Thursday, 6:00 pm EST - 8:00 pm EST June 22, 2023
The Center for Fiction
Support the work of these outstanding LGBTQ+ writers by registering with the Ticket/Voucher option, which includes a $10 voucher redeemable toward any of the featured event books from our nonprofit Bookstore on the night of the event.
The oppressive book bans and legislation this year are a reminder of the original spirit of Pride month; to rise up, be visible, and be heard in defiance of ignorance and hate. We at The Center for Fiction are going all OUT with this affirming celebration of LGBTQ+ literature!
Join us for a community game of Exquisite Corpse, music, happy hour specials, and readings from an exciting lineup of LGBTQ+ writers, including Jenny Fran Davis (Dykette), Eliot Duncan (Ponyboy), Henry Hoke (Open Throat), Haley Jakobson (Old Enough), Lancali (I Fell in Love with Hope), Amelia Possanza (Lesbian Love Story), Bushra Rehman (Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion), Candace Williams (I Am the Most Dangerous Thing), and Denne Michelle Norris, whose debut novel, When the Harvest Comes, is forthcoming from Random House! In addition to the readings, this event is the school book fair you always wished for, with all the colors of the LGBTQ+ rainbow represented in print. So bring your book sack and go home with new stories to read.
We promise joy, pride, literature, and, quite frankly, a good old time!
Presented in partnership with Electric Literature.
Jenny Fran Davis
Jenny Fran Davis
Jenny Fran Davis received her MFA from the University of Iowa, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. The author of Everything Must Go, a novel for teenagers, she lives in Brooklyn.
Eliot Duncan is a U.S.-born writer and artist. He is the cofounder of the international queer collective Slanted House and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives in London.
Photo Credit: Lucien Phoenix
Henry Hoke is an editor at The Offing and a writer whose work has appeared in No Tokens, Triangle House Review, Electric Literature, and the flash noir anthology Tiny Crimes. He cocreated the performance series Enter>text in Los Angeles and has taught at CalArts and the UVA Young Writers Workshop. He lives in New York City.
Photo Credit: Myles Pettengill
Haley Jakobson (she/her) is a bisexual writer living in Brooklyn, New York. In her work, she explores queerness, mental health, and trauma. Haley loves bodega sandwiches (no cheese), writing on the subway, and will change your mind about Geminis. Old Enough is her debut.
Photo Credit: Monika Lis
Lancali is a pen name for Lou-Andrea Callewaert. Lou was born in France and raised in the United States, but no matter where she was, Lou found herself lost to her imagination. From the time she was able to read, Lou’s passion for literature and languages helped her develop her craft as a writer. I Fell in Love with Hope is her first novel and she is currently writing her second one. She attends the University of Florida, studying literature and classics.
Photo Credit: Lancali
Denne Michele Norris
Denne Michele Norris
Denne Michele Norris is the editor-in-chief of Electric Literature, winner of the 2022 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize, where she is the first Black openly trans woman to helm a major literary publication. A 2021 Out100 Honoree, her writing has been supported by MacDowell, Tin House, VONA, and the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction. Her short fiction has been widely anthologized, and appears in McSweeney’s American Short Fiction and Zora, among others. She co-hosts the critically acclaimed podcast Food 4 Thot and her debut novel, When the Harvest Comes, is forthcoming from Random House.
Photo Credit: Hilary Leichter
A full-time book publicist and part-time writer, Amelia Possanza currently lives in Brooklyn with her cat. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Electric Literature, the Millions, and NPR’s Invisibilia. Lesbian Love Story is her first book.
Photo Credit: Becca Farsace
Bushra Rehman’s collection of stories, Corona, a dark comedy about being Muslim American was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of its favorite books about New York City and her book of poems, Marianna’s Beauty Salon was described by Joseph O. Legaspi as a “love poem for Muslim girls, Queens, and immigrants making sense of their foreign home–and surviving.” She coedited the anthology Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, which was chosen as one of Ms. Magazine’s “100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time.” Her newest novel, Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion centers on friendship and queer desire among young Pakistani-American women from Queens.
Photo Credit: Andrea Dobrich
Candace Williams is a poet and interdisciplinary artist. I Am the Most Dangerous Thing (Alice James Books, 2023) is their debut full-length poetry collection. Candace earned their Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) from Claremont McKenna College and Master of Arts in Education from Stanford University. They grew up in the Pacific Northwest and found love and poetry in Brooklyn, New York. Now, Candace lives and makes art in New England.
By Jenny Fran Davis
Published by Henry Holt and Co.
Sasha and Jesse are professionally creative, erotically adventurous, and passionately dysfunctional twentysomethings making a life together in Brooklyn. When a pair of older, richer lesbians—prominent news host Jules Todd and her psychotherapist partner, Miranda—invites Sasha and Jesse to their country home for the holidays, they’re quick to accept. Even if the trip includes a third couple—Jesse’s best friend, Lou, and their cool-girl flame, Darcy—whose It-queer clout Sasha ridicules yet desperately wants.
As the late December afternoons blur together in a haze of debaucherous homecooked feasts and sweaty sauna confessions, so too do the guests’ secret and shifting motivations. When Jesse and Darcy collaborate an ill-fated livestream performance, a complex web of infatuation and jealousy emerges, sending Sasha down a spiral of destructive rage that threatens each couple’s future.
Unfolding over ten heady days, Dykette is an unforgettable love story at the crossroads of queer nonconformity and seductive normativity. With propulsive plotting and sexy, wickedly entertaining prose, Jenny Fran Davis captures the vagaries of desire and the many devastating places in which we seek recognition.
By Eliot Duncan
Published by W. W. Norton
In the first of three acts, Ponyboy’s titular narrator—a pill-popping, speed-snorting trans-masculine lightning bolt—unravels in his Paris apartment. Ponyboy is caught in a messy love triangle with Baby, a lesbian painter who can’t see herself being with someone trans, and Toni, a childhood friend who can actually see Ponyboy for who he is. Strung out, Ponyboy follows Baby to Berlin in act two, where he sinks deeper into drugs and falls for Gabriel, all the while pursued by a megalomaniacal photographer hungry for the next hot thing. As Ponyboy’s relationships crumble, he overdoses and find himself alone in his childhood home in Iowa. The novel’s final act follows Ponyboy to rehab, exploring the ways in which trans identity, addiction, and recovery reforge the bond between mother and child. Eliot Duncan reveals, in precise atmospheric prose reminiscent of Anne Carson and Allen Ginsberg, the innate splendor, joy, and ache of becoming oneself..
By Henry Hoke
Published by FSG
A queer and dangerously hungry mountain lion lives in the drought-devastated land under the Hollywood sign. Lonely and fascinated by humanity’s foibles, the lion spends their days protecting a nearby homeless encampment, observing obnoxious hikers complain about their trauma, and, in quiet moments, grappling with the complexities of their gender identity, memories of a vicious father, and the indignities of sentience. “I have so much language in my brain,” our lion says, “and nowhere to put it.”
When a man-made fire engulfs the encampment, the lion is forced from the hills down into the city the hikers call “ellay.” As the lion confronts a carousel of temptations and threats, they take us on a tour that spans the cruel inequalities of Los Angeles and the toll of climate grief, while scrambling to avoid earthquakes, floods, and the noise of their own conflicted psyche. But even when salvation finally seems within reach, they are forced to face down the ultimate question: Do they want to eat a person, or become one?
In elegiac prose woven with humor, imagination, sensuality, and tragedy, Henry Hoke’s Open Throat is a marvel of storytelling, a universal journey through a wondrous and menacing world told by a lovable mountain lion. Both feral and vulnerable, profound and playful, Open Throat is a star-making novel that brings mythmaking to real life.
By Haley Jakobson
Published by Dutton
Savannah Henry is almost the person she wants to be, or at least she’s getting closer. It’s the second semester of her sophomore year. She’s finally come out as bisexual, is making friends with the other queers in her dorm, and has just about recovered from her disastrous first queer “situationship.” She is cautiously optimistic that her life is about to begin.
But when she learns that her best friend from childhood, Izzie, has gotten engaged, Savannah’s life is sent into a tailspin. Things with Izzie haven’t been the same since what happened between Savannah and Izzie’s older brother when they were sixteen. Now, with the wedding around the corner, Savannah is pulled back into a history she had just barely begun to heal from.
To make things more complicated? Savannah is definitely in love with her classmate Wes—sweet, long-eyelashed, funny Wes and their green backpack—something her college friends Candace and Vera take great pleasure in teasing her about.
With a singularly funny, heartfelt voice, Old Enough explores queer love, community, and what it means to be a survivor. Haley Jakobson has written a love letter to friendship, and an honest depiction of what finding your people can feel like—for better or worse..
I Fell in Love with Hope
Published by Atri / Emily Bestler Books
Against the unforgiving landscape of a hospital, a group of terminally ill patients embraces the joys within their reach: friendship, freedom, rebellion. Each in their own way is broken; each in their own way is stronger for it.
In the midst of pain and loss, they find community, even miracles, and together they are determined to reclaim from life what illness has taken from them. But a singular heartbreak has led one to swear off love forever. The risk of experiencing another tragedy feels too great. Yet, in this desolate place where it seems impossible for love to make an appearance, a door opens—and so do hearts.
Lesbian Love Story
By Amelia Possanza
Published by Catapult
When Amelia Possanza moved to Brooklyn to build a life of her own, she found herself surrounded by queer stories: she read them on landmark placards, overheard them on the pool deck when she joined the world’s largest LGBTQ swim team, and even watched them on TV in her cockroach-infested apartment. These stories inspired her to seek out lesbians throughout history who could become her role models, in romance and in life.
Centered around seven love stories for the ages, this is Possanza’s journey into the archives to recover the personal histories of lesbians in the twentieth century: who they were, how they loved, why their stories were destroyed, and where their memories echo and live on. Possanza’s hunt takes readers from a drag king show in Bushwick to the home of activists in Harlem and then across the ocean to Hadrian’s Library, where she searches for traces of Sappho in the ruins. Along the way, she discovers her own love—for swimming, for community, for New York City—and adds her record to the archive.
At the heart of this riveting, inventive history, Possanza asks: How could lesbian love help us reimagine care and community? What would our world look like if we replaced its foundation of misogyny with something new, with something distinctly lesbian?.
Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion
By Bushra Rehman
Published by Flatiron Books
Razia Mirza grows up amid the wild grape vines and backyard sunflowers of Corona, Queens, with her best friend, Saima, by her side. When a family rift drives the girls apart, Razia’s heart is broken. She finds solace in Taslima, a new girl in her close-knit Pakistani-American community. They embark on a series of small rebellions: listening to scandalous music, wearing mini skirts, and cutting school to explore the city.
When Razia is accepted to Stuyvesant, a prestigious high school in Manhattan, the gulf between the person she is and the daughter her parents want her to be, widens. At Stuyvesant, Razia meets Angela and is attracted to her in a way that blossoms into a new understanding. When their relationship is discovered by an Aunty in the community, Razia must choose between her family and her own future.
Punctuated by both joy and loss, full of ’80s music and beloved novels, Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion is a new classic: a fiercely compassionate coming-of-age story of a girl struggling to reconcile her heritage and faith with her desire to be true to herself.
I Am the Most Dangerous Thing
By Candace Williams
Published by Alice James Books
Over the course of these poems, the Black, queer protagonist begins to erase violent structures and fill the white spaces with her hard-won wisdom and love. I Am the Most Dangerous Thing doesn’t just use poetry to comment on life and history. The book is a comment on writing itself. What have words done? When does writing become a form of disengagement, or worse, violence?
The book is an exercise in paring the state down to its true logic of violence and imagining what can happen next. There are many contradictions—although the protagonist teaches the same science that was used to justify enslavement and a racial caste system, she knows she will die at the hands of science and denies the state the last word by penning her own death certificate. As an educator and knowledge worker, she is an overseer of the same racist, misogynistic, and homophobic systems that terrorize her. Yet, she musters the courage to kill Kurtz, a primordial vision of white terror. She is Black and queer and fat and angry and chill and witty and joyful and depressed and lovely and flawed and an (im)perfect dagger to the heart of white supremacist capitalism..