The Turnaround Blog

2019 Queer Lit Preview

Last year was a pretty good year for queer lit. Every month we saw LGBTQ titles published across every genre – fiction, biographies, history, comics, poetry. Even art and photography. Newspapers wrote about diverse representation in books. Queer authors were included on more panels and interviewed more online. There’s still a way to go, but it’s been a real thrill to see the number of LGBTQ books being published slowly rise. Looking ahead to 2019 is just as exciting, so without further ado, here’s what our publishers will be releasing into the world over the coming months…


January

Wanderer by Sarah Leon
(9781590519257, Other Press, p/b, £13.99)

Hermin, a composer and instructor, leads a secluded life near the Bourbonnais Mountains in France, composing a homage to Schubert. On a bitter January night, this studious peace is broken when his former pupil, Lenny, a piano prodigy, mysteriously knocks at his door. The two men must confront the ghosts of their past, somewhere between musical harmony, erotic tension, and revelation. Wanderer, echoing Schubert’s recurring theme, is a novel of rare delicacy, a twilight adagio, a Winterreise, and a subtle ode to German Romanticism.

Synchro Boy by Shannon McFerran
(9781551527444, Arsenal Pulp Press, p/b, £12.99)

Sixteen-year-old Bart Lively desperately wants to feel comfortable in his own skin. The macho culture of his swim club is wearing him down and being a jock doesn’t mean he isn’t the target of gay jokes. Drawn to the art and athleticism of synchronised swimming, he jumps at the chance to become the first boy on the team, even if it means others start questioning his masculinity even more. All the while he starts falling for his teammate Erika, and falling in lust with her synchro rival Chelsea … not to mention a cute boy in the diving club, leading him to question what it means to be a boy.


March

The Summer of Dead Birds by Ali Liebegott
(9781936932504, Feminist Press, p/b, £15.99)

Lesbian relationships rarely survive the death of a parent, Ali Liebegott’s therapist tells her in the pages of this novel-in-verse. Despite Ali’s defiance, the prediction comes true. In Summer of Dead Birds, she explores the toll of mental illness and grief on romantic partnerships – fragile things anyway – through a lesbian lens. In this chronicle of mourning and survival, Ali Liebegott wallows in loneliness and over-assigns meaning to everyday circumstance, clinging to an aging dog and obsessing over dead birds. But these unpretentious vignettes are laced with compassion, as she learns to balance the sting of death with the tender strangeness of life.

“A fierce, funny, agonized, cracked-open aria in homage to the presence and passing of fiercely loved things.” —Maggie Nelson

“Sweet and so sad, and the writing’s perfect.” —Eileen Myles

True Trans Bike Rebel edited by  Lydia Rogue & Trista Vercher 
(9781621060017, Microcosm, p/b, £8.99)

The 15th issue of Taking the Lane feminist bike zine. This issue is dedicated to trans, genderqueer, intersex and agender folks talking about the power of bicycling in their lives. Inside, a woman sets off on a long distance tour across the desert, where she finds the courage she needs to continue back at home; the executive director of a major advocacy organisation walks us through his coming-out process and the precedent it set; a young person survives school to find solace and identity in nature; contemplating the parallels of building a bicycle and crafting one’s own body, and more!

Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve
(9781609809010, Seven Stories Press, h/b, £14.99)

Genderqueer fourteen-year-old Z Chilworth has to adjust quickly to their new status as a zombie after waking from death from a car crash that killed their parents and sisters. Always a talented witch, Z now can barely perform magic and is rapidly decaying. Faced with rejection from their remaining family members and old friends, Z moves in with Mrs. Dunnigan, an elderly witch and befriends Aysel, a loud would-be-goth classmate who is, like Z, a loner. As Z struggles to find a way to repair the broken magical seal holding their body together, Aysel fears that her classmates will discover her status as an unregistered werewolf. When a local psychiatrist is murdered by what seems to be werewolves, the town of Salem, Oregon, becomes even more hostile to ‘monsters,’ and Z and Aysel are driven together in an attempt to survive a place where most people wish that neither of them existed.


April

77 by Guillermo Saccomanno
(9781940953892, Open Letter, p/b, £11.99)

In the darkest days of the Videla dictatorship, Gomez, a gay high-school literature teacher, tries to keep a low profile as, one-by-one his friends and students begin to disappear. His life gradually becomes a paranoid, insomniac nightmare that not even his nightly forays into bars and bathhouses in search of anonymous sex can relieve. Things get even more complicated when he takes in two dissidents, putting his life at risk. Told mostly in flashbacks thirty years later, 77 is rich in descriptive detail, dream sequences, and even elements of the occult, which build into a haunting novel about absence and the clash between morality and survival when living under a dictatorship.


May

Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country by Chavisa Woods
(9781609809157, Seven Stories Press, p/b, £12.99)

The stories in Things to Do When You’re Goth in the Country bring the underbelly of America into vivid focus. The strange characters in this collection include a zombie who secretly resides in a local cemetery; a queer teen goth who is facing ostracism from her small-town evangelical church; a Brooklyn artist who learns more about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict than he ever wanted to; and the UFOs that trouble a group of friends in the rural Midwest.

Ship It by Britta Lundin
(9781368021159, Freeform, p/b, £8.99)

When Claire meets her hero at Comic-Con, actor Forest from the show Demon Heart, it’s incredible. That is, until he laughs off her question about Forest’s character being gay. Claire, whose super-popular fanfic is based on the romance between him and his frenemy, is devastated. But when the disastrous Q&A video goes viral the producers hire Claire to join them on the rest of the tour to help heal their image with the LGBTQ+ community. How far will Claire go to make her ship canon? And will Claire ever get the guts to make a move on Tess, the super cute fanartist she keeps running into?

Double Melancholy by C.E. Gatchalian
(9781551527536, Arsenal Pulp Press, p/b £14.99)

In this beguiling book a queer Filipino-Canadian boy finds solace, inspiration, and a “syllabus for living” in art, works of literature and music, from the children’s literary classic Anne of Green Gables to the music of Maria Callas. But their contribution to his intellectual, emotional, and spiritual edification belies the fact that they were largely heteronormative and white, making him invisible as a queer person of colour. Part memoir, part cultural commentary, Double Melancholy is a passionate lover letter to art and the depths to which it both enriches and colonises us.

Original Plumbing edited by Amos Mac & Rocco Kayiatos
(9781936932597, Feminist Press, p/b, £30.99)

Independently published from 2009 to 2018, Original Plumbing grew from a Bay Area zine to a nationally acclaimed print quarterly dedicated to trans men. For nearly ten years, the magazine was the premier resource focused on their experiences, celebrations, and imaginations, featuring writing on both playful and political topics like selfies, bathrooms, and safer sex; interviews with queer icons such as Janet Mock, Silas Howard, Margaret Cho, and Ian Harvie; and visual art, photography, and short fiction.


June

All City by Alex DiFrancesco 
(9781609809393, Seven Stories Press, p/b, £12.99)

In a near-future New York City in which both global warming and a tremendous economic divide are making the city unlivable for many, a huge superstorm hits leaving behind only those who had nowhere else to go and no way to get out. Here Makayla, a 24-year-old woman who works at the convenience store chain that’s overtaken the city; Jesse, an 18-year-old genderqueer anarchist punk who lives in an abandoned IRT station in the Bronx; and an unnamed, mysterious street artist who paints the suffering of those left behind into the world’s consciousness, all struggle to rebuild their lives in a city that has left them for dead. When they carve out a small space of reprieve in an abandoned luxury condo, it is only a matter of time before those who own the building come back to claim what is theirs.

Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall
(9780440001331, Ace, p/b, £12.99)

Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Miss Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation. When Miss Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham finds himself drawn into a mystery including criminals, pirates, vampires, mad gods, and a shark. 

Disintegrate/Dissociate by Arielle Twist
(9781551527598, Arsenal Pulp Press, p/b, £12.99)

In her powerful debut collection of poetry, Arielle Twist unravels the complexities of human relationships after death and metamorphosis. In these spare yet powerful poems, she explores, with both rage and tenderness, the parameters of grief, trauma, displacement, and identity. Weaving together a past made murky by uncertainty and a present which exists in multitudes, Twist poetically navigates through what it means to be an Indigenous trans woman, discovering the possibilities of a hopeful future and a transcendent, beautiful path to regaining softness.

Toungebreaker by Leah Lakshimi Piepzna-Samarasinha
(9781551527574, Arsenal Pulp Press, p/b, £13.99)

In her fourth collection of poetry, Lambda Literary Award-winning poet and writer Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha continues her excavation of working-class queer brown femme survivorhood and desire. Tonguebreaker is about surviving the unsurvivable: living through hate crimes, the suicides of queer kin, and the rise of fascism while falling in love and walking through your beloved’s Queens neighbourhood. Building on her groundbreaking work in Bodymap, Tonguebreaker is an unmitigated force of disabled queer-of-colour nature, narrating disabled femme-of-colour moments.

Death Threat by Vivek Shraya & Ness Lee
(9781551527505, Arsenal Pulp Press, h/b £12.99)

In the fall of 2017, acclaimed writer and musician Vivek Shraya began receiving vivid and disturbing transphobic hate mail from a stranger. Acclaimed artist Ness Lee brings these letters and Shraya’s responses to them to startling life in Death Threat, a graphic novel that, by its existence, becomes a compelling act of resistance. Using satire and surrealism, Death Threat is an unflinching portrayal of violent harassment from the perspective of both the perpetrator and the target, illustrating the dangers of online accessibility, and the ease with which vitriolic hatred can be spread digitally.

All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil
(9781641290340, Soho Press, h/b, £14.99)

As a runaway in San Francisco, seventeen-year-old Xochi never expected to encounter the precocious preteen Pallas, or to fall into a position as the girl’s governess. Soon, Xochi has taken up residence at the sprawling Victorian mansion belonging to Pallas’ family, the glamorous rock band Lady Frieda. For the first time, she feels like she may have a place she belongs. Then one night Xochi and Pallas perform a riot-grrl ritual in good fun, accidentally summoning a pair of ancient creatures determined to exact vengeance for wrongs against Xochi. No one around her is safe – not her new family, nor the one she left behind.

Night Soil by Dale Peck 
(9781641290654, Soho Press, p/b, £12.99)

The art world falls in love with Dixie Stammers when it is discovered that not only are her pots mechanically perfect spheres, they are also identical, despite the fact that they are made entirely by hand. Her teenage son, Judas, is pathologically shy, and retreats into a world of anonymous sexual encounters at a roadside rest area. What he really longs for though is a relationship with one of the boys at the private school he attends. Driven by his mother’s secretive nature, Judas begins digging into his family’s history, until he unearths a series of secrets that cause him to question everything he thought he knew about his world.

Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth
(9780993563348, Myriad Editions, p/b, £17.99)

The curtains of lesbian history from the 1950s to the present day are opened by celebrated cartoonist Kate Charlesworth, with a little help from Gilbert and Sullivan and a side of Nancy Spain. Sensible Footwear is a glorious political and personal history that gives Pride a run for its money; but, like Pride, it wears its heart at the centre, making the invisible visible, and celebrating lesbian lives from the domestic to the diva.


August

Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
(9781484734117, Disney-Hyperion, p/b, £8.99)

When Danny Cheng discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined. Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

Love Lives Here by Amanda Jette Knox
(9780735235175, Viking, p/b, £14.99)

Amanda Jette Knox was unprepared when the child she knew as her son came out as transgender at the age of eleven. Shocked, but knowing how important it was to support her daughter, Jetté Knox became an ardent advocate for trans rights. But there was more to come. For many years, Amanda had coped with her spouse’s chronic unhappiness, which was taking a toll on their marriage. A little over a year after their child came out, her partner also came out as transgender. Knowing better than most what would lie ahead, Jetté Knox searched for positive examples of marriages surviving transition. When she found no role models, she determined that her family would become one.

Stonewall by Martin Duberman
(9780593083987, Plume, p/b, £15.00)

On June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, was raided by police. But instead of responding with the routine compliance the NYPD expected, patrons and a growing crowd decided to fight back. The five days of rioting that ensued changed forever the face of gay and lesbian life. In Stonewall, renowned historian and activist Martin Duberman tells the full story of this pivotal moment in history. With riveting narrative skill, he recreates those revolutionary, sweltering nights in vivid detail through the lives of six people who were drawn into the struggle for LGBTQ rights.

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This entry was posted on February 18, 2019 by in Books of the Month, Queer Fiction.

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