LGBTQIA Fiction

June is Pride Month, which honors the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which served as a catalyst of the modern gay rights movement. At the Topsfield Town Library, to acknowledge the contributions of the LGBTQIA community, we have created this reading guide highlighting excellent LGBTQIA Fiction (from award winners, drama, to mystery, to historical fiction, to comedy, and to romance), and we are highlighting LGBTQIA fiction with our “Pride Picks” shelf-talkers/display during the month of June.

Did you know?

Did you know that we have a new filter where you can search for LGBTQ+ topics exclusively? When visiting our catalog searching for materials, look for the drop down menu on the left side (it defaults as “Everything”) and find “LGBTQ+” in the drop down menu. Your search will only search for items with LGBTQ+ topics as an included subject. Check it out!

What is LGBTQIA fiction?

LGBTQIA fiction includes stories written by and/or for the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual) community.
They involve LGBTQIA characters and themes.

Other Places to Look

Find nonfiction books on the second floor, including LGBTQIA memoirs, history, and politics.
The Children’s Room has stories about LGBTQIA youth, as well as “teaching books” about inclusion, families, and gender.
The Young Adult section has a large and growing selection of books about LGBTQIA teens.

Check These Titles Out!

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born–a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam–and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

The sudden and powerful attraction between a teenage boy and a summer guest at his parents’ house on the Italian Riviera has a profound and lasting influence that will mark them both for a lifetime.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. After an altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse. Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all?

White Houses by Amy Bloom

Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt’s first presidential campaign. She is not instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. As their connection deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death.

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

The story of the dangerous first love of two young men: Mungo and James. Born under different stars–Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic–they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Against all odds Mungo and James become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong, while Mungo works hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his big brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. But the threat of discovery is constant and the punishment unspeakable. And when several months later Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland, together with two strange men whose drunken banter belies murky pasts, he will need to summon all his inner strength and courage to try to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future.

Summer Fun by Jeanne Thornton

Gala, a young trans woman, works at a hostel in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. She is obsessed with the Get Happies, the quintessential 1960s Californian band, helmed by its resident genius, B—-. Why did the band stop making music? Why did they never release their rumored album, Summer Fun? Gala writes letters to B—- that shed light not only on the Get Happies, but paint an extraordinary portrait of Gala. The parallel narratives of B—- and Gala form a dialogue about creation-of music, identity, self, culture, and counterculture. Summer Fun is an epic and magical work of trans literature that marks Thornton as one of our most exciting and original novelists.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers (Coming Soon to the Library)

A large, strange, and devastatingly touching anthology of science fiction and fantasy from transgender authors was released onto the world. The collection received rave acclaim and won the ALA Stonewall Book Award Barbara Gittings Literature Award. When its original publisher went out of business, the book fell out of print, and LittlePuss Press is now pleased to bring this title back to life for a new audience of readers.

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Ijeoma, a young Nigerian girl displaced during her country’s civil war, begins a powerful love affair with another refugee girl from a different ethnic community. When the pair are discovered, she must learn the cost of living a lie amidst taboos and prejudices. Even as her nation contends with and recovers from the effects of war and division, Ijeoma seeks a glimmer of hope for a future where a woman might just be able to shape her life around truth and love.

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels

Small-town Appalachia doesn’t have a lot going for it, but it’s where Brian is from, where his family is, and where he’s chosen to return to die. At eighteen, Brian, like so many other promising young gay men, arrived in New York City without much more than a love for the freedom and release from his past that it promised. But within six short years, AIDS would claim his lover, his friends, and his future. With nothing left in New York but memories of death, Brian decides to write his mother a letter asking to come back to the place, and family, he was once so desperate to escape.

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters

Reese had what previous generations of trans women could only dream of; the only thing missing was a child. Then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Ames thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese, and losing her meant losing his only family. Then Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she is pregnant with his baby– and is not sure whether she wants to keep it. Ames wonders: Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family, and raise the baby together?

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road. One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.” Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined.

Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall

Valentine Layton, the Duke of Malvern, has twin problems: literally. It was always his father’s hope that Valentine would marry Miss Arabella Tarleton. But, unfortunately, too many novels at an impressionable age have caused her to grow up… romantic. So romantic that a marriage of convenience will not do and after Valentine’s proposal she flees into the night determined never to set eyes on him again. Arabella’s twin brother, Mr. Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, has also grown up… romantic. And fully expects Valentine to ride out after Arabella and prove to her that he’s not the cold-hearted cad he seems to be. Despite copious misgivings, Valentine finds himself on a pell-mell chase to Dover with Bonny by his side. Bonny is unreasonable, overdramatic, annoying, and… beautiful? And being with him makes Valentine question everything he thought he knew. About himself. About love. Even about which Tarleton he should be pursuing.

My Life in Transition: a Super late bloomer collection by Julia Kaye

The follow-up to the critically acclaimed autobiographical comics collection Super Late Bloomer, documenting transgender artist Julia Kaye’s life post-transition.

Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander

A high-strung pastry chef’s professional goals are interrupted by an unexpected career transition and the introduction of her wildly attractive nonbinary kitchen manager.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

A century after the macabre deaths of several students at a New England girls’ boarding school, the release of a sensational book on the school’s history inspires a horror film adaptation that renews suspicions of a curse when the cast and crew arrive at the long-abandoned building.

With Teeth by Kristen Arnett

If she’s being honest, Sammie Lucas is scared of her son. Working from home in the close quarters of their Florida house, she lives with one wary eye peeled on Samson, a sullen, unknowable boy who resists her every attempt to bond with him. Uncertain in her own feelings about motherhood, she tries her best–driving, cleaning, cooking, prodding him to finish projects for school–while growing increasingly resentful of Monika, her confident but absent wife. As Samson grows from feral toddler to surly teenager, Sammie’s life begins to deteriorate into a mess of unruly behavior, and her struggle to create a picture-perfect queer family unravels. When her son’s hostility finally spills over into physical aggression, Sammie must confront her role in the mess–and the possibility that it will never be clean again. Blending the warmth and wit of Arnett’s breakout hit, Mostly Dead Things, with a candid take on queer family dynamics, With Teeth is a thought-provoking portrait of the delicate fabric of family–and the many ways it can be torn apart.

The House of Impossible Beauties by Joseph Cassara

1980, New York City. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, new to ball culture, and has a yearning inside of her to help create family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit. But when Hector dies of AIDS-related complications, Angel must tend to their house alone. She recruits Venus, a whip-fast trans girl who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her; Juanito, a quiet boy who loves fabrics and design; and Daniel, a butch queen who accidentally saves Venus’s life. The Xtravaganzas lean on each other as bulwarks against a world that resists them.

Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Now that Margot Cooper’s entire crew has found “the one” and she’s beginning to feel like a fifth wheel. While touring a wedding venue with her engaged friends, Margot comes face-to-face with her first love, Olivia Grant. When a series of unfortunate events leaves Olivia without a place to stay, Margot offers up her spare room. Will their checkered past repeat itself or should Margot count her lucky stars that she gets a second chance with her first love?

Award Winners

Stonewall Awards: The Barbara Gittings Literature Award

The Barbara Gittings Literature Award is awarded by the American Library Association for “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.” 

2022 Winner

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
Vern is fifteen and pregnant when she escapes from the compound of the Blessed Acres of Cain into the surrounding forest. She gives birth while being hunted by someone—or something—that seems able to locate her with uncanny ease, but manages to remain free. With her twins, Howling and Feral, Vern survives in the woods for years as her body hardens and strengthens far beyond human limitations, though she is also haunted by visions of Cainites past and present. When the hunter resurfaces, the small family is forced to follow a long-cold trail through unknown territory toward someone from Vern’s past. Even as they navigate the new wilderness of highways, strangers, and capitalism to find a safe haven, Vern’s body continues its slow and painful transformation into a wondrous armored form, capable of amazing feats. With the aid of new allies and an understanding of the truth behind the Blessed Acres of Cain, Vern must confront those responsible for concocting a twisted science experiment in the guise of a religious Black nationalist enclave. (Booklist)

2021 Winner

The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar
Five years after a suspicious fire killed his mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost has begun to visit him each evening. The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria. One night, he finds the tattered journal of a Syrian American artist named Laila Z. She famously and mysteriously disappeared more than sixty years before, but her journal contains proof that Laila Z’s past is intimately tied to his mother’s – and his grandmother’s – in ways he never could have expected. Even more surprising, Laila Z’s story reveals the histories of queer and transgender people within his community that he never knew. Following his mother’s ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along. The Thirty Names of Night is an imaginative and intimate exploration of how we all search for and ultimately embrace who we are.

2020 Winner

Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis
A revolutionary new novel about five wildly different women who, in the midst of the Uruguayan dictatorship, find each other as lovers, friends, and ultimately, family. In 1977 Uruguay, a military government has crushed political dissent with ruthless force. In an environment where citizens are kidnapped, raped, and tortured, homosexuality is a dangerous transgression. And yet, despite such societal realities, Romina, Flaca, Anita “La Venus,” Paz, and Malena–five cantoras, women who “sing”–somehow, miraculously, find each other and discover an isolated cape, Cabo Polonio, inhabited by just a lonely lighthouse keeper and a few rugged seal hunters. They claim this place as their secret sanctuary. Over the next 35 years, their lives move back and forth between Cabo Polonio and Montevideo, the city they call home, as they return, sometimes together, sometimes in pairs, with lovers in tow, or alone. Throughout it all, the women will be tested repeatedly–by their families, lovers, society, and each other–as they fight to live authentic lives. A genre-defining novel and De Robertis’s masterpiece, Cantoras is a breathtaking portrait of queer love, community, forgotten history, and the strength of the human spirit. De Robertis has written a novel that is at once timeless and groundbreaking–a tale about the fire in all our souls and those who make it burn.

2019 Winner

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
A dazzling new novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris, by the acclaimed and award-winning author Rebecca Makkai In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister. Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

The Lambda Awards

The Lambda Literary Awards (or “Lammys”) have maintained a proud tradition of celebrating vibrant, dynamic LGBTQ storytelling. By clicking on the link, it will take you to the item record, where you can read summaries of each book. All items are available at the Topsfield Town Library, or on order and arriving to our shelves soon.

Best Transgender Fiction

2021: The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar
2020: Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante; Coming Soon to the Topsfield Town Library
2019: Little Fish by Casey Plett

Best Lesbian Fiction

2021: Fiebre Tropical by Juliana Delgado Lopera
2020: Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
2019: The Tiger Flu by Larissa Lai

Best Gay Fiction

2021: Neotenica by Joon Oluchi Lee; Coming Soon to the Topsfield Town Library
2020: Lot by Bryan Washington
2019: Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Best Bisexual Fiction

2021: You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
2020: Exquisite Mariposa by Fiona Alison Duncan
2019: Disoriental by Négar Djavadi
Right Menu Icon