Hi everyone! Since June is the month of Pride, I thought I would recommend some LGBTQ+ authors and my favourite book of theirs. I should point out that the books themselves may not explicitly deal with LGBTQ+ themes. If anyone has any other recommendations, feel free to leave them in the comments below. But without further ado, I’ll dive straight in:
1. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
I know I’ve banged on and on (and on) about The Little Stranger, but I adore it. Dr. Faraday is sent to the crumbling mansion Hundreds Hall, to see to a sick maid of the Ayres family. He slowly integrates himself into the family; meanwhile, mysterious things start to happen in the house. Is Hundreds Hall haunted? It is a well-written, slow burn of a novel that keeps you hooked. I devoured it in a week; I was so invested in the plot. The characters are also really fascinating, Dr. Faraday is a brilliant, complex character and an amazing narrator. Combining a ghost story, historical fiction, and even romance, The Little Stranger mixes genres effortlessly, whilst looking at class in post-war Britain.
2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
I was so torn between this and The Importance of Being Earnest, but I have gone with Wilde’s novel. Everyone pretty much knows the plot; the eponymous Dorian sells his soul so whilst his portrait ages, he stays young and beautiful. Wilde is one of my favourite authors; his use of language and witticisms are extraordinary. The Picture of Dorian Gray contains some of my favourite Wilde lines, and every time I read it I find something new. Dorian is also a great character; he is repulsive yet so compelling to watch. You can’t help but keep reading. I also liked the relationships between him and Henry and Basil. They sort of represent, and appeal to, different aspects of Dorian’s personality, and watching him struggle with that is fascinating. If you’ve never read Wilde before then this is a great place to start. It is fun, accessible yet delves deeply into the main themes.
3. Trumpet by Jackie Kay
The debut novel of Scottish poet Kay (had to slip a fellow Scot on the list!), Trumpet is split into two parts. We follow Millie Moody and her relationship with the talented trumpeter Joss. There is also their son Colman, whose life is turned upside down when he discovers Joss was in fact born a woman. You can tell Kay is a poet, the word choice and imagery is stunning. You feel like you’re there, following both Mille and Colman. Kay also cleverly blends music into the novel, weaving jazz rhythm into the narrative. Trumpet is a heart-breaking, yet life-affirming, read, celebrating love and music and identity. Readers don’t have to know anything about Billy Tipton, whose life inspired the book, before reading this as it really is about family at its core.
4. Toast by Nigel Slater
The only non-fiction on this list – I really need to read more LGBTQ+ non-fiction – but Slater’s memoir is a great one. Tracing his childhood through the food he ate when he was young, Toast is a lovely, nostalgic celebration of all things culinary. However, Slater isn’t afraid to confront the darker times in his past, most notably the death of a parent, making the memoir incredibly bittersweet. Fans of Slater’s cookbooks or TV shows will definitely love this, as he explores how he became interested in cooking and wanting to be a chef. But I think anyone can relate to the growing pains, the teenage insecurity, the complicated relationship with the parents. Toast is a fascinating, sometimes painfully honest, memoir, even if you’re a foodie or not.
If you celebrate Pride, I hope you have a great time! And like I said before, please leave some recommendations in the comments below, I’m always on the hunt for some new books.