10 remarkable LGBTQ novels that will educate and entertain
The LGBTQ community has always had a voice in literature, from ancient writings to our current bestseller lists. It is by telling and sharing stories that empathy and understanding can take place. For Pride Month, we’ve rounded up 10 remarkable books written by or about the LGBTQ community that we recommend you read.
These works are among the first to explore homosexual love and gender fluidity in Western canon. Some are revealing classics that were ahead of their time, others are known to be embodiments of a complex moment in time. They gave voice not only to the struggles, but also to the overwhelming strengths and resilience of the LGBTQ community. These are only very good reads.
Published in 1928, Woolf based this semi-biographical novel on fellow novelist Vita Sackville-West with whom Woolf had an affair and friendship. It follows the life of a nobleman and poet who passes from male to female at the age of 30 and continues to live for hundreds of years. The novel has always been a notable book in the history of female writing, but in recent years the novel’s approach to genre fluidity has helped spark a dialogue about how the genre is portrayed.
The novel, first published in 1969, has long been considered one of the first mainstream YA novels to focus on homosexuality. The novel is told from the perspective of Davy Ross, a lonely 13-year-old who is forced to move in with his mother from whom he is separated after the death of his grandmother. Davy befriends his classmate Altschuler and their relationship evolves into a sexual relationship where Davy in turn struggles with his identity.
Baldwin, novelist, poet, and activist, explored race, class, and sexuality in his prose. In “Giovanni’s Room” from 1956, he tells the story of David, a young American expatriate living in Paris who has a romantic relationship with an Italian named Giovanni. David spends much of the novel grappling with his sexuality, and Baldwin’s empathetic account of homosexuality and bisexuality was revolutionary for its time.
With her flagship work, Walker became the first black woman and the first novel to feature a lesbian protagonist to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The story follows the life of Celie, a poor, uneducated black woman who came of age in the South in the early 1900s. The novel has been frequently banned and contested since its publication, primarily due to complaints about its portrayal of the sexuality, especially the lesbian relationship between Celie and Shug Avery. It also won the National Book Award for Fiction and has been adapted into a film and Broadway musical.
What makes this 1952 novel remarkable is that it is one of the earliest literary romances where its depiction of a lesbian romance happily ends. Based on a true story from the life of Highsmith, the novel follows a department store employee, Therese Belivet, who falls in love and begins an affair with a customer, a married woman named Carol. The author, who also wrote “Strangers on a Train” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, used the pseudonym Claire Morgan when she first published “The Price of Salt”. The book will be reissued under the real name Highsmith in the 1980s. The novel was adapted into the movie “Carol” in 2015 and reissued under that title as well.
From the famous English writer of classics such as “Where Angels Fear to Tread”, “A Room with a View”, “Howards End” and “A Passage to India”, comes a story of self-discovery and, ultimately, love. filled. Published after Forster’s death, the novel follows Maurice Hall from his teenage years to adulthood and his complicated relationship with Clive Durham and Alec Scudder. The novel met with mixed reviews when it was first published, but is considered a literary classic today.
Perhaps what makes this bestselling book and finalist for the Booker Prize so intriguing is the ferocity with which readers either love it or hate it. Critics gave the novel mostly rave reviews, with Garth Greenwell of “The Atlantic” suggesting that “A Little Life” was the “long-awaited gay novel”. On the other end of the spectrum, there are readers who think the book is too overtly graphic in terms of describing trauma, violence, and abuse. Although the perception of the story differs depending on the reader, it is a novel that, good or bad, stays with you.
In its debut, the 2013 YA novel was awarded and received the Stonewall Honor Book for Children and received the Lammy from Lambda Literary and was shortlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. The novel, about two boys seeking to break a Guinness World Record for kissing, then the novel immediately aroused animosity from others as one of the Top 10 Contested Books compiled by the American Library Association. It continues to appear on the various lists of prohibited books ever since.
Sometimes what makes a novel stand out is its reach in the mainstream media. Originally published in 2007, this story of a romance that blossoms between a teenager and a summer guest at his parents’ house on the Italian Riviera, made a name for itself after the release of the film adaptation of Same name came out in 2018.The novel landed on several bestseller lists, including a 20-week series on USA TODAY Best-Selling Books. Aciman would follow the novel with the much-loved and best-selling “Find Me”.
What makes this book extraordinary is its beautifully ordinary depiction of aging, love and loss for its protagonist George, a middle-aged English teacher who mourns the tragic loss of his young partner, Jim. . There was a universality in Isherwood’s portrayal of love that made the novel stand out at the time of its publication in 1964 that transcended sexuality. Fashion designer Tom Ford turned the novel into a film of the same name in 2009 starring Colin Firth.