Another rough year is behind us, and whilst we can’t possibly predict how 2022 will go, we can still lift your spirits with a run-through of all the exciting and game-changing queer lit we’ve got coming out over the first half of the year! Here, you’ll find books to fulfill all of your wildest dreams, from stories of queer joy and romance, to powerful essays on revolutionary activism.
Find the full list on Bookshop.org.
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The Care we Dream Of by Zena Sharman
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551528601, £16.99)
A series of essays and a call to action for more inclusive LGBTQ+ healthcare.
What if you could trust in getting the health care you need in ways that felt good and helped you thrive? What if the health system honored and valued queer and trans people’s lives, bodies and expertise? What if LGBTQ+ communities led and organized our own health care as a form of mutual aid? What if every aspect of our health care was rooted in a commitment to our healing, pleasure and liberation?
LGBTQ+ health care doesn’t look like this today, but it could. This is the care we dream of. Through a series of essays (by the author and others) and interviews, this book offers possibilities grounded in historical examples, present-day experiments, and dreams of the future – for more liberatory and transformative approaches to LGBTQ+ health and healing.
High-Risk Homosexual by Edgar Gomez
(Soft Skull Press, 9781593767051, p/b, £12.99)
This witty memoir traces a touching and often hilarious path to embracing a gay, Latinx identity against a culture of machismo.
A debut memoir about coming of age as a gay, Latinx man, HIGH-RISK HOMOSEXUAL opens in the ultimate anti-gay space: Edgar Gomez’s uncle’s cockfighting ring in Nicaragua, where he was sent at thirteen years old to become a man. Readers follow Gomez through the queer spaces where he learned to love being gay and Latinx, including Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, a drag queen convention in Los Angeles, and the doctor’s office where he was diagnosed a ‘high-risk homosexual.’
Ike’s Mystery Man: The Secret Lives of Robert Cutler by Peter Shinkle
(Truth To Power, 9781586423148, p/b, £19.99)
The Cold War, The Lavender Scare, and the Untold Story of Eisenhower’s first National Security Advisor.
Spanning President Eisenhower’s full presidency, National Security Advisor Robert “Bobby” Cutler – working alongside Ike and also the Dulles brothers at the CIA and State Department – shaped US Cold War strategy in far more consequential ways than previously understood. Cutler was in love with a man half his age, naval intelligence officer and NSC staffer Skip Koons. Cutler poured his emotions into a six-volume diary and dozens of letters that have been hidden from history. Steve Benedict, who was White House security officer, Cutlers’ friend and Koons’ friend and former lover, preserved Cutler’s papers. This gripping account reveals in fascinating detail Cutler’s intimate thoughts and feelings about US efforts to confront Soviet expansion and aggression while having to contend with the reality that tens of millions of people would die in a first nuclear strike, and that a full nuclear exchange would likely lead to human extinction.
Damn Shame by David Pevsner
(Penguin Random House, 9781039000506, p/b, £15.99)
A funny, daring, bawdy and incredibly honest memoir from the anti-ageist, anti-body shaming, pro-sex advocate and erotic provocateur.
Over the course of his 35-year career in show business, David Pevsner has done it all. He’s acted on Broadway, off-Broadway, in independent films and on numerous TV network shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family and Criminal Minds. DAMN SHAME gives a loud and powerful voice to a generation of mature men who have been conditioned to believe from society (and especially younger members of the gay community) that they are sexually irrelevant, old and undesirable. Pevsner’s life story goes in directions that many couldn’t imagine, but the lessons learned through his experiences will resonate with readers of every age.
My Mom Had an Abortion by Beezus B. Murphy & Tatiana Gill
(PM Press, 9781629639130, p/b, £11.99)
A biograpical coming-of-age tale about menstruation, abortion, and harmful stereotypes.
My Mom Had An Abortion is a unique coming-of-age tale told by a self-described dyslexic-asexual-lesbian-feminist teenager and illustrated by body-positive comic artist Tatiana Gill. We follow our protagonist Beezus B. Murphy as she chronicles her evolving understanding of menstruation, reproduction, and abortion and finds her place in a confusing world. This beautifully illustrated short graphic novel crucially fills a cultural gap around complexities of abortion, pop culture, body changes, and finding out where we fit in.
Tiger Honour by Yoon Ha Lee
(Rick Riordan Presents, 9781368055543, h/b, £14.99)
Acclaimed sci-fi author Yoon Ha Lee’s companion novel to the best-selling and award winning Dragon Pearl.
Sebin, a young tiger spirit from the Juhwang Clan, wants nothing more than to join the Thousand World Space Forces and, like their Uncle Hwan, captain a battle cruiser someday. But when Sebin’s acceptance letter finally arrives, it’s accompanied by the shocking news that Hwan has been declared a traitor. Apparently the captain abandoned his duty to steal a magical artefact, the Dragon Pearl, and his whereabouts are still unknown. Sebin hopes to help clear their hero’s name and restore honour to the clan.
Four Minutes by Nataliya Deleva
(Open Letter, 9781948830379, p/b, £11.99)
A meticulously crafted social novel, taking a difficult, uncompromising look at modern life in Eastern Europe.
Giving voice to people living on the periphery in post-communist Bulgaria, FOUR MINUTES centers around Leah, an orphan who suffered daily horrors growing up, and now struggles to integrate into society as a gay woman. She confronts her trauma by trying to volunteer at the orphanage, and to adopt a young girl – a choice that is frustrated over and over by bureaucracy and the pervasive stigma against gay women.
Green Glass Ghosts by Rae Spoon & Gemma Hall
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551528380, p/b, £15.99)
A rollicking yet introspective young adult adventure about screwing up, finding yourself, and forging a new life on your own.
Giving voice to people living on the periphery in post-communist Bulgaria, FOUR MINUTES centers around Leah, an orphan who suffered daily horrors growing up, and now struggles to integrate into society. Rae Spoon’s third book and first novel, GREEN GLASS GHOSTS takes place in the year 2000, when the world is still mostly analogue; pagers are the best way to get hold of someone, resumes are printed out on paper and dropped off in person, and what’s this new fad called webmail? Our hopeful hero arrives on the West Coast on the cusp of adulthood, fleeing a traumatic childhood in an unsafe family plagued by religious extremism, mental health crises, and abuse in a conservative town not known for accepting difference. They’re eager to build a new life among like-minded folks, and before they know it, they’ve got a job, an apartment, and a relationship.
Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year Vol. 6 Edited by Sinclair Sexsmith
(Cleis Press, 9781627783132, p/b, £15.99)
The latest enthralling instalment in Cleis Press’s Lambda-nominated series of the very best in lesbian erotic writing.
This is the 6th volume of the Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year series, and it is also Sexsmith’s third year in a row as the editor. This particular volume will feature representations of queer women, non-binary folks, trans women, and a variety of #Ownvoices viewpoints that are not as frequently seen in erotica. Tales will include characters representing the more marginalised among us when it comes to ability, race, ethnicity, class, neurodiversity, sexuality, age, and religion.
Crip Kinship by Shayda Kafai
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551528649, p/b, £14.99)
The remarkable story of Sins Invalid, a performance project that centres queer disability justice.
In recent years, disability activism has come into its own as a vital and necessary means to acknowledge the power and resilience of the disabled community, and to call out ableist culture wherever it appears. CRIP KINSHIP explores the art activism of Sins Invalid, a San Francisco Bay Area-based performance project, and its radical imaginings of what disabled, queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming bodyminds of colour can do: how they can rewrite oppression, and how they can gift us with transformational lessons for our collective survival.
I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson
(Berkley, 9780593334447, p/b, £12.99)
A chance to rewrite their ending is worth the risk in this swoony romantic comedy.
IIt’s been months since aspiring journalist Kian Andrews has heard from his ex-boyfriend, Hudson Rivers, but an urgent text has them meeting at a cafe. Maybe Hudson wants to profusely apologise for the breakup. Or confess his undying love… But no, Hudson has a favour to ask – he wants Kian to pretend to be his boyfriend while his parents are in town, and Kian reluctantly agrees. The dinner doesn’t go exactly as planned, and suddenly Kian is Hudson’s plus one to Georgia’s wedding of the season. Hudson comes from a wealthy family where reputation is everything, and he really can’t afford another mistake. If Kian goes, he’ll help Hudson preserve appearances and get the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in media. This could be the big career break Kian needs. But their fake relationship is starting to feel like it might be more than a means to an end, and it’s time for both men to fact-check their feelings.
This is My Real Name by Cid V. Brunet
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551528588, p/b, £19.99)
The frank and bracing memoir of a woman who spent ten years as a stripper.
THIS IS MY REAL NAME is the memoir of Cid V Brunet, who spent ten years (using the name Michelle) working as a dancer at strip clubs. From her very first lapdance in a small-town bar to working at high-end clubs, Michelle learns she must follow the unspoken rules that will allow her to succeed in the competitive industry. Along the way, she and her coworkers encounter compelling clients and unreasonable bosses and navigate their own relationships to drugs and alcohol. Michelle and her friends rely on each other’s camaraderie and strength in an industry that can be both toxic and deeply rewarding. Deeply personal, THIS IS MY REAL NAME demystifies stripping as a career with great respect and candor, while at the same time exploring the complex, sex-positive relationships (queer and otherwise) that make it meaningful.
A Door Behind a Door by Yelena Moskovich
(Influx Press, 9781910312933, p/b, £8.99)
An exploration of the post-Soviet diaspora, through a mesmeric blending of past and present, desire and violence.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Olga receives a phone call from a man she thought she’d never hear from again. Her life has changed since their childhood together in the Soviet Union. She has settled down with a girl she loves and has moved on from her previous life. Answering the call opens a Pandora’s box of haunting memories and unsolved puzzles: an unexplained murder in her childhood block, a supernatural stray dog, and the mystery of her beloved brother Moshe, who lost an eye and later vanished. In the search for answers, Olga uncovers an underground midwestern Russian mafia, and a string of connected stabbings, all of which seem irrevocably linked to her past, threatening the life she has created for herself.
Y’All Means All Edited by by Z. Zane McNeill
(PM PRESS, 9781629639147, p/b, £16.99)
A celebration of the weird and wonderful aspects of a troubled region in all of their manifest glory that centres queer disability justice.
This collection is a thought-provoking hoot and a holler of “we’re queer and we’re here to stay, cause we’re every bit a piece of the landscape as the rocks and the trees” echoing through the hills of Appalachia and into the boardrooms of every media outlet and opportunistic author seeking to define Appalachia from the outside for their own political agendas. Multidisciplinary and multi-genre, Y’ALL MEANS ALL incorporates elements of critical theory, such as critical race theory and queer theory, while dealing with a multitude of methodologies, from quantitative analysis, to oral history and autoethnography.
Limbic by Peter Scalpello
(Cipher Presss, 9781838390044, p/b, £10.99)
The debut collection from Forward and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet Peter Scalpello.
Limbic is Peter Scalpello’s glittering ode to sex, intimacy, and queer discovery. Taking us on slippery nights out fuelled by chemsex, on drunken lads’ holidays, and into the quiet violence of small domestic moments, this is a world where tracksuits hide queer desire, where shame masks vulnerability, where wallets hide wraps of crystal meth. From the eager trepidation of teenage sex, to the ecstasy of parties, to the stigma around HIV, Limbic is at once a therapy and a celebration, showing how queer learning can be both soft-edged and brutal at once. An exploration of masculinity, addiction and trauma, this is a revelatory collection of poems; wise, tender, and vital.
Ruin by Cara Hoffman
(PM PRESS, 9781629639314, h/b, £21)
A collection of stories that are an altogether brutal, surreal, and sharply beautiful exploration of the human psyche living in violent, oppressive conditions.
A little girl who disguises herself as an old man, an addict who collects dollhouse furniture, a crime reporter confronted by a talking dog, a painter trying to prove the non-existence of God, and lovers in a penal colony who communicate through technical drawings — these are just a few of the characters who live among the ruins. RUIN is both bracingly timely and eerily timeless in its examination of an American state in free fall, unsparing in its disregard for broken institutions, while shining with compassion for all who are left their wake. Cara Hoffman’s short fictions are brutal, surreal, hilarious, and transgressive, celebrating the sharp beauty of outsiders and the infinitely creative ways humans muster psychic resistance under oppressive conditions. The ultimate effect of these ten interconnected stories is one of invigoration and a sense of possibilities — hope for a new world extracted from the rubble of the old.
Polluted Sex by Lauren Foley
(Influx Press, 9781910312919, p/b, £7.99)
A pregnant woman takes the ferry to the UK. A fractious intimate relationship develops between an Irish woman, an English man, and her girlfriend. Two ungendered characters contest the same female body. A deserted wife takes a lover but remains unsatisfied. Lauren Foley’s debut collection of dramatic short stories, POLLUTED SEX, is fearless in its depiction of women’s bodies and sexuality, offering an unflinching window into Irish girl and womanhood.
Bad Girls by Camila Sosa Villada & Kit Maude
(Other Press, 9781635422023, h/b, £20)
A trans woman’s coming-of-age tale about finding a community among fellow outcasts.
Born in the small Argentine town of Mina Clavero, Camila is designated male but begins to identify from an early age as a girl. She is well aware that she’s different from other children and reacts to her oppressive, poverty-stricken home life, with a cowed mother and abusive, alcoholic father, by acting out – with swift consequences. Deeply intelligent, she eventually leaves for the city to attend university, slipping into prostitution to make ends meet. And in Sarmiento Park, in the heart of Cìrdoba, she discovers the strange, wonderful world of the trans sex workers who dwell there.
The Transgender Child by Stephanie Brill & Rachel Pepper
(Cleis Press, 9781627783248, p/b, £14.99)
A comprehensive and compassionate guide for parents and guardians of gender diverse children and teenagers.
Fifteen years after its ground-breaking release, THE TRANSGENDER CHILD: A HANDBOOK FOR FAMILIES AND PROFESSIONALS (Cleis Press, 2008), is the most comprehensive, widely used resource for families seeking to better understand and support their nonbinary, gender expansive, or transgender child and teen. The first guidebook of its kind, now translated into multiple languages and utilised around the world, it remains the most trusted source for caregivers, teachers, child advocates, and medical and mental health professionals on this topic. As authors, Stephanie Brill, educator and the founder of Gender Spectrum, and licensed therapist Rachel Pepper, bring their own extensive experience to this thoroughly updated new edition, as well as incorporating new research, interviews with parents across the United States, and conversations with cutting edge professionals such as Dr Diane Ehrensaft, Dr Jen Hastings, and youth advocate Tony Ferraiolo.al.
Beast at Every Threshold by Natalie Wee
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551528830, p/b, £12.99)
A formidable collection of poems that deconstruct ‘otherness’ through folklore and myth.
An unflinching shapeshifter, BEAST AT EVERY THRESHOLD dances between familial hauntings and cultural histories, intimate hungers and broader griefs. Memories become malleable, pop culture provides a backdrop to glittery queer love, and folklore speaks back as a radical tool of survival. With unapologetic precision, Natalie Wee unravels constructs of ‘otherness’ and names language our most familiar weapon, illuminating the intersections of queerness, diaspora, and loss with obsessive, inexhaustible ferocity – and in resurrecting the self-rendered a site of violence, makes visible the ‘BEAST AT EVERY THRESHOLD’. Beguiling and deeply imagined, Wee’s poems explore thresholds of marginality, queerness, immigration, nationhood, and reinvention of the self through myth.
My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551528731, p/b, £16.99)
An audacious new novel from the fiercely talented author of Vanishing Monuments.
On the morning of June 2, 2016, a jogger in Central Park notices a mass of stone in the centre of the reservoir, a mass that three weeks later will have grown into an active stratovolcano nearly two and a half miles tall. This inexplicable event seems to coincide with an escalation of strange phenomena happening around the world. MY VOLCANO is a pre-apocalyptic vision following a global and diverse cast of characters, each experiencing private and collective eruptions: an eight-year-old boy in Mexico City finds himself 500 years in the past, where he lives through the fall of the Aztec Empire; a folktale scholar in Tokyo studies a story with indeterminate origins about a woman coming down a mountain to destroy villages and towns; a white trans writer living in Jersey City struggles to write a sci-fi novel about a thriving civilisation on an impossible planet; a nurse with Doctors without Borders works with Syrian refugees in Greece as she tries to grapple with the trauma of surviving an American bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan; a nomadic herder in Mongolia is stung by a bee and finds himself transformed into a green, thorned, flowering creature that aims to cleanse the world’s most polluted places on its path toward assimilating every living thing on Earth into its consciousness.
Swollening by Jason Purcell
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551528854, p/b, £13.99)
A tender debut poetry collection that examines the queer, sick body as a reaction to an ill world.
Jason Purcell’s debut collection of poems rests at the intersection of queerness and illness, staking a place for the queer body that has been made sick through living in this world. Part poetic experiment and part memoir, SWOLLENING attempts to diagnose what has been undiagnosable, tracing an uneven path from a lifetime of swallowing bad feelings – homophobia in its external and internalised manifestations, heteronormativity, anxiety surrounding desire, aversion to sex – to a body in revolt. In poems that speak using the grammar and logics of sickness, Purcell offers a dizzying collision of word and image that is the language of pain alongside the banality of living on.
The Harvey Milk Story by Kari Krakow & David C. Gardner
(Lee & Low, 9781643796000, p/b, £8.99)
A hopeful and inspiring biography of the historic gay activist Harvey Milk.
From his childhood on Long Island, through college, his service with the Navy, and years as a schoolteacher, Harvey Milk was always popular, intelligent, and energetic. But he was also hiding a secret: He was gay. He eventually moved to San Francisco, where there was a strong LGBTQ community and he could be free to be himself. As he talked to people in his neighbourhood, he realised many people who were usually ignored by the government deserved better protection: people in the LGBT community, people of colour, people with disabilities, and more. Though his career as a public servant was sadly and suddenly cut short, his pride as an openly gay man and his passion for equality has inspired countless people to continue his work. Harvey’s legacy is everywhere today, especially in the hundreds of openly gay elected officials in every level of government.
Solo Dance by Li Kotomi & Arthur Reiji Morris
World Editions, 9781912987351, p/b, £13.99)
An important queer voice from East Asia’s millennial generation.
Cho Norie, twenty-seven and originally from Taiwan, is working an office job in Tokyo. While her colleagues worry about the economy, life-insurance policies, marriage, and children, she is forced to keep her unconventional life hidden— including her sexuality and the violent attack that prompted her move to Japan. There is also her unusual fascination with death: she knows from personal experience how devastating death can be, but for her it is also creative fuel. SOLO DANCE depicts the painful coming of age of a gay person in Taiwan and corporate Japan. This striking debut is an intimate and powerful account of a search for hope after trauma.
Crisis and Care Edited by Adrian Shanker
(PM PRESS, 9781629639352, p/b, £13.99)
A look at the ways Queer activists mobilised in response to the great uncertainty and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
CRISIS AND CARE reveals what is possible when activists mobilise for the radical changes our society needs. In a time of great uncertainty, fear, and isolation, Queer activists organised for health equity, prison abolition, racial justice, and more. Nobody who lived through the COVID-19 pandemic will soon forget the challenges, sacrifices, and incredible loss felt during such an uncertain time in history. CRISIS AND CARE anthologises not what happened during COVID-19, or why it happened, but rather how Queer activists responded in real time. It considers the necessity to memorialise resiliency as well as loss, hope as well as pain, to remember the strides forward as well as the steps back. Activist contributors Zephyr Williams, Mark Travis Rivera, Jamie Gliksburg, Denise Spivak, Emmett Patterson, Omar Gonzales-Pagan, Kenyon Farrow, and more provide a radical lens through which future activists can consider effective strategies to make change, even or perhaps especially, during periods of crisis.
Your Place or Mine? by Gilles Dauvé
(PM PRESS, 9781629639451, p/b, £14.99)
A collection of essays by political theorist Gilles Dauvé on the historical and current intersections of radical sexual and gender politics with class and identity
In a fascinating and radical critique of identity and class, YOUR PLACE OR MINE? examines the modern invention of homosexuality as a social construct that emerged in the 19th century. Examining ‘fairies’ in Victorian England, transmen in early 20th century Manhattan, sexual politics in Soviet Russia as well as Stonewall’s attempt to combine gay self-defence with revolutionary critique, Dauvé turns his keen eye on contemporary political correctness in the United States, and the rise of reactionary discourse. The utopian vision of YOUR PLACE OR MINE? is vital to a just society: the invention of a world where one can be human without having to be classified by sexual practices or gender expressions. Where one need not find shelter in definition or assimilation. A refreshing reminder that we are not all the same, nor do we need to be.
Nettleblack by Nat Reeve
(Cipher Press, 9781838390068, p/b, £9.99)
Subversive and playful, Nettleblack is a neo-Victorian queer farce that follows a runaway heir/ess and an organisation of crime-fighting misfits as they struggle with the misdeeds besieging a rural English town.
The year is 1893. Having run away from her family home to escape an arranged marriage, Welsh heiress Henry Nettleblack finds herself ambushed and robbed by an infamous criminal duo before being rescued by the mysterious Dallyangle Division – part detective agency, part neighbourhood watch. Desperate to hide from her older sisters, Henry disguises herself and enlists. But the Division soon finds itself under siege from a spate of crimes and must fight for its very survival. Assailed by strange feelings for her new colleague – the tomboyish, moody Septimus – Henry quickly sees that she’s lost in a small rural town with surprisingly big problems. And to make things worse, sinister forces threaten to expose her as the missing Nettleblack sister. As the net starts to close around Henry, the new people in her life seem to offer her a way out, and a way forward. Is the world she’s lost in also a place she can find herself? Told through journal entries and letters, NETTLEBLACKis a picaresque ride through the perils and joys of finding your place in the world, challenging myths about queerness – particularly transness – as a modern phenomenon, while exploring he practicalities of articulating queer perspectives when you’re struggling for words.
There Has Always Been a War by Lori Fox
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 9781551528779, p/b, £14.99)
A powerful, personal critique of capitalist patriarchy as seen through the eyes of a queer radical.
Capitalism has infiltrated every aspect of our personal, social, economic, and sexual lives. By examining the politics of gender, environment and sexuality, we can see the ways straight, cis, white, and especially male upper-class people control and subvert the other – queer, non-binary, BIPOC, and female bodies – in order to keep the working lower classes divided. In essays that are both accessible and inspiring, Lori Fox examines their confrontations with the capitalist patriarchy through their experiences as a queer, non-binary, working-class farm hand, labourer, bartender, bush-worker, and road dog, exploring the ugly places where issues of gender, sexuality, class, and the environment intersect.