Pride Month is drawing to a close, but it doesn’t have to be June to read, enjoy, and celebrate literary works by LGBTQ+ authors! Here’s a list of some award-winning contemporary books by LGBTQ+ writers to drop in your checkout bin.
Her Body and Other Parties (2017) by Carmen María Machado. In Her Body and Other Parties, a National Book Award finalist, Carmen María Machado traverses genre boundaries to make a strange and unforgettable debut story collection. The ways Machado explores violence against women in her stories are, by turns, experimental, queer, funny, horrific, and absurd.
Ask a Queer Chick: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life for Girls Who Dig Girls (2016) by Lindsay King Miller. Having written the advice column “Ask a Queer Chick” since 2011, Lindsay Miller brings us a compilation of her best and most interesting advice, à la Cheryl Strayed, for LGBTQ women. Ask a Queer Chick: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life for Girls Who Dig Girls is her first book.
Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family (2015) by Amy Ellis Nutt. A remarkable true story that follows the journey of a transgender girl, her identical brother, and the family that adopted them as they learn to understand, nurture, and celebrate their daughter’s transformation.
The Teahouse Fire (2006) by Ellis Avery. Set in late nineteenth century Japan, this historical novel tells the story of the Japanese tea ceremony and how Aurelia, an American orphan, enters this world. Aurelia is taken in by the Shin family and ends up falling in love with the family’s daughter, Yukako.
Juliet Takes a Breath (2016) by Gabby Rivera is a coming of age novel about Inga Muscio, a Puerto Rican girl living in the Bronx, and her journey about coming out to her family. After receiving a less-than-warm response to her sexuality, she decides to go to Portland, Oregon to find herself.
Less (2017) by Andrew Sean Greer. Arthur Less, a failed novelist about to turn fifty, skips town in order to avoid his ex-boyfriend’s wedding. Running away from his problems is the only thing he can do. When the wedding invitation arrives in the mail, Less can’t say yes – it would be too awkward – and he can’t say no – it would look like defeat. Instead of accepting the invitation, he accepts a series of invitations to half-baked literary events that take him all around the world. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.
Black Deutschland (2016) by Darryl Pinckney. Jed, a young, black, gay man fresh out of rehab, flees his city and travels to Berlin as an expatriate to escape white America. While Reagan and the AIDS crisis dominate national news back in the US, Jed explores the troubled city of his nostalgic fantasies, falling in with a range of people on the margins of Berlin society, and finding that there are some aspects of his life back in America that follow him despite the distance.
I Am J (2011) by Cris Beam. In her debut novel, Cris Beam shows us the inner life of J, a teenager on the ever-elusive path to self-acceptance. As J decides to stop hiding his true identity, he grapples with the varying degrees of approval from the people closest to him, even facing abandonment from his best friend. More than just a crucial elevation of trans voices in YA fiction, I Am J gives us a magnetic protagonist whose life is affected, yet not entirely defined, by gender and expression.
Mundo Cruel (2010) by Luis Negrón. In this debut short story collection, Luis Negrón explores some of the most transgressive and intimate aspects of gay life in Puerto Rico. In nine monologue-style stories, Negrón introduces us to the eccentric and compelling characters that comprise this small but dynamic community, and writes beautifully of its highs, lows, humor, and incredible heart.
The Tower of the Antilles (2017) by Achy Obejas. Achy Obejas’s protagonists in The Tower of the Antilles, a 2018 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Finalist, deal with what it means to leave home through a distinctly Cuban lens. As Obejas weaves themes of borders, separation, and belonging through the 10 stories of the collection, she explores complicated visions of Cuba from the perspectives of people who can no longer call it home. While The Tower of the Antilles is Obejas’s most recent work, she has been an important voice in the Latina lesbian literary community for decades.