The Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books of 2022
Hanya Yanagihara, Edmund White, and Newcomer Edgar Gomez are among those with forthcoming titles
A few years ago, I found myself a bit tipsy at the National Book Award ceremony. It was my first—and so far, only—time there. The experience felt grand; it was a red-carpeted “benefit dinner” on Wall Street. People wore tuxedos and gowns. I couldn’t look around the room without seeing a writer I admired: Dorothy Allison, Rigoberto González, Sarah Broom, Jericho Brown. Between bites of buffet-table bread, I sat there staggered that I had somehow ended up in queer literary heaven.
LeVar Burton, the man who’d helped me and many others my age become serious readers, was hosting, and that year another living legend was set to receive a medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters: author Edmund White. In his wry acceptance speech—preceded by an introduction from filmmaker John Waters who called White a “literary top”—White discussed the struggle of having tried to publish gay fiction pre-Stonewall and even many decades later; how his work was rejected for being both too explicit and too subtle, stating that the “familiar is more threatening than the exotic”; and how it “only” took him half a century to go from one of the most maligned writers in American letters to being honored. The brief speech ended, of course, by acknowledging how far the publishing industry has come both on the page and on stage.
Listening to him say this in such a hallowed hall had a profound impact. I got goosebumps, as if my body was a barometer detecting a change in the literary landscape. I felt it again a few weeks ago, when Malinda Lo won the National Book Award for her lesbian YA novel, Last Night at the Telegraph Club. And I still feel it, writing this. We’re queer and we’re here. (That my own novel, We Do What We Do in the Dark, is coming out in the midst of this exciting shift is surreal.)
Edmund White is one of thirty-six authors on this list who has a book publishing in the first half of 2022. Other big names include Melissa Febos, Hanya Yanagihara, Booker winner Douglas Stuart, Pulitzer Prize winner Kathryn Schulz, Tony Award-winning actor Harvey Fierstein, and game-changing politician Danica Roem. And that’s not even counting the slew of really exciting debuts. There are stories about wedding planners, photographers, aspiring chefs, florists, lucha libre wrestlers, and social media mavens. To channel Edmund White, there’s both the familiar and the exotic. To channel LeVar Burton, 2022 presents a veritable reading rainbow of queer books. And to quote Malinda Lo from her powerful acceptance speech: the growth in LGBTQ+ books has been incredible, “but the opposition to our stories has also grown. This year, schools across the country are facing significant right-wing pressure to remove books about people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and especially transgender people from classrooms and libraries.” Of course, 2022 is a crucial election year. As Lo reminds readers, “we need your support to keep our stories on the shelves. Don’t let them erase us.”
All of You Every Single One by Beatrice Hitchman (Jan. 4)
Fans of Sarah Waters’ historical dramas should take note of this sweeping story set in Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, in which Julia, a married woman, runs off with her tailor, Eve, leaving behind the comfort and safety of wealth for the bohemian freedom of life on her own terms.
Fiona and Jane by Jean Chen Ho (Jan. 4)
Spanning nearly thirty years, Jean Chen Ho’s linked story cycle centers on the ever-evolving relationship between two best friends as they weather the hard-partying highs and the lonesome lows of youth, the comforts and frustrations of filial duty, and the often-baffling search for some semblance of stability.
High-Risk Homosexual: A Memoir by Edgar Gomez (Jan. 11)
From his uncle’s cockfighting ring in Nicaragua to gay bars and bedrooms, Gomez’s lionhearted memoir chronicles coming of age as a queer, Latinx person, wrestling with a mindset that at once embraces and rejects the trappings of machismo, navigating love and lust in the time of PrEP, and learning how to redefine (and reclaim) pride.
To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara (Jan. 11)
The author of the titanic, tectonic-shifting A Little Life returns with another Big Novel, spanning from the 1890s to the 2090s in alternative versions of New York. Many of the hallmarks of Yanagihara’s past work are here: illness, liberation, finding moments of brightness among the bleakness, quiet lives lived among the overwhelming din of sociopolitical strife.
Lost & Found: A Memoir by Kathryn Schulz (Jan. 11)
Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker writer Kathryn Schulz sets her inquisitive memoir at the intersection of parental death and romantic love, as the passing of her beloved father coincided with meeting, just eighteen months earlier, the woman she would eventually marry. Yet this is not simply an autobiography or an elegy; as the book’s title suggests, Schulz wondrously explores the myriad ways we process fortune and misfortune.
Sticker by Henry Hoke (Jan. 13)
Hoke’s keenly constructed memoir-in-essays is really a memoir-in-stickers, from the glow-in-the-dark stars and coveted Lisa Frank unicorns of childhood to a Pixies decal from his teenage years. The book also peels back the complicated notoriety of the author’s hometown, Charlottesville, Virginia, juxtaposing Dave Matthews’ fire dancer emblem against a truck emblazoned with the words “Are You Triggered?” on its back window heralding the infamous white supremacist march.
Love and Other Disasters by Anita Kelly (Jan. 18)
Dahlia is a sweet-natured divorcée looking to start over after her failed marriage; London is a salty curmudgeon with a marshmallow heart. The two of them meet as competitors on the set of the cooking show Chef’s Special, and the simmering tension between them begins to boil as the competition heats up. Add to this the fact that London, the program’s first nonbinary contestant, has decided to come out on air—to the public, yes, but also to their father, who hasn’t been the most accepting—and you’ve got the recipe for a delectable, emotionally stirring romance.
And the Category Is…: Inside New York’s Vogue, House, and Ballroom Community by Ricky Tucker (Jan. 25)
Combining fly-on-the-wall reportage, personal experience, archival research, and art criticism, educator and Lambda Literary fellow Ricky Tucker casts a prismatic light on the Ballroom subculture, cultural knowledge of which can so often be a dance between appreciation and appropriation. With kinetically poetic prose, Tucker pries Ballroom’s past and present from white capitalist hands and allows it to be told by the community’s queer and trans BIPOC innovators, offering “a blueprint for the marginalized to find artistic, personal, and professional grounding in a groundless world. It is an observance of struggle and an offering of freedom.”
Perpetual West by Mesha Maren (Jan. 25)
With her debut Sugar Run, Mesha Maren heralded herself as a highest-order storyteller of Southern noir, a chronicler of queer Appalachia. Here, a young married couple moves to El Paso, Texas, so Alex, the husband, can study the sociocultural significance of lucha libre wrestling; but after he falls in love with the fighter he’s profiling and then goes missing, it’s up to Elana—his wife, harboring secrets of her own—to find him.
A Previous Life by Edmund White (Jan. 25)
The 2019 recipient of the National Book Foundation’s medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters goes meta with this intriguing and inventive novel about a husband and wife who decide to confess all their past sexual escapades, including, on the husband’s part, a love affair with writer Edmund White.
Open: An Uncensored Memoir of Love, Liberation, and Non-Monogamy by Rachel Krantz (Jan. 25)
Provocative and candid, this memoir by a founding editor of Bustle examines some of the pains and pleasures of non-monogamous partnership. Fusing autobiography and cultural analysis, Krantz lays herself bare in order to ask questions about sexual agency, bodily autonomy, queerness, and that insidiously thin line between what we want and what we have been conditioned to want.
Manywhere by Morgan Thomas (Jan. 25)
After an anxious misunderstanding, a trans office worker pretends to be pregnant, a white lie that starts to spiral out of control—especially when she purchases an artificial belly bump—and yet becomes “not a false thing” but a “thing that served its own purpose, parallel to pregnancy, not a ghost of it, a different thing altogether.” Elsewhere, an intersex person forsakes a romantic relationship and embarks upon a transatlantic boat ride to pursue a historical figure who they hope will unlock a better understanding of their own self. Comic and melancholy, Thomas’ debut collection (read an excerpt here) is about people preoccupied with their inchoate desires, wanting to feel a sense of arrival with no fixed destination.
Anonymous Sex, edited by Hillary Jordan and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (Feb. 1)
Featuring stories by Helen Oyeyemi, Meredith Talusan, Edmund White, and many others, this kinky collection of short fiction feels appropriately like a game, an anthology in which the selections are stripped of authorial attribution, leaving readers blindfolded as they make their way through the book.
Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur (Feb. 1)
A rising—ahem—star in the romance world, Bellefleur continues the semi-linked series that began with the bestselling Written in the Stars with this page-turner about a wedding planner fated to confront the one that got away—when the latter turns out to be the Best Woman in the wedding party the former is organizing.
Please Miss: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Penis by Grace Lavery (Feb. 8)
Subtitled “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Penis,” activist Grace Lavery’s unabashed and tantalizing book queers the memoir genre in multiple senses, taking readers on a wild ride through the author’s multitudinous identities.
Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake (Feb. 22)
The titular heroine of this deviously fun rom-com is a New York photographer desperate for her big break who receives a lucrative offer to take pictures at her estranged stepsister’s wedding. Unable to pass up the big paycheck, Delilah heads back to her hometown in Oregon, where she bumps into Claire, once a member of her stepsister’s mean-girl clique in high school. Claire is also the Maid of Honor in the wedding, and Delilah, a city-hardened heartbreaker, hatches a plan to seduce Claire and ruin her stepsister’s upcoming nuptials.
Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman (Feb. 22)
Lambda Award-winning author Isaac Fellman’s second novel features a tenderhearted romance between the widow of a beloved television writer and a trans vampire archivist—sold? Confessions of the Fox author Jordy Rosenberg calls it “a moving and provocative novel, that caresses the decay nibbling at the hard edges of postmodern officescapes, exposing a sexy, neurotic, cinematic vampire love story bubbling up from the ruins.”
I’m So (Not) Over You by Kosoko Jackson (Feb. 22)
Fake dating is one of the most reliably compelling romance tropes around, one Kosoko Jackson utilizes in all its angsty splendor in this comedy about exes who pretend to still be seeing one another as they attend a big-deal wedding—an event that has huge implications for both men.
Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin (Feb. 22)
Felker-Martin’s post-apocalyptic white-knuckler pulls no punches, an audacious dystopian story—think The Road by way of David Cronenberg—about trans people trying to survive and thrive in a world beset by a plague that has turned those with elevated testosterone levels feral. This is destined to be one of the year’s most talked-about novels.
The Verifiers by Jane Pek (Feb. 22)
By night, Claudia Li comforts herself with cozy mystery novels, which also help her bond with her otherwise hard-to-please immigrant mother; by day, she works for a clandestine agency as a kind of “dating detective,” helping clients obtain information on potential lovers, hunting down people who’ve ghosted them on various apps. When a new client turns out to be lying about their identity, it forces Claudia to investigate her own. Pek’s first novel is a whip-smart and super charming techno thriller that feels at once contemporary and classic.
I Was Better Last Night: A Memoir by Harvey Fierstein (Mar. 1)
In this dishy memoir, the raucous Tony Award-winning actor, playwright, and gay icon reveals the trials and triumphs behind some of showbiz’s most indelible productions and performances. Past all the hairspray and glamorous stagecraft is a touching story of what it means to live against the grain.
Girls Can Kiss Now: Essays by Jill Gutowitz (Mar. 8)
To be queer is to have a love-hate relationship with pop culture; we yearn to see ourselves reflected in media, sometimes even just a tiny glimpse, but that mirror can also so often distort. And where once we were all but invisible, on-screen depictions of female queerness now abound. Into this amusing ubiquity steps internet comedienne Jill Gutowitz, a self-styled “Overlord of Lesbian Twitter” who, both online and in this clever essay collection, traffics in “memes about lesbian movies and middle-aged actresses with a dogged persistence and untethered horniness.”
Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos (Mar. 15)
Febos’ 2021 essay collection, Girlhood, is an essential read on how the patriarchy poisons the well of women’s erotic and emotional lives, a fierce compendium of agency and autonomy that undoes the stories we’ve forever been told about ourselves. Body Work is a sort of spiritual sister to that brilliant book, a memoir-meets-craft-manual that offers guidance on how to tell our own stories on our own terms.
The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela (Mar. 22)
Echoes of Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man resound in this deeply profound debut novel about a Latinx professor reluctantly returning to his suburban hometown to attend his high school reunion and care for his father, who has recently fallen ill.
Let’s Not Do That Again by Grant Ginder (Apr. 5)
Ginder, a former congressional intern and speechwriter for John Podesta whose 2017 book The People We Hate at the Wedding is currently being adapted to film returns with a political romp about a mother whose Senate campaign is derailed when her daughter is photographed destroying a storefront window during a protest in Paris. She dispatches her son, a chronically single gay man who swore off public affairs and is writing a musical about Joan Didion called “Hello to All That!” Imagine a mashup of Veep and The Other Two and you’ll get a sense of this screwball family dramedy.
Rave by Jessica Campbell (Apr. 5)
Canadian cartoonist Jessica Campbell delivers a gracefully laconic graphic novel about a teen girl in the early aughts wrestling with faith and sexuality. The daughter of deeply religious parents, Lauren begins to question all she thinks she knows about herself when she’s paired with the rebellious, cigarette-smoking wiccan Mariah for a school science project. Campbell’s unobtrusive style makes for a quick read that will nonetheless linger with you long after you turn the final page.
Violets by Kyung-Sook Shin, translated by Anton Hur (Apr. 12)
San and Namae are two young outcasts growing up in a rural village in South Korea, two “nothing-girls” who enjoy the burgeoning intimacy of their private time. But after Namae rejects her, San becomes more isolated, retreating further inside herself. Years later, in her twenties, San applies for a job at a flower shop, where she encounters a veritable bouquet of colorful characters. But even after all this time, San, who had fled her village and never returned, can’t shake the memory of Namae.
Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Apr. 5)
Stuart’s heartrending, Booker-winning debut, Shuggie Bain, was a richly textured novel about working class Scotland and the enduring love between a mother and son. It was at once lush and uncompromising, doleful and brimming with hope, all of which can also be said of the author’s follow-up, centered on the star-crossed romance between two boys—one Catholic, the other Protestant.
Like a House on Fire by Lauren McBrayer (Apr. 26)
Pushing 40, Merit’s life is at a bit of a standstill: she’s in a humdrum marriage with a husband who’s only half there, and she’s taken some time off from work to care for her new child and to nurture an ultimately unfruitful painting career. She decides to apply for a position at an architectural firm led by the brilliant and glamorous Jane, a woman almost twenty years her senior. But soon the lines between boss, mentor, friend, and something more begin to blur.
Burn the Page: A True Story of Torching Doubts, Blazing Trails, and Igniting Change by Danica Roem (Apr. 26)
True to form, Roem, who made headlines and history in 2017 when she beat an anti-LGBTQ+ incumbent to become the first openly trans person elected to U.S. state legislature, has written a political memoir unlike any other. Inspired by the opposition research she conducted on herself during her campaign, the Virginian delegate chronicles her rise from a metalhead reporter moonlighting as a food delivery driver to a game-changing public official. “It’s possible to live a big and honest life,” Roem writes, “and be successful because of who you are, not despite it.”
Acts of Service by Lillian Fishman (May 3)
Eve, a 28-year-old waitress, knows exactly one thing for sure: she’s got a good body, the kind of body—not that she’s vain or anything—that should be appreciated and utilized to its potential. Anonymously, she posts a nude picture online, which captures the attention of a couple looking for a third. The resulting relationship expands and constricts Eve’s world, opening and closing the doors of her self-perception. Ottessa Moshfegh’s urban malaise meets Raven Leilani’s loquacious eroticism in this provocative novel.
The Third Person by Emma Grove (May 3)
Grove’s debut is a doozy—a mesmerizing 900-page graphic memoir chronicling the author’s arduous gender affirmation process and battles with mental health. The heaviness of the story’s subject matter—dissociative identity disorder, trauma, the limitations and small graces of therapy—is leavened by lighthearted humor, mordant dialogue, and expressive illustrations, culminating in what Detransition, Baby author Torrey Peters calls “a beautiful, vulnerable, exquisite book that offers an uncommonly clear look at a mind coming to know itself.”
The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison by Hugh Ryan (May 10)
From 1929 to 1974, in New York’s Greenwich Village, near the end of Christopher Street, in the place that contains the Jefferson Market Garden, there stood a prison, a detention center housing women and transmasculine people that was “dangerous, vile, violent, dirty, and cruel”—but also a place that became a locus of the local queer community. Among those incarcerated were Angela Davis and Andrea Dworkin, and punishable crimes included everything from murder and larceny to writing a letter with the word “lesbian” in it. In this essential, abolitionist work, historian and author of When Brooklyn Was Queer Hugh Ryan uncovers the stories of this bewildering place and of the people who populated it.
All the Things We Don’t Talk About by Amy Feltman (May 24)
Feltman’s follow-up to her debut novel Willa & Hesper—a wonderful novel of family, faith, and first love—centers on Morgan, a nonbinary teenager, and their father, both of whom are thrown for a loop when Morgan’s mother, who’d left her husband and child when the latter was an infant, returns to the fold.
Rainbow Rainbow: Stories by Lydia Conklin (May 31)
A lesbian couple living in Laramie, Wyoming—a town made infamous by the murder of Matthew Shepherd—debates whether to have a child despite being at a crossroads in their relationship. Two tween girls from the suburbs venture into the city to meet an older woman with whom one of them had been flirting online. Conklin’s vibrant stories are populated by people fumbling awkwardly toward the next stages of their lives with skewed perceptions of what awaits them.
Yerba Buena by Nina LaCour (May 31)
After a terrible tragedy, sixteen-year-old Sara flees her hometown for a new life in Los Angeles, where, years later, she crosses paths with Emilie, an aspiring florist who’s trying to outrun her own demons. The first adult book by YA superstar LaCour—whose previous novel, We Are Okay, was a best-selling Printz Award winner—is a heartbreakingly beautiful story about two lost women who somehow find each other and in doing so find themselves.