Author Picks

 

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) literature is a growing genre filled with a diverse array of novels that are pushing the literary envelope. These works of fiction challenge readers to explore worlds beyond conventional definitions and understandings of sexuality and gender identity/expression. From indie publishers to big presses, queer books are taking the literary world by storm, broadening everyone's understanding of sexuality and gender. These books are also providing queer readers with a lifeline though the opportunity to see themselves reflected on the page.

 


 

Stone Butch Blues
by Leslie Feinberg

 

I don't think it would be possible for me to even think about queer literature without referencing Stone Butch Blues. This novel was groundbreaking when it was first released, and has remained a touchstone for transgender and genderqueer readers. I consider Stone Butch Blues to be a canonical piece of queer literature, it was also one of the first queer books I ever read (at barely 18), and probably the first time a book of any genre left me breathless. Stone Butch Blues is a coming-of-age story unlike any you have readfollowing protagonist Jess Goldberg, a young butch lesbian, in 1950s pre-Stonewall blue-collar America. This is a gritty novel about survival, gender transgression, and desire. Though the title went out of print for some time, it has been re-released as a 20th Anniversary Authors Edition, available as a free digital download or an at-cost print edition at http://www.lesliefeinberg.net/. Up until the day of hir death in 2014, Feinberg was working to ready this special addition that was aligned with hir communist commitment to liberation from oppression. This new edition is dedicated to CeCe McDonald, a young transgender woman of color and community organizer who was sent to prison for defending herself against a white neo-Nazi attacker.  

 


 

We the Animals

by Justin Torres

 

Gorgeous and raw, We the Animals is one of those books you can't easily forget. This is a story of young parentsa white mother and a Puerto Rican fatherand their three boys living in a small upstate New York town. The novel is told from the perspective of the youngest child. There is a gorgeous weaving together of these stories, and of this familythe wildness of the brothers together, the passion between their parents and the way the family is united against the world. As the novel unfolds, it is an equally brutal detangling of that unit, and a ripping apart of the family. The father’s abuse, the youngest brother coming to understand himself as different and apart from his brothers, separated from them in part by his gayness. Poetic and enveloping, the writing in We the Animals is exquisite, every word feels carefully, and boldly placed.

 


 

Like a Woman

by Debra Busman


As a former teenage runaway, I have a tender spot for any queer book that focuses on homeless kids, so Like a Woman had to make my list of top queer books. Centering around the experiences of young women living on the streets of Los Angeles, this is a story of queerness, heartbreak and survival in so many meanings of that word. Like a Woman does not shy away from the experiences of violence, racism, and sexism, but rather confronts that reality head-on, pulling readers into the world of these teenstheir dreams, their fears, and their desires. Like a Woman is fast-pacedjust as life is, when every day centers around the hustle of trying to stay aliveand has an ending I'm still wrapping my head around. I read this book cover to cover in a single day.

 


 

Bottle Rocket Hearts

by Zoe Whittall

 

I got my literary start reading and writing zines, and this novel is both of that era and has the gritty feel of a zine. Bottle Rocket Hearts is a novel of brazen femininity, and explicit queerness. Set in punk houses of Montreal in 1995, this novel centers around riot grrrls and punks grappling with desire, politics, and coming of age. Eve, an 18 year old girl desperate to escape her parents' suburbia, sets out to build a home for herself among a group of older and more experienced queers and activists. Over the course of Bottle Rocket Hearts she must contemplate the implications of creating family, feminism, self-expression, desire, non-monogamy, and jealousy. Eve must also contend with the intimate impacts of substance use, hate crimes and HIV/AIDS on her community.

 


 

George

by Alex Gino

 

There is probably some kind of rule against including a book for younger readers on a list like this, but I'm going to do it anyway! I think every fiction reader can benefit from some children's literature every now and againand this book is a stellar example of the ways queer literature as a genre continues to grow. In George we meet a young fourth grade transgender girl who is very aware of who she is, and who she wants to be, even if the people around her (mom, brother, teachers, friends) aren't. George wants to play Scarlet in the fourth grade production of Charlotte's Webb. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens when, with the help of her best friend, George comes to school and says she has been rehearsing for the role and wants to audition, and the teacher says George can't because she's a boy! I never would have imagined we would see in my lifetime a book for middle readers that was so progressive, and so tenderly queer.

 


 

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Sassafras Lowrey is a straight-edge queer punk who grew up to become the 2013 winner of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award. Hir books—Kicked Out, Roving Pack, and Leather Ever After—have been honored by organizations ranging from the National Leather Association to the American Library Association. Sassafras' latest novel Lost Boi, a queer retelling of Peter Pan, was released from Arsenal Pulp Press in 2015 and was a Lammy Finalist for Transgender Fiction. Hir novella A Little Queermas Carol  is a current Lambda Literary Finalist in the Science Fiction/ Fantasy/ Horror category. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn with hir partner and five furry beasts. Learn more at www.SassafrasLowrey.com

 


 


 

BUY THE BOOKS

 

 

Lost Boi

 

 

Stone Butch Blues

 

 

We The Animals


 

Like a Woman

 

 

Bottle Rocket Hearts

 

 

George