A cornucopia of tales celebrating the storytelling power of the LGBTQI+ community in all its glory, experimentation, beauty and levity.
Love in the Big City, by Sang Young Park
A portrait of contemporary Korean queer culture that is both celebratory and mournful, ironic and melancholy in equal measure, rendered in a narrative style that brims with personality. Our narrator ricochets between friends, conquests and boyfriends over many years. But Love in the Big City celebrates this multitude of love: platonic, romantic, sexual; idyllic and devastating. Surely destined to become a queer cult classic.
Tomb of Sand, by Geetanjali Shree
This literal tome might look daunting but it is more than worth a read. Over the course of 700 pages, this deft novel looks a wide variety of themes including old age, depression, the Partition, borders, queerness, mother-daughter relationships and colonialism, with intelligence, humour and great tenderness.
The Opposite of a Person, by Lieke Marsman
A Dutch climatologist leaves her girlfriend behind in Amsterdam while she embarks on an internship in the Italian Alps- where she muses on climate change, homosexuality and coming out, love, loneliness, language, and how to live well and be a good person. It’s a beautiful existential and philosophical novel which will likely make you think about the world in radically different ways – at least it did for us!
City of Night, by John Rechy
City of Night: John Rechy£10.99
A relatively overlooked mid-century American classic: imagine On the Road by Jack Kerouac, if it were much, much queerer and actually really very good (sorry, Kerouac enthusiasts, but that’s just how it is.) Through a beguiling stream-of-consciousness style, Rechy follows one “youngman” hustling aimlessly across the US, jumping between different scores, scenes and slums on an erotic and spiritual odyssey. Utterly unique.
Milk Fed, by Melissa Broder
Hilarious, melancholy and bizarre in equal measures, this is a great summer read. You’ll likely literally gobble it up. 24 year old Rachel is a lapsed Jew with a restrictive eating disorder. Her day is structured by food rules and exercise. That is, until she meets Miriam, who works in her local Froyo shop and becomes intent upon feeding her. The two strike up an unlikely friendship, which slowly grows more intimate marked by hunger, appetites, desire and shame.
Ruth & Pen, by Emilie Pine
Ruth & Pen: Emilie Pine£14.99
In some ways, Ruth & Pen feels like a contemporary (and more accessible) rendition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Taking place in a single day in Dublin, the novel follows the two titular women, unknown to each other but plagued by similar concerns, on the verge of falling in and out of love. Ruth is contemplating her marriage to Aiden, and whether the wounds that they have inflicted on each other can be repaired. Pen is preparing to speak her truth, and tell her best friend Alice exactly what she means to her. It’s a tender consideration of love, miscommunication, friendship, neurodivergence, fertility, the climate crisis, therapy and grief. It broke and simultaneously warmed our hearts and we hope you enjoy your ‘trip’ to Dublin as much as we did.
The Great Mistake, by Jonathan Lee
An achingly well-written historical piece that details the life of Andrew Haswell Green, the real-life ‘Father of Greater New York’ and pivotal figure in the construction of Centra Park. Gently fictionalising and extrapolating the details of his repressed inner life and the circumstances of his tragic death (possibly the great mistake of the title), it is a jewel of restraint.
Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy
Simply put, Woman on the Edge of Time is a masterwork of feminist science-fiction. While unfairly institutionalised, Connie flits in and out of the present: from the dystopic but not-so-unfamiliar world of 1970s New York, to the possible society of “Mattapoisett”–a decentralised, classless, and gender non-conforming vision of the future.
Our Wives Under the Sea, by Julia Armfield
Our Wives Under the Sea£16.99
When marine biologist Leah returns to her wife Miri after an extended deep sea voyage, it’s clear that she has come back altered. She is distant and strange, changed beyond recognition by the experience, and the foundations of their strong and loving relationship have started to crumble. Miri is left questioning who her wife has become, what is left of their marriage, and what happened in the depths of the ocean? This is a deeply atmospheric, haunting and romantic novel with an eeriness that stayed with us long after finishing the book.
Filthy Animals, by Brandon Taylor
In 2021 it seemed as if the short story collection was having a kind of moment, and Filthy Animals was certainly one of the best to emerge at this time. We already knew Brandon Taylor was a star, but boy did this blow us away. The stories across this collection are linked, with characters reoccurring and weaving in and out of the narratives. In one story, Lionel is discharged from hospital and attends a party-where he meets and is drawn to the magnetic Charles and Sophie. In another, a childminder is driven mad by her out-of-control charge. The stories are linked not only by characters but by themes which are explored and developed across them, from loneliness and depression, to violence, love and tenderness. It’s a rich and masterful collection that is honestly, simply astonishing.
Paul Takes The Form Of A Mortal Girl, by Andrea Lawlor
Absolutely rampant and vicious with its description of a life lived at a frenetic social and sexual pace, the adventures of Paul Polydoris are simultaneously life-affirming and alarming. With a soundtrack perfectly pitched at the inception of the transgressive grunge scene, this is a richly told and indefatigable hymn to excess, and one that doesn’t shy away from the varying emotional fallout.
The Fat Lady Sings, by Jacqueline Roy
The term “rediscovered classic” gets bandied around a lot, but in this case it’s apt. Rediscovered and republished by Bernadine Evaristo as part of Penguin’s “Black Britain: Writing Back” series, it absolutely deserves to remain shelved alongside the other greats of modern British writing. The Fat Lady Sings follows two Black women from very different worlds who have fallen through the social cracks, stuck going round in circles inside a health system which is only interested in silencing and sedating them. This might sound pretty heavy, but The Fat Lady Sings is a radically hopeful and enjoyable novel about Black British identity, queer joy and found family.
100 Boyfriends, by Brontez Purnell
This unapologetically filthy collection of short stories is utterly glorious. With a captivating narrative voice, Purnell offers snapshots of queer relationships – from one night stands, to years long entanglements which devastate, shock and delight in equal measures.
Giovanni’s Room, by James Baldwin
PMC Giovanni’s Room£9.99
You’re in a very safe pair of hands with James Baldwin. His considered style of prose is almost relaxing in its pace and weight, even when you can feel the heat coming off the page. Giovanni’s Room is a great place to start with Baldwin’s work, and has very much earned its place as a queer classic. But, no reason to stop there – his oeuvre is varied and phenomenal.
Detransition, Baby, by Torrey Peters
Destransition Baby has become that book everyone’s talking about – and deservedly so. A funny, warm and compulsively readable depiction of motherhood in all its forms, built with compassion and detail into that rarest of novels: one that lives up to its excellent title.
The Adventures of China Iron, by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara
Adventures Of China Iron£9.99
This is a book that will transport you to the dusty plains of the Pampas in 1872, evoking the excitement of wind-in-your-hair journeys, the joy of discovery and the freedom of travel. It’s a journey of unlikely friendships, rich cultural discovery, sexual awakening and British customs in the wild and endless Pampas (Liz seems to be able to produce un-ending tea, whisky, umbrellas and other luxury items from the depths of the wagon). You’ll be swept up by the sense of freedom and you will punch the air in celebration of China Iron’s joyful and liberating journey.
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