The Most Anticipated LGBTQ+ Books for Fall 2022

Rasheed Newson, Andrew Sean Greer, and Malinda Lo are among those with forthcoming titles

Rainbow Pride Crosswalk
Photo by Cory Woodward on Unsplash

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.) 

These 13 new titles have got you covered from your last beach read to your first book by the winter fireplace. In addition to big names like Andrew Sean Greer, there are a slew of really exciting debuts: Rasheed Newson, Jeanna Kadlec, Grant Morrison, Jessi Hempel. There are stories of grad students and murderers; trust fund kids and horror movie aficionados; drag queens, missed connections, and unearthed family secrets; high schoolers reckoning with their identities and novelists finding their way home. 

My Government Means to Kill Me by Rasheed Newson (Aug. 23)

It’s 1985 and Earl Singleton III—he prefers Trey—has fled his wealthy Indianapolis family (and a six-figure trust fund) for the less-green, grittier pastures of Manhattan. Presented as a sort of fictional memoir, studded with historical figures and footnotes, Newson’s debut is an audacious, vibrant Ragtime-esque ride through the sordid sanctuary of AIDS-era New York, a book about sex and activism and the power we have to liberate ourselves.  

Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham (Aug. 30)

For over 20 years, since 1993, Carlotta Mercedes has been serving time in a men’s prison—during which she had begun living as a woman—and while fate has never been kind to Carlotta, she is, to her surprise, allowed out a year early on parole. But the post-9/11, post-gentrification Brooklyn she reenters throws her for a loop. Set over the course of a Fourth of July weekend, Hurston/Wright Legacy Award-winning author James Hannaham’s latest novel is at once irreverently funny and devastatingly sad, a quixotic tale about the queerness of missed time; how, for the most marginalized, the shackles of the past and uncertain promises of the future make dwelling in the present seem impossible. 

Real Bad Things by Kelly J. Ford (Sept. 1)

This lush, unsettling southern noir from the author of Cottonmouths centers on a woman who, twenty-five years earlier, confessed to murdering her abusive stepfather; yet, because his body was never found, she was never convicted. Now, however, human remains have turned up, and Jane returns to her small Arkansas town to atone for her crime, unearthing many other buried secrets.  

Luda by Grant Morrison (Sept. 6)

Paradigm-shifting comics scribe Grant Morrison altered the world of superheroes by applying a post-modern gloss to the cape-and-cowl set. (Their runs on Animal Man and Batman are especially fun). The dense, metafictional thrills characteristic of Morrison’s work abound in their first prose novel, a bombastic rhapsody about a middle-aged drag queen with a flair for the occult who begins mentoring a bewitching young ingenue in the dark arts of disappearance and seduction. 

A Minor Chorus by Billy-Ray Belcourt (Sept. 13)

Imagine a mashup of Wayne Koestenbaum and Tommy Pico and you’ll get a sense of this blazing work of metafiction, from the author of the genre-bending prose-poetic essay collection A History of My Brief Body, about a queer Cree grad student brimming with “tweetable despair” who flees academia for the most quixotic of notions: to write a novel, “the beginning of a series of minor but purposeful reinventions.”

Less is Lost by Andrew Sean Greer (Sept. 20)

The Year of the Literary Sequel continues with Greer’s follow-up to his Pulitzer-winning romp Less. Our hero, Minor American Novelist Arthur Less, is enjoying a brief moment of reprieve: his writing career is going okay and his relationship with Freddy is also going okay. But when his old ex-lover, the man whose house Less is currently living in, dies, he is left grieving; to make matters worse, he has to somehow find a way to pay many years’ worth of back rent. He agrees to profile a prominent, elderly sci-fi writer, a gig that entails driving the man across the American Southwest. If the first iteration of Less’s adventures saw him bumbling across Europe and Asia, this one finds him even more out of place, a stranger in his homeland. By turns deliriously funny and devastatingly heartbreaking, Greer’s sequel is an always-moving escapade through middle age. 

The Family Outing by Jessi Hempel (Oct. 4)

Journalist Jessi Hempel debuts with a wondrous memoir a la Fun Home that cleans out the Narnia-vast family closet. By the time Hempel became an adult, she, her father, and both her siblings had come out as queer, while her mother brought her own dark past to light. Built partly on revelations that came about via pandemic-induced interviews, Hempel paints a moving portrait of filial secrets, of loved ones’ unknowability, of the continual courage it takes to come out to oneself and others, of generational trauma and the salve of togetherness. 

It Came from the Closet edited by Joe Vallese (Oct. 4)

Few things are more fraught (and fantastically thrilling) than the relationship between queer people and horror films. Culturally, our community has, as Joe Vallese writes in his introduction to this chimerical compendium of critical essays, been treated as “both victim and boogeyman,” predator and prey, and it’s perhaps this dichotomy that draws us into its campy happenings. Featuring pieces on Jennifer’s Body, Halloween, Candyman, and more, Vallese’s volume is an essential look at how spooky movies so often offer solace through subversiveness. 

Heretic by Jeanna Kadlec (Oct. 25)

This we know: Jeanna Kadlec has long been a champion for other queer writers, a steadfast challenger to the many iniquities of the media world, and a delightful live-tweeter of films filled with gay subtext. Now she is gifting us her debut memoir, an achingly rendered story of leaving the Evangelical church and an oppressive marriage, a story of losing faith and finding oneself. Within these pages, Kadlec combines revelatory personal narratives with assiduous cultural criticism, Midwestern wonder with intellectual vigor, to explore how some of the social and spiritual functions of religion can be both abhorrent and illuminative of a new path forward. 

Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner (Oct. 25)

Twenty-one-year-old college student Cassie gets hot and heavy with an older woman she meets at a bar near campus, only to discover the next morning that the woman, Erin, is her best friend’s mother, visiting her daughter for Parents’ Weekend. Hijinks and steamy trysts ensue as these two women in the midst of significant transitions pursue a complicated but ultimately palliative relationship. If Wilsner’s first novel—the smoldering Hollywood-set romance Something to Talk About—was a slow-burn, then their latest, known colloquially as “The MILF Book,” is a fun-as-hell five-alarm fire. 

A Scatter of Light by Malinda Lo (Oct. 25)

Lo follows the National Book Award winner Last Night at the Telegraph Club with an alluring coming-of-age story—billed as a “standalone companion” to Telegraph—about a high school senior whose plans for the summer are upended when topless photos of her circulate on Tumblr, prompting her to spend her last months before college with her grandmother. Initially disappointed, Aria warms to her situation as she gets to know her grandmother’s gender-nonconforming gardener, Steph, who introduces her to the colorful, Oz-like world of San Francisco’s queer community. Lo is so adept at crafting rousing, deeply personal tales of late adolescence set against momentous political backdrops. 

Best American Essays 2022 edited by Alexander Chee (Nov. 1)

In his soul-stirring introduction to this year’s anthology, Alexander Chee refers to the Best American Essay series as “a poker hand laid down in a bet against oblivion”—an apt description of what it has been like to read, to create, and to compile writing in whatever-the-hell epoch we’re living through right now. Chee’s installment celebrates and laments, captures and transcends our current predicaments. It’s also super queer, featuring some of our most illuminative voices: Melissa Febos on the animalism of the female body, Alex Marzano-Lesnevich on the complications of gender and futurity, Justin Torres on what’s found when objects are lost, the late Anthony Veasna So on art and mortality. 

Don’t forget to check out the following titles, published January through August 2022!

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.

Brown Neon by Raquel Gutiérrez (June 7)

Gutiérrez’s debut essay collection is a must-read book about butch identity, an impassioned love letter to southwestern desert queers, a meditation on the indefiniteness of gender, and an elegiac and celebratory ode to the legacy of literary legend Jeanne Córdova. 

God’s Children Are Little Broken Things by Arinze Ifeakandu (June 7)

Like Chinelo Okparanta and Akwaeke Emezi, Caine Prize finalist Ifeakandu chronicles the beauty and brutality, the bittersweetness, of queer Nigerian life, and how intimacy can be the warm light against the harmattan haze. 

Greenland by David Santos Donaldson (June 7)

Much to the chagrin of his husband, who is about to divorce him, Kip has barricaded himself in his basement with nothing but a couple boxes of Premium Saltine Crackers; 3 tins of Cafe Bustelo; 21 jugs of Poland Spring water; and his Macbook, which he’s nicknamed Sophia. The reason? He has given himself 3 distraction-free weeks to complete his masterpiece: a historical novel based on E.M. Forster’s passionate love affair with a Black Egyptian tram conductor, Mohammed El Adl. But of course, writers can never sequester themselves from their own demons. Donaldson’s debut novel—which alternates between Kip’s story and Mohammed’s—is a delicious and delirious work of metafiction. 

Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler (June 7)

As an anthology editor and the blogger behind LGBTQ Reads, Dahlia Adler does so much for the queer literary community; her work has, for years, indubitably made our stories more visible. But she’s as much artist as advocate, an author capable of spinning delightful sapphic yarns, as she does here in this sporty romance between a high school cheerleader and the female quarterback whose sudden arrival throws their Florida community for a loop. Adler’s full-hearted latest shines as bright as stadium lights on a Friday night. 

Just By Looking at Him by Ryan O’Connell (June 7)

“Even with the best love,” says the narrator of this humorous and heartfelt novel, “you could still wake up one day next to a beautiful man with a beautiful penis and be bored.” From the creator and star of the Netflix comedy Special—adapted from the author’s memoir about being a gay man with cerebral palsy—comes the story of a television writer living his supposed best life (the aforementioned beautiful man with the beautiful penis, a job for which he makes “a dumb amount of money”) who’s nonetheless unable to settle into contentment, a book about the pitfalls and pratfalls of desiring external validation and the importance of self-acceptance.  

The Kingdom of Sand by Andrew Holleran (June 7)

The author of the seminal queer classic Dancer from the Dance returns with a wide-eyed and wise novel about the ecstasies and agonies of being an aging gay—how disorienting and vast the chasm is between feeling young and looking young, the pains of a still-puerile desire versus the aches of a body in decline. 

Nevada by Imogen Binnie (June 7)

“[W]hen you take away the mystification, misconceptions and mystery,” Binnie writes in this newly-reissued dark comedy of dysmorphia, trans women are “at least as boring as everybody else.” While it’s true that the iconoclastic beauty of Binnie’s 2013 novel lies partly in its straightforward nature—a bookstore clerk gets dumped and then fired from her job, prompting a solo sojourn out west—it also brims with uncommonly judicious insight into the emotional topography of trans bodies.

So Happy For You by Celia Laskey (June 7)

Set in an alternate version of America in which the wedding-industrial complex has become (even more) deranged—like, Midsommar-level deranged—Laskey’s frenetic second novel centers on Robin, a gay academic whose estranged straight friend asks her to be the maid of honor for her upcoming nuptials. Robin is getting her PhD in feminist studies, writing her dissertation on the moonstruck evolution of America’s state-sanctioned wedding frenzy, and sees her friend’s ceremony both as a way to maybe reconnect and to witness the craze firsthand. Yes, it’s Black Mirror meets Bridesmaids, but Laskey’s latest has shades of Jennifer’s Body, too. It’s an absurdist spine-tingler about how societal pressures can so often devour friendships. 

Virology: Essays for the Living, the Dead, and the Small Things in Between by Joseph Osmundson (June 7)

For many queer people, the beginning of the pandemic brought with it the eerie and surreal sense of repeating history—the arguably botched, heavily politicized response to COVID-19 reminiscent of the AIDS crisis, the way the marginalized are always hardest hit. We are tasked, writes Osmundson, now as ever, “to sacrifice, in the face of a virus, to care for one another, and yet to never lose sight of pleasure, even when both the present and the future seem impossible.” In this scrupulous and impassioned manifesto, Osmundson, a microbiologist and activist (and podcaster!), looks at the nature of disease—and its impact on individuals and communities—through a distinctly queer lens. 

Enjoy Me Among My Ruins by Juniper Fitzgerald (June 12)

Fitzgerald’s foray into kid lit, 2018’s How Mamas Love Their Babies, was a vital and playfully iconoclastic book that dispelled any myth that motherhood is monolithic, that a parent’s worth as a provider should be tied to capitalistic ideals. Here, too, in this memoir partly about mothering as a queer sex worker, she laments the normative judgements and restrictions placed on women like her while finding solace in existing outside those norms. 

Body Grammar by Jules Ohman (June 14)

Despite being told repeatedly that she has the looks and disposition for modeling, Oregonian teenager Lou prefers to be behind the camera rather than in front of it. But the accidental death of a good friend, as well as her perceived part in it, causes a mental break from her old life, pushing her to escape the Pacific Northwest and embrace a more glamorous life in New York. Like a figure in a glossy magazine ad, Ohman’s debut novel is lithe and invitingly mysterious. 

X by Davey Davis (June 28)

Davis’ enticing debut is a Winterson-reminiscent tale of love and lust on the margins, a bewitching mix of kink and dystopian thrills. It stars Lee, a professional sadist whose topsy-turvy world is turned even more so when they encounter—and are topped by—an alluring, elusive woman known only by the letter of the novel’s title. X is about to be “exported”—what the autocratic government does to people it deems undesirable—and so Lee sets off on a quest to get to her before she could be gone forever. 

Gods of Want by K-Ming Chang (July 12)

Chang’s first novel, 2020’s Bestiary, was a magical realist marvel, by turns gorgeous and grotesque. Her words are like hearts ripped right out of bodies: abject, pulsing, full of awe—prose-poetry that is perfectly tailored for the short form. Her collection is a medley of visceral myths, stories of devotion and desire. 

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield (July 12)

After a deep sea dive goes horribly awry, stranding her for months in the murky depths, Leah returns to her wife subtly yet fundamentally changed. What emerges is a love story like no other, a tale of two women trying to tiptoe back into domestic bliss while disoriented by missed time. Armfield’s fantastic first novel is about the pockets of unknowability that pop up in even the longest intimacies, how marriage, like the ocean, is full of “the teeth it keeps half-hidden.”

Pretty Baby by Chris Belcher (July 12)

Devotees of Melissa Febos—which is all of us, right?—will be seduced by this captivating memoir chronicling the author’s ascent from Appalachian girlhood to becoming “LA’s Renowned Lesbian Dominatrix.” Belcher’s pen is at once graceful and scathing as it prods the complexities of desire—the ever-present dangers of straight maleness, the sometimes complicated haven of female queerness. 

Sirens & Muses by Antonia Angress (July 12)

Donna Tartt’s The Secret History meets Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings in this entrancing portrait of 3 young artists who meet at an elite college at the height of the Occupy movement. Angress so deftly portrays the splendor and squalor of trying to create something great in the face of rampant capitalism, of love and lust in the face of tooth-and-claw competition. 

Briefly, a Delicious Life by Nell Stevens (July 19)

“Every love story is a ghost story” goes the famous David Foster Wallace quote, an apt description also of this haunting, longing-filled nocturne from the author of Bleaker House. Bianca was 14 years old when she died in 1473, doomed to forever drift among the Mallorcan monastery at which she’d perished. It’s there, many centuries later, that she encounters Frédéric Chopin and his wife, the gender-bending writer George Sand, with whom Bianca also falls in love. 

The Work Wife by Alison B. Hart (July 19)

Working in media, especially as an assistant in any capacity, means being constantly unable to separate home from the office, not simply in a take-it-with-you way but often in a self-effacing way, an I-work-therefore-I-am way. So it is for Zanne, an ambitious 30-something personal assistant to a movie mogul, whose livelihood and identity is tied too closely to her boss’s happiness. Hart’s effervescent first novel unfolds over the course of one day as Zanne is planning an important party that will either make or break her career. 

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews (Aug. 2)

“As the summer began, I moved to Milwaukee, a rusted city where I had nobody, parents two oceans away, I lay on the sun-warmed wood floor of my paid-for apartment and decided I would be a slut.” So begins Mathews’s raw and insouciant debut about a queer Indian-American woman who’s just graduated into the great recession’s aftermath searching for love, friendship, and independence. 

Knocking Myself Up: A Memoir of My (In)Fertility by Michelle Tea (Aug. 2)

The acclaimed author/activist and cultural icon Michelle Tea—whose 2000 novel Valencia changed the game for queer fiction, and whose 2019 essay collection Against Memoir played fast and loose with the rules of autobiography—returns with an often irreverent sendup of the “Fertility Industrial Complex,” and a complex portrait of a 40-ish mother-to-be. 

Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham (Aug. 30)

For over 20 years, since 1993, Carlotta Mercedes has been serving time in a men’s prison—during which she had begun living as a woman—and while fate has never been kind to Carlotta, she is, to her surprise, allowed out a year early on parole. But the post-9/11, post-gentrification Brooklyn she reenters throws her for a loop. Set over the course of a Fourth of July weekend, Hurston/Wright Legacy Award-winning author James Hannaham’s latest novel is at once irreverently funny and devastatingly sad, a quixotic tale about the queerness of missed time; how, for the most marginalized, the shackles of the past and uncertain promises of the future make dwelling in the present seem impossible. 

Don’t forget to check out the following titles, published January through April 2022!

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.”

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