Each June, Pride Month is recognized to commemorate the Stonewall Riots that occurred in 1969 and honor the immense impact members of the LGBTQ community have had on our society. In honor of this history, we wanted to bring visibility to the literary works of some inspiring LGBTQ authors to remind our readers of the broad range of talent within the literary world and celebrate our freedom to be ourselves. Here are eight books by LGTBQ authors to applaud this month.
In this award-winning French novel, author Phillipe Besson explores an affair between two teenage boys in 1984 France. Set in Bordeaux, Philippe meets a young man who bears a striking resemblance to his first love. Following this happenstance, Phillipe embarks on a detailed recount of a relationship he’s never forgotten – a hidden affair with a gorgeous boy named Thomas during their last year of high school. Without ever acknowledging they know each other in the halls, they steal time to meet in secret, carrying on a passionate, world-altering affair.
“I remember the movement of his hips pressing against the pinball machine. This one sentence had me in its grip until the end. Two young men find each other, always fearing that life itself might be the villain standing in their way. A stunning and heart-gripping tale.” —André Aciman, author of Call Me by Your Name
A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice
The critically acclaimed, internationally beloved novel by Philippe Besson—“this year’s Call Me By Your Name” (Vulture) with raves in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Vanity Fair, Vogue, O, The Oprah Magazine, and Out—about an affair between two teenage boys in 1984 France, translated with subtle beauty and haunting lyricism by the iconic and internationally acclaimed actress and writer Molly Ringwald.
In this “sexy, pure, and radiant story” (Out), Philippe chances upon a young man outside a hotel in Bordeaux who bears a striking resemblance to his first love. What follows is a look back at the relationship he’s never forgotten, a hidden affair with a boy named Thomas during their last year of high school. Thomas is the son of a farmer; Philippe the son of a school principal. At school, they don’t acknowledge each other. But they steal time to meet in secret, carrying on a passionate, world-altering affair.
Despite the intensity of their attraction, from the beginning Thomas knows how it will end: “Because you will leave and we will stay,” he says. Philippe becomes a writer and travels the world, though as this “tender, sensuous novel” (The New York Times Book Review) shows, he never lets go of the relationship that shaped him, and every story he’s ever told.
“Beautifully translated by Ringwald” (NPR), this is “Philippe Besson’s book of a lifetime...an elegiac tale of first, hidden love” (The New Yorker).
Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu. Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.
Octavia E. Butler meets Marvel’s Black Panther in The Deep, a story rich with Afrofuturism, folklore, and the power of memory, inspired by the Hugo Award–nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’s rap group Clipping.
Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.
Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.
Yetu will learn more than she ever expected about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.
The Deep is “a tour de force reorientation of the storytelling gaze…a superb, multilayered work,” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) and a vividly original and uniquely affecting story inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping.
Saeed Jones’s coming-of-age memoir was recently announced as a 2020 Lambda Literary Award in Gay Memoir/Biography. HOW WE FIGHT FOR OUR LIVES draws readers into Jones’s boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. This memoir builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.
WINNER OF THE 2019 KIRKUS PRIZE IN NONFICTION
WINNER OF THE 2020 STONEWALL BOOK AWARD-ISRAEL FISHMAN NONFICTION AWARD
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES’S 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2019
One of the best books of the year as selected by The Washington Post; NPR; Time; The New Yorker; O, The Oprah Magazine; Harper’s Bazaar; Elle; Kirkus Reviews; Publishers Weekly; BuzzFeed; Goodreads; School Library Journal; and many more.
“A moving, bracingly honest memoir that reads like fevered poetry.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Jones’s voice and sensibility are so distinct that he turns one of the oldest of literary genres inside out and upside down.” —NPR’S Fresh Air
“People don’t just happen,” writes Saeed Jones. “We sacrifice former versions of ourselves. We sacrifice the people who dared to raise us. The ‘I’ it seems doesn’t exist until we are able to say, ‘I am no longer yours.’”
Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.
An award-winning poet, Jones has developed a style that’s as beautiful as it is powerful—a voice that’s by turns a river, a blues, and a nightscape set ablaze. How We Fight for Our Lives is a one-of-a-kind memoir and a book that cements Saeed Jones as an essential writer for our time.
Steven Rowley’s novel, LILY AND THE OCTOPUS tells the story of a man and his touching relationship with his canine companion. Ted, a single and struggling writer, has an inseparable bond with his elderly dachshund named Lily. So, when Ted gets the news that Lily’s health is failing, he sets the two of them on a journey to find a cure. Equal parts funny and heartbreaking, this novel uses a slight amount of magical realism to explore the joys of love and the pains of letting things go.
Ted and his elderly dachshund are at the center of this story of steadfast companionship, loss, and longing that will break your heart and put it back together again. The two share a comfortable life spent chatting about boys, playing board games, and ordering pizza just so Lily can bark at the delivery boy. But then the Octopus arrives and their simple little world begins to change. By turns hilarious and poignant, LILY AND THE OCTOPUS is a book you’ll never stop talking (and crying) about.
Rita Mae Brown’s RUBYFRUIT JUNGLE is a remarkable coming-of-age novel that explores the concept of being true to yourself, even when the odds are stacked against you. Molly Bolt is the adoptive daughter of a dirt-poor Southern couple. Bolding paving her own life path with startling beauty and crackling wit, Molly finds that women are drawn to her wherever she goes—and she refuses to apologize for loving them back.
In this landmark coming-of-age novel, Molly Bolt is startlingly beautiful and possesses a crackling wit. Forging her own path in life and intent on being true to herself, Molly finds that women are drawn to her wherever she goes—and she refuses to apologize for loving them back.
Charlie Jane Anders, a transgender American author, wrote the award-winning novel, ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY. This story follows childhood friends Patricia Delfine, a witch, and Laurence Armstead, a mad scientist, who previously parted ways under mysterious circumstances. But as adults, they both wind up in near-future San Francisco, where Laurence is an engineering genius and Patricia works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s ever-growing ailments. Transcending bounds between fantasy, magical realism, and dystopian societies, ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY tells the story of Patricia and Laurence’s life, and how they are inevitably about the collide – either to save the world or end it.
Akwaeke Emezi’s identity of being a Nigerian, black, and a non-binary transgender human being interweave in her novel, FRESHWATER. This novel centers around a young Nigerian woman, Ada, who develops separate selves within her as a result of being born "with one foot on the other side." When Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, the group of selves within her grows in power and agency. Ada fades into the background of her own mind as these selves take control, spiraling Ada’s life into a dark and dangerous direction.
Author Benjamin Alire Sáenz did not come out as gay until he was in his 50s. Exploring LGBTQ themes within his writing was his way of dealing with some of his long-rooted issues with his sexuality. His novel, ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE is a tender and moving novel is about Aristotle, an angry teen with a brother in prison, who meets Dante, a know-it-all with an unusual way of looking at the world, at the local swimming pool. They don’t have much in common, but the two loners end up spending a lot of time together and form an intimate, life-changing connection.
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison and Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common, but as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime.
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