Marginalized figures take center stage in these novels by LGBTQ authors and about queer characters. The books include an African-American family saga, a transgender coming-of-age novel, and an epistolary mediation on masculinity and the immigrant experience.
Alex Myers. Univ. of New Orleans, Nov.
At age 19, Ron Bancroft comes out as transgender, is shunned by his family, and moves to Wyoming to start a new life. There he encounters natural beauty but also bigotry and violence, as well as love. Myers writes about transgender issues from experience: he began his transition in high school and was the first openly transgender student at Harvard University.
Tommy Pico. Tin House, Nov.
The fourth installment of Pico’s Teebs tetralogy sees its protagonist walking New York City’s High Line and meditating on queer relationships, loneliness, and the environment, among other topics. Pico, a contributing editor at the online magazine Literary Hub and a Whiting Award recipient, was nominated for the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry for his collection Junk.
The Future of Another Timeline
Annalee Newitz. Tor, Sept.
The sophomore novel by io9 cofounder Newitz imagines a world in which time travel has always existed. PW’s starred review called the book, which stars a misogyny-fighting geologist, “mind-rattling.” Newitz’s debut, Autonomous (Tor, 2017), won the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for LGBTQ Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.
Like This Afternoon Forever
Jaime Manrique. Akashic, June
Against the backdrop of guerrilla warfare in Colombia, two young men fall in love while studying to become Catholic priests. Manrique, a recipient of Colombia’s National Poetry Award as well as a Guggenheim fellowship, weaves into his story the “false positives” scandal, in which members of the Colombian military sought to drum up the number of guerilla fighters they’d killed by murdering and misidentifying innocent civilians.
The Man Who Saw Everything
Deborah Levy. Bloomsbury, Oct.
Levy explores the slippery boundary between masculinity and femininity in a novel about a bisexual historian doing research in Communist East Berlin. Levy has twice been nominated for the Man Booker Prize, most recently for her novel Hot Milk (Bloomsbury, 2016).
Mostly Dead Things
Kristen Arnett. Tin House, June
In her debut novel, queer essayist and short fiction writer Arnett tells the story of a woman who must take over her family’s taxidermy business after her father kills himself. The protagonist is mourning another loss, too—that of her brother’s ex-wife, with whom she was in love.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
Ocean Vuong. Penguin Press, June
Vuong, a gay Vietnamese-American poet, won the T.S. Eliot prize for his collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon, 2016) and is a recipient of the Whiting Award. His first novel, which PW’s review called “haunting,” takes the form of a letter written by a son to his illiterate mother, touching on sexuality, immigration, drug addiction, and masculinity.
Caleb Crain. Viking, Sept.
Crain considers the Occupy Wall Street movement in the follow-up to his debut novel, Necessary Errors (Penguin, 2013). The protagonist, a gay graduate student, befriends a group of activists who hope to use their esoteric and somewhat mystical philosophy to help the protestors in Zuccotti Park.
Paris, 7 a.m.
Liza Wieland. Simon & Schuster, June
Poet Elizabeth Bishop kept a diary of her travels in Europe during her twenties, but there’s a three-week gap in her account of her time in France. Wieland, in a book PW’s starred review praised for its “striking imagery and sharp, distinctive language,” imagines what happened during that time, using the lacuna to think about how Bishop, who was a lesbian, developed artistically and sexually.
Nicole Dennis-Benn. Liveright, June
Jamaican writer Dennis-Benn’s debut novel, Here Comes the Sun (Liveright, 2016), won the 2017 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction. In her second novel, she tells the story of a young Jamaican mother who leaves her daughter to follow the woman she loves to New York. PW’s review described the book as “wrenching.”
Red at the Bone
Jacqueline Woodson. Riverhead, Sept.
In her third novel for adults, Woodson, who won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin/Paulsen, 2014), relates an African-American family saga that turns on an unexpected pregnancy. Iris leaves her daughter with the child’s father to attend college, where she embarks on a relationship with another woman.