Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. HarperCollins, 2016. For August, friendship was everything. It was the 1970s in Brooklyn. She and her three best girlfriends lived confident of their talents, dreaming of the future. But their Brooklyn was a dangerous place, where dreams were fleeting, and growing up female was not easy. Woodson’s latest novel is an epic poem, honoring memories of girlhood, fragile community, and fate.
Beijing Comrades by Bei Tong. Translated by Scott E. Myers, forward by Petrus Liu. Feminist Press, 2016. This classic forbidden love story has a modern twist, beginning shortly before the protests in Tiananmen Square. A businessman in China makes contact with a younger man over the internet and the romance that follows changes his life in ways that hold a mirror up to the tumult occurring in his country.
Call Me By My Other Name by Valerie Wetlaufer. Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016. A true story of a transgender man in the 1890s, his short incarceration, and discovery as a biological female, his wife, the people around him who react to the discovery of his gender assigned at birth, and a modern response to a tale that has repeated for over a century. The language reads like truth carved in whispers and blood on the heart.
The Cosmopolitans by Sarah Schulman. Feminist Press, 2016. Schulman tells a story of neighbors: Earl, a closeted, black gay man, and Bette, a middle-aged lesbian. She evokes the time and the atmosphere of midcentury Greenwich Village. Their thirty-year friendship is the story of chosen families, as well as the history of a city where they, and queer people arriving from around the United States, tried to be themselves.
Dig by Bryan Borland. Stillhouse, 2016. This slim collection of poetry from Borland, the 2015 Lambda Literary Fellow in poetry, rings of painful and joyful truth. From incisive views on his family’s acceptance of his husband (Easter in Your Hometown) to quiet personal moments of pain (My Cat) to life and death (The Jumpers) to love and loss (Gold and Silver Mixed to One), his voice is clear, fierce, and lingers in the reader’s mind.
God in Pink by Hasan Namir. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015. The story follows Ramy, a devout Muslim college student in Iraq in 2003, who copes with being gay in the context of war, family tragedy, state-sanctioned murder, torture, and rape. He struggles with faith and sectarian violence, before finding enlightenment and peace in a strange weaving of the real and the metaphysical worlds.
Guapa by Saleem Haddad. Other Press, 2016. The strength of the characters in this debut novel makes up for a few small problems in the execution of the plot. One day in the life of a gay man in today’s Middle East, grounded in personal history after his grandmother discovers him with his male lover and his life implodes.
If You Need Me I’ll Be Over There by Dave Madden. Break Away Books, 2016. A variety of short stories that Madden brings to life with relatable specificity and subtleness of everyday life that make the stories feel real. The stories range from a young woman struggling to gain independence to a man choosing faith over love.
The Imitation Game: Alan Turing Decoded by Jim Ottaviani, illustrated by Leland Purvis, Abrams Comic Arts, 2016. A realistic, imaginative, well-drawn graphic novel exploring the life and death of the great mathematician and pioneer of artificial intelligence and computer science, Alan Turing. His incredible feats during and after WWII were overshadowed by his prosecution for being homosexual. As Ottaviani notes, “I wish I lived in a world that benefited from decades more of Alan Turing alive and well, thinking and discovering.”
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. Riverdale Avenue Books, 2016. The coming-of-age story of a young woman learning what it is to be who she is. Lesbian, Puerto Rican, New Yorker Juliet is running to something that isn’t what she expected and running from problems that follow along with her. A great story for anyone who has ever felt that love can’t replace understanding, that understanding comes in ways you never expected, and that heroes are what you make of them.
Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was by Sjón. Translated by Victoria Cribb. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016. In 1918, Reykjavik, Iceland was still an isolated place, but its isolation ended in a war to the south and with the arrival in the port of a Danish ship of the deadly Spanish Flu. Moonstone is a miniature epic about isolation, both geographic and personal. Its protagonist, Máni, lives and survives on silent films, fantasy, and sexual adventures with men met in the shadows.
Our Young Man by Edmund White. Bloomsbury, 2016. A late 20th century Dorian Gray, Guy arrives from small-town France into the world of modeling. His looks are so perfect he demands top fees well into his 30s. White tells his story and the story of the vapid world of fashion at the beginning of the AIDS crisis with a wry sensibility that makes him part of the “gay canon.”
A Thin, Bright Line by Lucy Jane Bledsoe. University of Wisconsin Press, 2016. A fictionalized reimagining of the life of the author’s aunt, Lucybelle Bledsoe is a scientist working during the Cold War. While her skills and knowledge offer her a promising career, her private life as a lesbian may not hold up to government scrutiny.