each of these relationships seem realistic to you?
  5. Amity is a big-time revolutionary and political assassin who seems determined to be identified by her enemies.  For example, she refused to hide at the checkpoints and pretty much forced the “Battle of Bitter Springs”.  Why do you think that is?
  6. What’s your impression of the depiction of America’s future social-political-economic climate?  Do you find it strange that Utah has become the destination for Queer refugees?  Does the concept of “Approved Materials” sound familiar?
  7. Esther’s journey is even more psychological than it is geographic.  What does Gailey show to be the origins of Esther’s initial self-loathing?  Why does Esther change?
  8. At the end of the novella, Esther thinks: “Keep fighting…  This is only the beginning.”  Do you think this is Gailey’s central message for readers of this (and their other) works?
  9. If you have read any of Gailey’s other works, how does Upright Women Wanted compare?
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