Set against a backdrop of 1950s New York, this experimental novel follows an ensemble cast of all singing, all dancing butch dykes and Yiddish anarchists through eternal Friday nights, around the table and at the bar.



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In one of many bars, Frankie Gold sings while Sammy Silver plays piano after a day job at the anarchist newspaper. The Butch Piano Players Union meets in the corner next to the jukebox. Laur smokes on the back steps, sweaty thigh to thigh with Vic. Frankie’s childhood sweetheart Lily turns up at yet another bar to see a second Sammy play every Friday night. And before all that, there’s always dinner at Marg’s. Fabulated out of oral histories, anthologies, as well as the fiction of the butch-femme bar scene and Yiddish anarchist tradition, Greasepaint is a rollicking whirlwind of music and politics—the currents of community embodied and held inside the bar.


Greasepaint stages a butch past that feels like it should be a future; and a version of New York that should be a galaxy. What’s more, the novel lends itself to playing ‘pick your favourite character’ with your gay friends like it were a boy band; and yet, it sings better. Levene is a talent to reckon with.

-Isabel Waidner
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ISBN: 9781643622132
Paperback, 172 pages, 5.125 x 8 inches
Publication Date: February 13, 2024

“a joyously eccentric portrait of a community of lesbian musicians in fifties NYC, often told in long stretches of quickfire conversation.”

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Hannah Levene lives in Norfolk, UK. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Roehampton University, focusing on the composition of new butch literature. Greasepaint is her debut novel …

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