Share 11 Ground-breaking LGBTQ Novels

11 Ground-breaking LGBTQ Novels

Emma Volk is a summer intern at Touchstone, a imprint of Simon & Schuster. She studies English at Columbia University and is the Design Editor for the Columbia Daily Spectator. While classics like THE GREAT GATSBY and THE HOUSE OF MIRTH will always hold a special place in her heart and on her shelf, she also enjoys a range of modern and literary fiction.

If you’re still high on exhilaration from June’s historic Supreme Court decision, we don’t blame you. Looking for ways to keep celebrating pride in all its forms? We’ve got you covered with our list of eleven works of LGBTQ–centric fiction. As these powerful novels remind us, life isn’t all rainbows but it is certainly worth fighting for.


At Swim, Two Boys
by Jaime O'Neill

Against the backdrop of Ireland’s 1916 revolt against British rule, two boys become entangled in a tender yet ill-fated love affair.

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At Swim, Two Boys
Jaime O'Neill

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A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara

This acclaimed tragic and transcendent hymn is a masterful depiction of heartbreak, a dark examination of the tyranny of memory, and the limits of human endurance.

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A Little Life
Hanya Yanagihara

I’m not exaggerating at all when I say I cried for 700 pages of this 832-page masterpiece. I have never loved a character more deeply than I love Jude, the main character in this ode to male friendship, who is scarred and broken from an unspeakable trauma. Reading about Jude’s ever-changing relationships with his three best friends from college was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a reader—and certainly as a crier.

Read the review of A LITTLE LIFE.

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The Line of Beauty
by Alan Hollinghurst

This Man Booker Prize–winner is a sweeping novel of class and sex set in Thatcher-era London.

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The Line of Beauty
Alan Hollinghurst

This Man Booker Prize–winner is a sweeping novel of class and sex set in Thatcher-era London.

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MENTIONED IN:

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In One Person
by John Irving

In this daring portrait of a bisexual and solitary man, John Irving explores how desire, secrecy, and sexual identity affect those who defy both category and convention.

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In One Person
John Irving

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The Hours
by Michael Cunningham

This bold and deeply affecting novel chronicles the lives of three very different women as they attempt to figure out how they want to live their lives. Their stories intertwine in powerful and breathtaking ways.

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The Hours
Michael Cunningham

This Pulitzer Prize–winning novel turned Oscar-winning film is a profound story of how three generations of women were transformed by Virginia Woolf’s distinguished work Mrs. Dalloway.

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The Danish Girl
by David Ebershoff

Set in 1920s Copenhagen, this poignant novel (and now feature film starring Eddie Redmayne) tells the story of the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

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The Danish Girl
David Ebershoff

Call her Lili, and call this an Oscars shoo-in. Eddie Redmayne plays Lili Elbe, the first recorded person in history to undergo gender-reassignment surgery. If director Tom Hooper’s previous films, The King’s Speech and Les Misérables, are any indicators, this drama promises to be just as moving as its ink-and-paper counterpart.

Release date: November 27, 2015

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The Price of Salt
by Patricia Highsmith

Written in 1952, this groundbreaking novel tells of the forbidden romance between department-store clerk Therese and elegant Carol, an older woman in the midst of a difficult divorce. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara took it to the big screen last year as “Carol.”

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The Price of Salt
Patricia Highsmith

More than sixty years after it was published, this groundbreaking novel is going Hollywood with Carol. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are superbly cast as a pair of star-crossed lovers in 1950s New York whose relationship becomes fodder for blackmail. While the script was written fifteen years ago, the female-driven storyline struggled to find support. Skeptics were disproven when the premiere got a standing ovation at Cannes and was nominated for the Palme d’Or.

Release date: December 18, 2015

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The Blackwater Lightship
by Colm Tóibín

In this complex and resonant novel by the author of BROOKLYN, three generations reunite for the first time in years to care for a family member as he slowly dies of AIDS.

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The Blackwater Lightship
Colm Tóibín

Set in Ireland in the early 1990s, this is the story of Helen, her mother, and her grandmother, who have come together after a decade of estrangement to tend to Helen’s beloved brother, Declan, who is dying of AIDS. Along with Declan’s two friends, the six of them, from different generations and with different beliefs, are forced to navigate the shoals of their own histories and come to terms with each other. Shortlisted for the 2000 Man Booker Prize and written in spare, luminous prose, The Blackwater Lightship explores the nature of love and the complex emotions of a family at war with itself.

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Middlesex
by Jeffrey Eugenides

This contemporary American epic, which won the Pulitzer Prize, recounts the history of three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, centering on Calliope, who is intersex and longs to understand why she is not like other girls.

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Middlesex
Jeffrey Eugenides

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The Song of Achilles
by Madeline Miller

“I’ve always thought that a good book should be either the entry point inward, to learn about yourself, or a door outward, to open you up to new worlds. With THE SONG OF ACHILLES, Madeline Miller gave me both.”

Read the full review by Taylor Jenkins Reid here.

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The Song of Achilles
Madeline Miller

“I’ve always thought that a good book should be either the entry point inward, to learn about yourself, or a door outward, to open you up to new worlds. With THE SONG OF ACHILLES, Madeline Miller gave me both.”

Read the full review by Taylor Jenkins Reid here.

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Tipping the Velvet
by Sarah Waters

Provincial Nan King’s world is forever changed when she falls in love with a cross-dressing music-hall singer and follows her to London as her dresser and secret lover.

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Tipping the Velvet
Sarah Waters

Provincial Nan King’s world is forever changed when she falls in love with a cross-dressing music-hall singer and follows her to London as her dresser and secret lover.

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