In July I get to be especially shouty about the queer books we work with because it’s Pride. Without getting all trumpet-blowy, Turnaround has been championing LGBTQ literature pretty much since the company started in 1984. I was only being born in 1984, so I can’t say I was a part of it then, but I’m very glad to be a part of it now. The publishers we work with are amazing when it comes to giving queer voices a platform. And although there aren’t as many LGBTQ publishers around today as there once was, there are still plenty putting queer books out there who are all very important and very rad.
I won’t bang on about the importance of queer narratives again (I’ve already done that here, and anyway you should know it already). Instead I’ve compiled a hench list of recent and forthcoming LGBTQI+ books from our publishers. I’ve also included a few classics in there too. Just because.
NB: This is by no means a definitive list – if you’re one of our publishers and think I’ve missed something, leave a comment and I will add it! Likewise if you just like reading queer books, let us know your absolute favourites in the comments.
How To Survive a Summer by Nick White
(Blue Rider Press, £16.99, h/b)
A debut novel about a gay conversion camp in Mississippi, and a man’s reckoning with the trauma he faced there as a teen. I’m half way through this – it is excellent and about as heavy in parts as you’d expect.
Marriage of a Thousand Lies by S.J. Sindu
(Soho Press, £21.99, h/b)
This is the first LGBTQ novel from a Sri Lankan-American writer and it’s really great. It’s about a queer woman who is conveniently married to her gay best friend, until a girlfriend from adolescence comes back into her life. It’s about growing up in a culture that is extremely loving but not so accepting of queerness, and it’s about learning how to be who you are.
Coming September 2017
(The Feminist Press, £16.99, p/b )
A hugely enjoyable experimental novel that uses magick spells and inverted fairy tales to combat queer scapegoating, and the taboo of young single-motherhood. This is published by Michelle Tea’s Amethyst Editions, a new imprint from the Feminist Press. It’s so very queer and so very amazing in ways I can’t explain in a sentence. You might just have to read it. I loved it.
Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country by Chavisa Woods
(Seven Stories Press, £16.99, h/b)
A short story collection about drugs, UFOs and the dykes and weirdos who live in America’s contemporary underbelly. Honestly, who would not want to read this. I’ve only read a couple of stories so far and, as a former goth from the country, can say they are A+. It’s a very cool concept for a book, and offers a really fresh perspective on identity and youth culture today.
London Triptych by Jonathan Kemp
Published in 2010
(Myriad Editions, £7.99, p/b)
London Triptych is pretty much a queer classic already. Penned by the awesome Jonathan Kemp, it follows the lives of three men through three different eras and is a twisty tale of sex, exploitation and dependence set in London’s gay scene. It has everything you want from a gay novel really, including rent boys, models, aristocrats, artists, gangsters and sex.
Since I Laid my Burden Down by Brontez Purnell
(The Feminist Press, £15.99, p/b)
Kathleen Hanna has called this book a “cult masterpiece.” Justin Vivian Bond said it is “foul-mouthed and evil.” Michelle Tea called it “an important American story rarely, if ever told.” It’s about DeShawn, a queer from rural Alabama in the 80’s who fled to San Francisco as soon as he could. But then he is called home for a funeral and hit hard by the memories of his past, which mostly involve homophobia and violence. It sounds like a cross between Dennis Cooper and Moonlight, and I can’t wait to read it.
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
Coming in November 2017
(Akashic Books, £11.99, p/b)
I can’t wait for this one. It’s a sci-fi debut that is being compared to Octavia Butler in the ways it explores gender. It’s about genderfluidity, race, oppression and identity. And it’s set in space, on a ship called HSS Matilda that ferries the last of humanity to the Promised Land.
We Go Around in the Night and Are Consumed by Fire by Jules Grant
(Myriad Editions, £8.99, p/b)
A raw, subversive crime thriller about a lesbian gang in Manchester who are out for revenge when one of them is brutally murdered. I loved this book when I read it last year, and have done a more comprehensive write-up about it here.
(Europa Editions, £10.99, p/b)
An acclaimed novel set in a clandestine LGBTQ community in the Middle East during the Arab Spring. You’ve probably heard of Guapa already – it’s been getting tons of press in the UK because it’s that good.
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
(Melville House, £9.99, p/b)
I’m sorry I promise I will stop talking about The Argonauts one day. Anyone who has ever met me already knows how much I love this book. It’s a memoir about gender-fluidity, queer family-making and what it means to be radical and it’s just very very dear to me.
What Else is in the Teaches of Peaches
(Akashic, £24.99, h/b)
This is just a book full of essays alongside candid and also not-so-candid photos of Peaches, which is all it needs to warrant being on this list.
Columbia Road by Linda Wilkinson
(September Publishing, £12.99, p/b)
This is a fantastic literary memoir from Linda Wilkinson, who was born on the iconic Columbia Road and who went on to become a hero in the medical world. It’s full of eccentric East End characters and is incredibly rich and compelling. Wilkinson is a lesbian who lived in the East End in a time when it wasn’t that safe for queers, and this is a theme that runs throughout. As someone who lives in East London I loved this for its history of the neighbourhood, and it’s even better seen through a queer lens.
I Love This Part by Tittle Walden
(Avery Hill, £8.50, p/b)
A coming-of-age queer comic by total superstar Tillie Walden, who is slated to become one of the biggest names in the genre (she is seriously that good). I read a lot of indie comics and Tillie’s work is so spectacular that it really just gets into your head. Her artwork is unreal, and her take on growing up queer and coming out is about as honest as it gets. See also: A City Inside, On a Sunbeam (webcomic), and The End of Summer.
My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris
(Fantagraphics, £35.99, p/b)
Another one of my absolute favourite books possibly ever, MFTIM is a comic like you’ve never seen before and one of the wildest, most engrossing reading experiences you’re likely to have. Set in 1960’s Chicago, it follows a young protagonist called Karen who is attempting to solve the murder of her neighbour while coming to terms with her own sexuality as a little queer monster. It’s frankly beautiful. I wrote about it in more depth here.
The Education of Hopey Glass by Jaime Hernandez
Published in 2008
(Fantagraphics, £17.99, h/b)
I basically couldn’t not put a Love & Rockets book in here because if any book helped me while growing up queer, it was this series. Specifically the fuckyou attitude of Hopey Glass and her occasional relationship with Maggie. I seriously love these total heroes. Hopey was the queer best mate I always wanted and even though she is literally a two-dimensional carton, I owe her a lot.
Coming in December 2017
(Arsenal Pulp Press, £22.99, p/b)
From the creator of Blue is the Warmest Colour (already one of the most heartbreaking and iconic queer comics ever), Body Music is a collection of 20 vignettes that explore the drama inherent in relationships at different stages, between women, between men, between gender non-conformists, all varying in age and race. I haven’t read or seen this yet, but I am very excited to do so.
LGBT: San Fransisco by Daniel Nicoletta (foreword by Gus Van Sant)
(Reel Art Press, £40, h/b )
One of the most spectacular photographic events of the year, this beautiful book captures queer San Francisco in the era of Harvey Milk. It’s such an arresting thing to behold, and is as poignant, fierce, funny and important as any queer history book I’ve seen. It’s even made it onto billboards in Spain.
(Kehrer Verlag, £29.99, h/b)
This is a collection of photographs from an annual summer camp for trans and gender nonconforming kids and it’s just really, really joyful. It basically feels like a book of photos of how the world should be – not only because these kids are free to be themselves, but because they are surrounded by parents and siblings and friends who support them.
The LGBTQ Photobook series from the New Press
Lyudmila and Natasha by Misha Friedman (£19.99, p/b, 9781620970232) April 2015
Pride and Joy by Jurek Wajdowicz (£19.99, p/b, 9781620971857) July 2016
Delhi by Sunil Gupta & Charan Singh (£19.99, p/b, 9781620972656) November 2016
The Kids by Gabriela Herman (£18.99, p/b, 9781620973677) October 2017
Out: LGBTQ Poland by Maciek Nabardalik (£17.99, p/b, 9781620973691) January 2018
Bordered Lives by Kike Arnal (£19.99, p/b, 9781620970249) April 2015
I first saw the New Press’ excellent LGBTQI photobooks at last year’s Frankfurt Bookfair and was completely transfixed. They are really, really wonderful things. Not only are they inclusive of the whole LGBTQI community, they span political climates, countries, cultures and identities. My particular favourites are Lyudmila and Natasha, a really poignant photo-story about a lesbian couple living in Russia, and Bordered Lives, which is a collection of portraits of trans people in Mexico. Looking through them is kind of like watching a really well-made documentary.
Have a good Pride everyone. I’m off to get drunk and watch 25 Liza Minnelli drag queens dance around a ballroom.