2019 marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots, a series of spontaneous riots between the LGBT community and the NYPD in response to law enforcement raids on LGBTQ clubs and spaces. Marcia P. Johnson famously threw the first brick at Stonewall, which is considered the most important event in the struggle for LGBTQ rights and acceptance in the USA.
To celebrate half a century since this historic event and to celebrate the work of the many LGBTQIA+ artists, activists, and advocates that have brought so much to the fight for equality, we’ve put together a list of five amazing books by LGBTQI+ authors coming out this year for you to look forward to.
1. The fourth courier by timothy jay smith
Publishers Weekly says that Timothy Jay Smith’s latest novel, The Fourth Courier, possesses “Sharply drawn characters, rich dialogue, and a clever conclusion bode well for any sequel.” Booklist notes how “Smith skillfully bridges police procedural and espionage fiction, crafting a show-stealing sense of place and realistically pairing the threats of underworld crime and destabilized regimes.” Timothy Jay Smith is a proud member of the LGBTQ community, who is passionate about exploring these themes in his work, which has garnered him countless accolades. His book Fire on the Island was the winner of the 2017 the Gold Medal in the Faulkner-Wisdom Competition for the Novel. Smith also won the Paris Prize for Fiction for his debut work, A Vision of Angels. Smith has also been nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize for short fiction, and his screenplays have won numerous international competitions, as well as holding the title of founder of the Smith Prize for Political Theater. Phew!
On the 30th anniversary of the victory of Solidarity in Poland and the fall of the Berlin Wall, comes a riveting new novel set in Poland on the brink of change, THE FOURTH COURIER .
Smith sets his novel in 1992 in post-cold war Poland, where nothing is quite as it seems. When three execution-style murders take place in Warsaw, FBI Special Agent Jay Porter is assigned to help with the investigation, suspecting that the three victims may have been couriers hired to smuggle nuclear material out of the defunct Soviet Union.
When Jay learns that a Russian physicist who designed a portable atomic bomb has also disappeared, the race is on to find him—and the bomb—before it ends up in the wrong hands.
Suspenseful, thrilling, and smart, THE FOURTH COURIER teams up an FBI agent with a gay CIA officer who uncover a gruesome plot involving murder, radioactive contraband, narcissistic government leaders, and unconscionable greed.
2. IN SEARCH OF STONEWALL: The Riots at 50, The Gay & Lesbian Review at 25, Best Essays, 1994-2018. a collection of essays edited by Richard Schneider Jr.
The San Francisco Chronicle “highly” recommends this compilation of essays on the Stonewall Riots and their effect on society, as well as celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, calling In Search of Stonewall “an important addition to the literature about the LGBT movement and more: this is a selection of excellent writings by significant authors who helped shape history. Essential reading for anyone interested in the history of LGBT rights, and the perfect book to celebrate the anniversary of this monumental event.
The year was 1994. It was the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and, as luck would have it, the year in which a new magazine called The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review was publishing its first issue (Winter ’94). The fact that The G&LR’s first year coincided with Stonewall’s 25th forever joined its fate with that of the founding event of the modern LGBT movement. This book commemorates the magazine’s 25th birthday with a collection of relevant articles culled from its 136 issues.
The list of contributors includes: Dennis Altman, David B. Boyce, Michael Bronski, Frank Browning, David Carter, John D’Emilio, Steven F. Dansky, Michael Denneny, Martin Duberman, Lilian Faderman, D. Gilson, Eve Goldberg, Jewelle Gomez, Harry Hay, Amy Hoffman, Andrew Holleran, Karla Jay, Jill Johnston, Arnie Kantrowitz, Dolores Klaich, Larry Kramer, Toby Marotta, Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon, Felice Picano, John Rechy, Will Roscoe, Ellen Shumsky, Bob Smith, Timothy Stewart-Winter, Martha Stone, Edmund White.
3. Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story by Jacob Tobia
Named a Most Anticipated Book by HelloGiggles, PopSugar, SheReads, A.V. Club, Pride.com, The Daily Utah Chronicle, Read It Forward, Ms. Magazine, and Eligible, Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story has been garnering rave reviews from every lucky soul who has got their hands on it. Tyler Oakley dubs it it “Sensational“, Good Morning American calls Jacob Tobia “a force,” while TIME calls him ‘a necessary voice”. The Washington Post says the book is “a valuable dispatch from a new generation of queer activists and artists.”
A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it’s like to grow up not sure if you’re (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above.
From the moment a doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina, put “male” on Jacob Tobia’s birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside “male” came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, words like “masculine” and “aggressive” and “cargo shorts” and “SPORTS!”
Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label “sissy.” In the two decades that followed, “sissy” joined forces with “gay,” “trans,” “nonbinary,” and “too-queer-to-function” to become a source of pride and, today, a rallying cry for a much-needed gender revolution. Through revisiting their childhood and calling out the stereotypes that each of us have faced, Jacob invites us to rethink what we know about gender and offers a bold blueprint for a healed world–one free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism.
From Jacob’s Methodist childhood and the hallowed halls of Duke University to the portrait-laden parlors of the White House, Sissy takes you on a gender odyssey you won’t soon forget. Writing with the fierce honesty, wildly irreverent humor, and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into “men” and “women.” Sissy guarantees that you’ll never think about gender–both other people’s and your own–the same way again.
4. Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer by John Glynn
I would trust basically anything author of phenomenon Call Me By Your Name Andre Aciman says, and trust him I do, when he says the following regarding Glynn’s coming-out memoir: “This boisterous chronicle of a summer in Montauk sees a group of twenty-something housemates who’ll grow to know, to love, and care for one another. They work hard during the week, party hard on weekends, and each will face heartthrob and heartbreak. A coming out story told with feeling and humor and above all with the razor-sharp skill of a delicate and highly gifted writer.” Out East is released May 19th.
They call Montauk the end of the world, a spit of land jutting into the Atlantic. The house was a ramshackle split-level set on a hill, and each summer thirty one people would sleep between its thin walls and shag carpets. Against the moonlight the house’s octagonal roof resembled a bee’s nest. It was dubbed The Hive.
In 2013, John Glynn joined the share house. Packing his duffel for that first Memorial Day Weekend, he prayed for clarity. At 27, he was crippled by an all-encompassing loneliness, a feeling he had carried in his heart for as long as he could remember. John didn’t understand the loneliness. He just knew it was there. Like the moon gone dark.
OUT EAST is the portrait of a summer, of the Hive and the people who lived in it, and John’s own reckoning with a half-formed sense of self. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, The Hive was a center of gravity, a port of call, a home. Friendships, conflicts, secrets and epiphanies blossomed within this tightly woven friend group and came to define how they would live out the rest of their twenties and beyond. Blending the sand-strewn milieu of George Howe Colt’s The Big House, the radiant aching of Olivia Liang’s The Lonely City, OUT EAST is a keenly wrought story of love and transformation, longing and escape in our own contemporary moment.
5. Willa & Hesper by Amy Feltman
Kirkus Reviews has called Feltman’s debut a “deep and intimate portrait of two queer women in their mid-twenties who come of age in New York while navigating—or refusing to navigate—their relationships to privilege, family, identity, and faith….”, noting that is is “a moving glimpse into 21st-century queer womanhood.” Publishers Weekly declare it a “thoughtful and fascinating debut,” in which Feltman “skillfully weaves glimmers of hope and healing throughout, making for a keenly perceptive novel.” Check out the synopsis:
For fans of What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell and The Futures by Anna Pitoniak, a soul-piercing debut that explores the intertwining of past and present, queerness, and coming of age in uncertain times.
Willa’s darkness enters Hesper’s light late one night in Brooklyn. Theirs is a whirlwind romance until Willa starts to know Hesper too well, to crawl into her hidden spaces, and Hesper shuts her out. She runs, following her fractured family back to her grandfather’s hometown of Tbilisi, Georgia, looking for the origin story that he is no longer able to tell. But once in Tbilisi, cracks appear in her grandfather’s history-and a massive flood is heading toward Georgia, threatening any hope for repair.
Meanwhile, heartbroken Willa is so desperate to leave New York that she joins a group trip for Jewish twentysomethings to visit Holocaust sites in Germany and Poland, hoping to override her emotional state. When it proves to be more fraught than home, she must come to terms with her past-the ancestral past, her romantic past, and the past that can lead her forward.
Told from alternating perspectives, and ending in the shadow of Trump’s presidency, WILLA & HESPER is a deeply moving, cerebral, and timely debut