It’s Pride Month so together with the team at Damian Barr's Literary Salon, we’ve put together a special reading list celebrating LGBTQ+ voices and stories. Some of the writers have appeared at the Salon and others are folks we’d loved to welcome. The stories are as diverse as our community and we hope they inspire and uplift you.
Robert Jones Jr.£18.98 £17.65
The Prophets is one of THE novels of the year: a beautifully written work of fiction about two black teenage slaves in a forbidden relationship on a plantation in 19th century Mississippi. This story of black, queer love is a must-read. A multi-layered novel you’ll want to sit with to fully appreciate all the thought that’s gone into it.
Bethan Roberts£8.99 £8.36
Marion loves Tom. Tom loves Marion. Tom also loves Patrick who very much loves him back but as for Patrick and Marion… Their story is set in 1950’s Brighton, now Britain’s LGBTQ+ capital, but then only nascently liberal. There’s love and romance but there’s also shame and betrayal. By being so painfully honest, it makes you think again about what it means to open your heart to another. I absolutely loved this book and I was thrilled to hear that it’s being made into a film starring Harry Styles, Emma Corrin and David Dawson. Definitely worth a read – or reread – while we wait for the film!
Ruth Coker Burks£16.98 £15.79
In 1986, 26-year-old Ruth visits a friend in hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. While there she notices the door to one patient’s room is painted red. The nurses are afraid to go in. Why? Ruth enters the quarantined space and finds a young man who cries for his mother in his final moments. Ruth’s life changes forever. All The Young Men is her memoir of what follows - a gripping and triumphant tale of compassion. It’s the true story of a young, single mother who finds herself at the forefront of the AIDS crisis, risking everything to restore humanity to those the virus and prejudice seek to destroy.
Alexander Chee£12.99 £12.08
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel was named a Best Book of 2018 by TIME, Washington Post, and buzzfeed, among others. Chee is also the author of the award-winning novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night. In his interconnected essays he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover and a friend. By turns commanding, heartbreaking and wry, his essays asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and art, and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.
Alice Walker£8.99 £8.36
This book will break your heart. I don’t mean, you’ll weep gently into a pillow - you will scream with rage and shake your fists at the heavens at the injustice of it all. Set in 1930s Georgia and written as a series of letters from Celie to her sister Nettie, who has been banished to an unnamed country in Africa to become a missionary, this searing novel shows how cruel life could be for African-American women there and then. Written in Celie’s voice and her idiom, it was pioneering and I still can’t quite believe I was taught it at school. What’s striking (or depressing) is how contemporary the violence and resistance feels. Black lives mattered then and now.
Sarah Schulman£8.99 £8.36
First published in 1990, this incredible novel follows a love triangle in New York during the AIDS crisis. We meet Kate, her husband Peter and Molly, the woman Kate is having an affair with over a summer when Molly becomes involved in an activist group fighting for people with AIDS. The three face their relationships, sexuality, politics, life and death.
Ocean Vuong£8.99 £8.36
A breath-taking debut novel written as a letter from a young Vietnamese man to his illiterate mother. He tell us about the history of his family in Vietnam and the US and his own coming-of-age story. Vuong’s writing is poetic, a novel that reflects his own life and will keep you hooked.
Melissa Broder£16.98 £15.79
A story of food, sex and religion, in Milk Fed we meet two young Jewish woman, one Orthodox, the other Reform, brought together over frozen yoghurt and desire. It’s a funny, intimate, coming-of-age story about love, and family.
Buki Papillon£14.99 £13.94
A powerful story about complex desires, the challenges of family, identity, gender and culture, in which Oto, forced to live as a boy despite their belief that they are a girl, escapes their home and searches for truth and freedom.
Thomas Page McBee£9.99 £9.29
Thomas Page McBee was the first trans man to fight in a boxing match at Madison Square Garden. In sharing his story, he examines male violence, gender stereotypes and the limitations of conventional masculinity. Amateur is an inspiring story of hope through the eyes of a new man.