Pride 2019 is taking on special meaning with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots being incorporated into celebrations across the country. With that in mind, it’s never too early to begin assembling a reading list for the celebration as well as for the summer of 2019. Visit your favorite independent bookseller or the love-it-or-hate-it Amazon.com to reserve and order copies of these forthcoming LGBTQ books for readers of all (rainbow) stripes.
Poetic paths – It’s hard to believe that The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press, 2019) is only the third full-length collection by gay African-American poet Jericho Brown, because he’s such a constant and invigorating presence in the world, but it’s true! A poetic examination of terror, The Tradition incorporates Brown’s literary device known as the duplex, a form that merges the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues.
In the “fore/words” to her new poetry collection Sweet World (CavanKerry Press, 2019), multi-award-winning lesbian poet Maureen Seaton asks the reader for forgiveness for having “mixed up magic with grief, love with terror, light with impenetrable darkness” in these Colorado-created poems written during the “decision-making of breast cancer treatment.”
Described as an exploration of “queer, Asian American femininity,” the “Turing Test-inspired” poems in Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019) by writer/performer/educator Franny Choi are a thrill to behold.
How could a book of collaborative lyric essays by two cherished poets, straight ally Denise Duhamel and lesbian writer Julie Marie Wade, be anything less than supremely poetic? Fiercely feminist, political and personal, The Unrhymables: Collaboration in Prose (Noctuary Press, 2019), including essays based on colors, religion, movies, crossing thresholds, and celebrating inspirational women, it’s the kind of book you read where you learn as much as about the writers as you do about yourself.
Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of legendary “gay poet-preacher” Walt Whitman, Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman (Squares & Rebels, 2019), edited by Raymond Luczak, features the work of 80 (!) gay poets including the aforementioned Jericho Brown, as well as Edmund White, David Trinidad, Bryan Borland, Scott Hightower, Alfred Corn, Felice Picano, Jaime Manrique, and M. J. Arcangelini, to mention a few.
Everything you need to know about LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia (West Virginia University Press, 2019), edited by Jeff Mann & Julia Watts, can be found in the descriptive title. The first of its kind collection features poems by Nickole Brown, Aaron Smith, Dorothy Allison and Kelly McQuain, as well as short stories by Silas House, Fenton Johnson and others.
Told in verse, straight writer Aida Salazar’s debut young-adult book The Moon Within (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, 2019) tells the story of Celi Rivera, whose life “swirls with questions” about her first crush on a boy, the changes taking place in her body and the way her best friend Magda explores gender-fluidity.
Adult books – Original co-founding member of the Violet Quill Club, poet / novelist / memoirist Felice Picano’s new novel Justify My Sins: A Hollywood Novel in Three Acts (Beautiful Dreamer Press, 2018), which incorporates “noted names and events” of the 1970s through the 1990s, is described by the author as “one of the most rational, pleasant, and easy experiences he can recall.”
The latest installment in James Earl Hardy’s B-Boy Blues series, Men of the House (IAJ Books, 2018) tells the story of Brooklyn-based high school senior Raheim, the oldest child of a gay male couple, who has his hands full balancing his relationship with girlfriend Maxine, admissions offers from Ivy League universities and creating an identity for himself.
In The Stars of Locust Ridge (Vivid Imagery, 2018) his third novel since 2017, prolific writer Craig Moody takes us to rural Tennessee (in the Great Smoky Mountains near Dolly Parton’s childhood home) and introduces readers to teenaged Genevieve, in this coming-of-age tale.
Lesbian novelist Nina Revoyr says that her new novel A Student of History (Akashic Book, 2019), “is an LA story, but it is also an American story,” about economic disparity, history and “invisible aristocracy,” all wound around the country’s “complexity and diversity,” as narrator Rick becomes involve with two powerful and irresistible women. Revoyr’s debut novel The Necessary Hunger (Akashic Book, 1997/2019) has been reissued with an introduction by Lynell George.
One of the most eagerly awaited books of the year, Stella Maris & Other Key West Stories (Turtle Point Press, 2019), the second book by award-winning gay writer Michael Carroll, in which he makes the political personal, set in the “beautiful town, Key West, the last bastion, the place of the just-misfits.”
Sexual identity and self-acceptance become a major through-line in Anatomy of a Miracle (Hogarth, 2018/2019), the new novel by Jonathan Miles, featuring the subtitle “The ‘True’ Story of a Paralyzed Veteran, a Mississippi Convenience Store, a Vatican Investigation, and the Spectacular Perils of Grace.” The paperback edition “Extra Libris” edition includes essays, reader’s guides and more.
Beginning in 1912 and continuing into the 21st century, Correspondents (Grove, 2019), the second novel by gay writer/activist Tim Murphy, author of 2016’s brilliant Christodora, is every bit as powerful and epic in breadth and scope.
Straight novelist/ally Elinor Lipman is no stranger to writing about queer characters (read 2009’s The Family Man) and her hilarious and touching new novel, Good Riddance (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019) about the troubles associated from a discarded yearbook and a nosy neighbor, is no exception.
In Nirvana Is Here (Three Rooms Press, 2019) his first novel since 2005’s incredible Faith For Beginners, gay writer Aaron Hamburger follows historian Ari on his quest to reconnect with (straight) high school crush Justin, while also dealing with a crisis involving his ex-husband, all set against the backdrop of “the meteoric rise and fall of the band Nirvana and the #metoo movement.”
A letter from a son, Little Dog, to a mother, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Press, 2019), the debut novel by award-winning gay poet Ocean Vuong, traces the history of a family, from Vietnam to America, and the events that shaped the lives of the characters.
“Set in the glamorous literary and film circles of 1950s Italy,” Leading Men (Viking, 2019), the fourth novel by gay writer Christopher Castellani features Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Williams’ lover Frank Merlo and “legendary film icon Anja Bloom.”
Taylor Saracen joins gay authors St. Sukie de la Croix (Chicago Whispers) and Jim Elledge (The Boys of Fairytown) in exploring the queer past of Chicago’s notorious and openly gay Towertown neighborhood of the 1920s in her novel In the City by the Lake (13 Red Media, 2019).
In Todd Sweeney: The Fiend of Fleet High (Hosta Press, 2019), gay writer David Pratt takes the story of Sweeney Todd in a new and entertaining direction, setting the story in a high school where the titular character, along with pal Nellie Lovett, comes to the rescue of best friend Toby Ragg in an unexpected way.
Gay novelist Henry Alley’s new book Men Touching (Chelsea Station Editions, 2019) is set in 1986, where Seattle-based Vietnam vet Robb attempts to take action regarding his drug addiction as his high-school teacher partner Bart faces the prospect of coming out to his family while dealing with a friend dying of AIDS complications.
The Shape of the Earth (Bold Strokes Books, 2019), the new full-length erotic romance novel by Gary Garth McCann, involves Lenny, the manager of a struggling bookstore, his fidelity issues with Dave, and his flirtation with grad student Ian which threatens to upend everything.
Michael G. Williams has described his science fiction detective novel A Fall in Autumn (Falstaff Books, 2019), set in 9172 and featuring gay protagonist Valerius Bakhoum (“a washed-up private eye and street hustler”) as “a little filthy and a lot of fun.”
For readers of various ages – Celebrations of families with same-gender parents, My Two Dads and Me and My Two Moms and Me (both Doubleday, 2019) by Michael Joosten and Izak Zenou features a variety of kids having breakfast, going to the park, having lunch, enjoying a playdate, going to the pool, eating dinner and reading a bedtime story, all under the watchful eyes of two dads and two moms.
Lesbian poet/novelist Lesléa Newman (author of Heather Has Two Mommies), returns with her latest children’s book Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story (Abrams, 2019), in which the titular character must make the voyage alone, from her old country shtetl to America, with stunning illustrations by Amy June Bates.
The debut young-adult novel by gay poet, novelist and playwright R. Zamora Linmark, The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart (Delacorte Press, 2019), tells the tale of Ken Z, seeking guidance from the late “Oscar Wilde, Patron Saint of Rebels and Bookworms,” in regards to his blossoming love for “beautiful, mysterious Ran.”
Award-winning gay young-adult author Bill Konigsberg’s The Music of What Happens (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2019) is told by “comfortably gay” Max and “never been kissed” Jordan in alternating chapters as their romance buds and they struggle with their own secrets.
How It Feels to Float (Dial, 2019), the debut young-adult novel by Australia-based Helena Fox shares the story of Biz, who “knows how to float, right there on the surface,” while those around her have no idea about her “dark, runaway thoughts,” which include kissing Grace and her desire to bring back her father who died when she was seven.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of Fifty Degrees (Seven Kitchens, 2016), selected by Ching-In Chen as co-winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Prize. Other books by Shapiro include the short story collections How to Whistle (Lethe Press, 2016) and Lincoln Avenue (Squares and Rebels Press, 2014), the chapbook GREGG SHAPIRO: 77 (Souvenir Spoon Press, 2012), and the poetry collection Protection (Gival Press, 2008).
He has work forthcoming in the anthology Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos (Anhinga Press, 2018). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBT and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.