Tiny Pieces of Skull or, a Lesson in Manners

In the 1980s, poet and activist Roz Kaveney wrote a novel, Tiny Pieces of Skull, about trans street life and bar life in London and Chicago in the late 1970s. Much admired in manuscript by writers from Kathy Acker to Neil Gaiman, it has never seen print until now... Funny and terrifying by turns, and full of glimpses of other lives, it is the story of how beautiful Natasha persuades clever Annabelle to run away from her life and have adventures, more adventures than either of them quite meant her to have...

Winner Lambda Best Trans Novel Award 2016!

'Deserves to be recognised as a seminal fictional work on transgender identity and transphobia... hilarious and chilling...'

Times Literary Supplement, 24th July 2015

Tiny Pieces is fucking brilliant. ‘A certain classic, a definitive portrait of trans outside the niceties of middle class daydreams. Brava, sister mine.’

Kate Bornstein, writer and activist

‘Even now I find it hard to put into words quite how moving and marvellous I found it. It's an astonishing, troubling book; scalpel-sharp; brittle; bleak and brave. I feel sure it will upset a great number of people in all the right ways. In fact, I hope it does: literature should be a call to arms, not a sleeping-pill. Congratulations on bringing this story out of the dark.’

Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat and The Gospel of Loki

‘From cream cakes to Meatball Subs, from David Bowie to Poulenc, Roz Kaveney brings us classic noir, high and low, with the most witty of genre shattering detectives. Great one-liners, dangerous readheads, city streets careening through intrigue,r omance and the universal search for an explanation.'

Sarah Schulman

'Well-spoken cream-cake loving Annabelle meets beautiful but unreliable American Natasha and, in a memorably queasy scene, is soon convinced to get spur-of-the-moment breast implants under a local anaesthetic. Then she’s leaving London to visit Natasha in Chicago, where she discovers she must fend for herself, working on the bar scene alongside a supporting cast which includes neighbor Alexandra and her python Rudolph, bottle-blonde Nazi sadist Inge, numerous johns and dodgy cop Detective Bunckley, whose appearances carry a threatening edge. “Most of it happened, more or less,” notes Kaveney of events in this whip-smart novel, a portrait of late 70s trans street-life written in 1988 but never before published. How great that it has been now. It’s a story of friendships, flawed and genuine, and of self-determination and resilience, but one which doesn’t dip into sentimentality; Kaveney has a superb gift for dialogue, with her main characters wonderfully adept at trading cutting put-downs, charmingly delivered under a polite veneer. A sharp delight.’

Diva magazine

'Tiny Pieces of Skull delights in its characters and the grit and glamour of their daily lives. Looking back from this vantage point, it’s both heartening to see how much more visible trans people are and striking to find the same dangers still lurking in the shadows. Despite that, perhaps to spite that, the story is still wildly entertaining, and mines a lode of untrammelled joy from every small victory its characters experience.'

Heather Seggel, Lambda Literary

Read an incisive Huffington Post interview with Roz here.

Read an interview with Roz by Cheryl Morgan here.

Read a great review of a reading by Roz at Daunt Books in Marylebone by Sasha Garwood here


Tiny Pieces of Skull by Roz Kaveney