Adult readers – Making its paperback debut in time for the autumn weather, Rebecca Makkai’s acclaimed third novel The Great Believers (Penguin, 2018/2019), a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times book review’s “Ten best books of 2018,” more than lives up to the hype in the way that it stunningly tells the story of a group of gay friends in Chicago and the impact that AIDS has on them during the 1980s and beyond.
A few years before Rebecca Makkai wrote her loving portrait of the gay community, another straight female novelist, Ann Patchett, created the unforgettable AIDS novel The Magician’s Assistant. Patchett’s new novel, The Dutch House (Harper, 2019 ), set on the outskirts of Philadelphia, follows devoted siblings, Danny and Maeve, “helpless captives” of their “migratory patterns,” from childhood through adulthood, over the course of a series of devastating events.
One of the most talk-about books of the fall Juliet Takes a Breath (Dial, 2019) by Gabby Rivera is the no-holds-barred story of “Puerto Rican baby dyke” Juliet who leaves the Bronx behind and reinvents herself in Portland, Oregon while doing an internship with feminist author Harlowe.
Set against the backdrop of early 2010s’ Occupy Movement, Caleb Crain’s second novel Overthrow (Viking, 2019) is as exhilarating as you might imagine, as grad student Matthew falls for activist Leif and finds himself being swept up in the current of the times.
Moving back and forth in time, from 1816 where Mary Shelley is writing her novel “about a scientist who creates a new life-form” to present day Brexit Britain where transgender doctor Ry Shelley has fallen for professor Victor Stein, a leading expert on AI, lauded lesbian novelist Jeanette Winterson returns with her 11th novel Frankissstein (Grove Press, 2019)
Longlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize, The Man Who Saw Everything (Bloomsbury, 2019) by Deborah Levy takes us back to 1988 where narcissistic, young, bisexual historian Saul Adler’s life is forever changed when he is hit by car while he is waiting to recreate the iconic Beatles’ Abbey Road photo.
The first new Henry Rios mystery novel in 20 years, Carved in Bone (Persigo Press, 2019) by award-winning gay writer Michael Nava, is set in mid-1980s San Francisco and revolves around Rios’ investigation of the death of a man named Bill Ryan.
A debut novel praised by Rebecca Makkai and Garth Greenwell, In West Mills (Bloomsbury) by gay writer De’Shawn Charles Winslow is set in a North Carolina African-American community, from the early 1940s to the late 1980s, focusing on the friendship between Azalea “Knot” Centre and Otis Lee.
High school student Conrad’s relationship with his teacher Sammy is at the center of The History of Living Forever (FSG, 2019) by Jake Wolff, which details a quest to create the elixir of life so Conrad can save the lives of his self-destructive father, as well as his husband, following a brain cancer diagnosis.
When it was first published in 2008, Otherhood (Bloomsbury, 2008 / 2019) by William Sutcliffe, was known as Whatever Makes You Happy, the story of three British mothers who feel forgotten and neglected by their sons on Mother’s Day. Newly retitled as and reissued in a paperback edition to coincide with the Netflix movie of the same name starring Patricia Arquette, Angela Bassett, Felicity Huffman and Jake Lacey (as Huffman’s gay son), which is now set in New York.
Readers who enjoy being scared out of their wits and dug Jac Jemc’s approach to the genre with her haunting novel The Grip of It, are sure to find themselves shaken (in a good way) by her latest, False Bingo: Stories (MCDxFSG Originals, 2019). It’s safe to say you’ve never read a story quite like “Get Back.”
Falling: Stories (University of Wisconsin Press, 2019) is the second short story collection from Lammy and Ferro-Grumley Award-winning writer Trebor Healey. The ten stories feature characters who have lost their way, “figuratively and literally,” and must “confront the profound displacement of modern life.”
Queer writer Elizabeth (Eat, Pray, Love) Gilbert explores female friendships and sexuality, and more, in City of Girls (Riverhead, 2019) over the course of 70 years, from Vassar to Manhattan, in narrator Vivian’s distinctive voice. The book is said to have been written following the death of Gilbert’s girlfriend Rayya Elias.
Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins and Saint Mazie, to name a couple, tells the emotionally brutal and fearless tale of a family coming apart at the seams in All This Could Be Yours (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), her best novel yet.
Young adult readers – “There once was a boy who heard the Whispers,” and so begins the new young-adult novel The Whispers (Putnam, 2019) by gay writer Greg Howard, in which 11-year-old Riley asks the mythical wood creatures known as the Whispers to help with the safe return of his missing mother.
The Midwinter Witch (Graphix / Scholastic) is the third and final book in The Witch Boy graphic novel series by Molly Ostertag. Powered by the “one, consistent message” that “magic has no gender,” the book is set at the time of the Midwinter Festival where Aster and Ariel confront a sinister force that “threatens everything the young witches have fought for.”
Fifty years after a tornado devastated Mercer, a small Illinois town, three teenage friends, including gay Joshua, must work together following the touching down of another tornado in the exact same place in We Speak in Storms (Philomel, 2019) by Natalie Lund.
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.