Great Books By Queer Authors From The Last 5 Years

A reading list for Pride month and beyond.

Queer writers’ contributions to the literary canon span genres and generations.

Pride month is a fitting time to recognize the work of authors in the LGBTQ community, but of course, these writings are worth honoring year round. This June, we’re taking a closer look at contemporary icons and rising stars in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and more.

Below, find 45 books by queer authors published in the past five years. While this list is by no means comprehensive, we hope it sparks some reading list inspiration.

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"Fairest" by Meredith Talusan
Penguin Random House
"Recounting her coming-of-age as a transgender Filipino-American person with albinism, Talusan sails past the conventions of trans and immigrant memoirs. Rather than flaying her identities one by one, she examines the links between them to illustrate that it is here, in the messy overlap, that a person is made." — The New York Times

Buy it here.
"Freshwater" by Akwaeke Emezi
Grove Press
“A stunning and disorienting story about a broken woman trying to overcome the pain of her human life while straddling ‘the other side.’ It interweaves Igbo religious myth with a story of overcoming mental illness — floating between the corporeal and metaphysical. ... Freshwater is unlike any novel I have ever read. Its shape-shifting perspective is radical and innovative, twisting the narrative voices like the bones of a python.” — The Toronto Star

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"Watch Over Me" by Nina LaCour
Penguin Random House
"LaCour’s portrait of a young woman yearning to belong and facing her past while navigating the liminal space between childhood and adulthood brims with tender moments and sensory details." — Publishers Weekly

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"We Are Never Meeting in Real Life" by Samantha Irby
Vintage
"It’s like nothing you’ve ever read, because Irby is like no one you’ve ever met, although you will never really know, because I’m pretty sure the title of this book does not lie. Take heart, though, meeting Irby in writing is plenty rewarding enough." — Los Angeles Times

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"Hunger" by Roxane Gay
HarperCollins
“At a time when there is no shortage of recommendations for women on how to discipline or make peace with their bodies, Roxane Gay’s book, 'Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body' , stands out precisely because she begins it by declaring that she hasn’t overcome her ‘unruly body and unruly appetites.’” — The Atlantic

Buy it here.
"An Unkindness Of Ghosts" by Rivers Solomon
Akashic Books
Solomon debuts with a raw distillation of slavery, feudalism, prison, and religion that kicks like rotgut moonshine. On the generational starship Matilda, which will take hundreds of years to reach its destination despite traveling at a significant fraction of the speed of light, a tech-ignorant white supremacy cult called the Sovereignty runs on the labor and intimidation of a black enslaved class.” — Publishers Weekly

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"All Boys Aren't Blue" by George M. Johnson
Macmillan
" ... [A]n exuberant, unapologetic memoir infused with a deep but clear-eyed love for its subjects. Johnson lays bare the darkest moments in his life with wit and unflinching vulnerability, from the bullying he suffered as a child to the losses of his cousin — an early model for him of what a joyful queer life could look like — his fraternity brother and his grandmother, who died as Johnson was working on the book and whose presence looms largest in it." — The New York Times

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"On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous" by Ocean Vuong
Penguin Random House
"Vuong's language soars as he writes of beauty, survival, and freedom, which sometimes isn't freedom at all, but "simply the cage widening far away from you, the bars abstracted with distance but still there," like animals in nature preserves." — NPR

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"Mostly Dead Things" by Kristen Arnett
Tin House Books
"[L]est you cringe at what sounds like a difficult read, this isn't a depressing book: it's darkly funny, both macabre and irreverent, and its narrator is so real that every time I stopped reading the book, I felt a tiny pull at the back of my mind, as if I'd left a good friend in the middle of a conversation." — NPR

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"Detransition, Baby" by Torrey Peters
Penguin Random House
"One can imagine her writing a different novel, in which, at the beginning, a baby is born, and we watch three characters work through and transcend the challenges of raising a child together. Such a book would reflect on the joy and constraints of family bonds, of a finite path chosen. But Peters is less interested in resolution than in the continual project of reckoning with ourselves. She confronts the unruliness of our desires, and our vitality as we struggle within their limits." — The New Yorker

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"The Destroyers" by Christopher Bollen
HarperCollins
"Sharp imagery and incisive descriptions bring to life both the Greek island of Patmos and the moneyed class laying claim to it: tourists 'lingering between states of hangover and hunger,' 'ochre bodies fashionably starved' and dancers swaying in 'slow, narcotic movements.' Heat pours through 'the white hole of noon,' and on the Aegean, 'darkened yachts look like flies crawling on raw, blue meat.'" — The Washington Post

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"Life of the Party" by Olivia Gatwood
Penguin Random House
“'Life of the Party' is largely a memoir, with memories of friendship as well as violence. In 'Mans/Laughter,' Gatwood shares, among other things, the sexual harassment she endured from her boss while working at a bakery in high school." — The New York Times

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"Real Life" by Brandon Taylor
Penguin Random House
“Equal parts captivating, erotic, smart and vivid . . . [rendered] with tenderness and complexity, from the first gorgeous sentence of his book to its very last . . . Taylor is also tackling loneliness, desire and — more than anything — finding purpose, meaning and happiness in one’s own life." — Time

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"Hull" by Xandria Phillips
Nightboat Books
"In their debut collection, Xandria Phillips explores embodiment and colonization through lenses of race, gender and queerness. These poems are powerful and intense. This complex and historically layered collection takes some work on the part of white cis readers; but it’s just the work we should be doing." — Ms. Magazine

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"The Lost Coast" by Amy Rose Capetta
Candlewick
"With lush prose, atmospheric descriptions, and nonlinear storytelling (segments intertwine present and past), Capetta ('Echo After Echo') crafts an accomplished tale with a wide range of representation. Frank discussions of sexuality and identity intertwine with an almost raw emotionality as the characters wholeheartedly embrace their true selves, and an underlying current of suspense supports the overarching mixture of intrigue and interpersonal development." — Publishers Weekly

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"Bestiary" by K-Ming Chang
Penguin Random House
“[A] vivid, fabulist debut ... the prose is full of imagery. Chang’s wild story of a family’s tenuous grasp on belonging in the U.S. stands out with a deep commitment to exploring discomfort with the body and its transformations.” — Publishers Weekly

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"This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story" by Kacen Callender
HarperCollins
"In their debut young adult novel, Callender assembles a delightful cast of teenage characters who feel so authentic that readers will be scanning their school cafeterias for them. The author has a talent for capturing the earnest-yet-awkward cadence of teenspeak, and they explore the humor and pathos of adolescent relationships in a way that demonstrates a deep respect for the teen audience." — Kirkus Reviews

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"Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons" by John Paul Brammer
Simon & Schuster
"'Hola Papi' is a master class of tone and tenderness, as Brammer balances self-compassion with humor. Throughout, Brammer bridges his identities and his sensibilities; he is at once the self-deprecating Papi and the kind sage John Paul. He leaves his beloved reader with the solace that, by practicing kindness in our reflections, we can find lessons for ourselves and teach others to do the same." — The New York Times

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"Her Body and Other Parties" by Carmen Maria Machado
Graywolf Press
“['Her Body and Other Parties' is] a vibrant collection that presents women in their vulnerabilities and strengths in relationships with men, in relationships with other women, and in reflection upon their own bodies as they sort through the social conventions that have long stifled their full expression of self.” — The Seattle Review of Books

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"The Dangerous Art of Blending" by Angelo Surmelis
HarperCollins
"Surmelis’s debut novel delves deeply into Evan’s raw torment as he struggles with wanting to be openly himself and holding onto his secrets. Suspense builds as Evan’s inability to confront his strong attraction to his best friend Henry threatens that long relationship, and he grows increasingly unwilling to tolerate his volatile mother’s physical and emotional cruelty (witnessed by his loving but passive father)." — Publishers Weekly

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"The Tradition" by Jericho Brown
Copper Canyon Press
"The book complicates 'traditional' themes of love and death in poems that merge sharp accounts of national injustice with private pains. The Tradition contains love poems and elegies, poems that bring into thrilling contact the tropes of 'traditional' lyric — lilies, Greco-Roman landscapes, museum paintings — with an urgency borne of threat." — LA Review of Books

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"There Will Be No Miracles Here" by Casey Gerald
"Gerald's memoir is remarkable on every level: He's a natural storyteller whose writing is absolutely gorgeous. By breaking every rule of the business memoir genre, he's created something unique and sublime: a beautiful chronicle of a life as yet unfinished, and a book that refuses to give in to the glib or sentimental." — NPR

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"The Yellow House" by Sarah M. Broom
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
"While it’s impossible to underscore Hurricane Katrina’s impact on her family and the city at large, Broom’s hope with The Yellow House is to reveal the ways in which Katrina was no singular catastrophe." — The Atlantic

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"Born Both: An Intersex Life" by Hida Viloria
Hachette Books
"As a memoir, 'Born Both' can be as difficult to pin down as its author's identity. Equal parts life history, anatomy textbook, sex diary and public service announcement, it seems in places to have been written as an activist gesture rather than a literary one…But all this can be forgiven because amid the public service announcements, Viloria does us the even greater service (it's more of a gift, really) of showing us what it means to live not just as both a man and a woman but also as a third gender that eventually emerges as the right one." — The New York Times

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"Burn It All Down" by Nicolas DiDomizio
Little, Brown and Company
"DiDomizio’s breezy if exasperating debut follows an aspiring stand-up comic and his mother on their quest for vengeance against those who broke their hearts." — Publishers Weekly

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"The Map of Salt and Stars" by Zeyn Joukhadar
Simon & Schuster
"The ancient, sometimes mystical connection between maps, people and knowledge is central to Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar’s 'The Map of Salt and Stars,' a double tale of voyage and exile that moves between contemporary war-torn Syria and the caravansaries and khans of its lost past." — The New York Times

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"Love After the End" by Joshua Whitehead
Arsenal Pulp Press
"This visionary anthology edited by Lambda Literary Award winner Whitehead brings together a group of Indigenous voices from across North America to explore the aftermaths of apocalypses both global and personal. Ranging from imaginative science fantasy to plausible near-future speculative fiction, these nine stories are thematically unified by their queer visions of Indigenous futures." — Publishers Weekly

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"You Exist Too Much" by Zaina Arafat
Catapult
"More than just a novel with a plot, 'You Exist Too Much' is a character study told in vignettes that jump between past and present, from summers spent with family in the Middle East to time New York City, Italy, Egypt, Lebanon, and a treatment center. Each place is marked by a love interest, and each period is marred by a longing for something." — NPR

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"Plain Bad Heroines" by Emily M. Danfort
HarperCollins
"Danforth braids the layers of narrative together with expertise. She’s clearly a horror buff: besides Lovecraft, there are explicit nods to 'Blair Witch,' Peter Straub, Berberian Sound Studio, M Night Shyamalan, 'The Omen' and innumerable others. Another writer might have let the metatext choke the dread, but Danforth uses it to thrillingly corrode the reader’s own sense of reality." — The Guardian

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"They Both Die at the End" by Adam Silvera
HarperCollins
"Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera, who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived." — Kirkus Reviews

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"Homie" by Danez Smith
Graywolf Press
"In its cutting compassion, 'Homie' is as much a celebration of loved ones’ lives as it is a lament for their loss, equally a war cry for kinship and the burial dirge after the battle. The collection rings as a heartfelt call to love our beloveds as if they’ll be gone tomorrow, because they just might be." — LA Review of Books

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"The Undocumented Americans" by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Penguin Random House
"[W]hat sets 'The Undocumented Americans' apart and keeps you pinned to the page is its ferocity. Karla Cornejo Villavicencio is undocumented herself, and her rage and courage provide the book’s thrumming engine. Because she starts on a level of trust with the people she interviews, she finds the details and paradoxical twists in their lives that might escape a more distant observer." — The Guardian

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"Leave the World Behind" by Rumaan Alam
HarperCollins
“Enthralling ... [Alam’s] achievement is to see that his genre’s traditional arc, which relies on the idea of aftermath, no longer makes sense. Today, disaster novels call for something different, a recognition that we won’t find a new normal.” — The New Yorker

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"A History of My Brief Body" by Billy-Ray Belcourt
Two Dollar Radio
“'A History of My Brief Body' resists distillation, embracing instead the contradictions of triumphing over oppression by honoring joy and desire. Flickering through lyric essays that function as chapters, Belcourt centers queer and indigenous thought as he braids theoretical and literary references with vignettes from a sex life brokered online." — The Washington Post

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"The Devil You Know" by Charles M. Blow
HarperCollins
"'The Devil You Know' reminds that America’s mobility has not always meant progress, that alongside the allure of movement are the tears and disappointments that keep us moving, always seeking a new place where we can and must belong." — The Washington Post

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"We Set the Dark on Fire" by Tehlor Kay Mejia
HarperCollins
"'We Set the Dark on Fire' is a book so timely it hurts. A girl smuggled across an unjust wall, forced to hide behind forged papers and live in fear for her family's safety is a painfully resonant image to anyone who watches the news. Mejia manages to walk a very tight line in evoking some of the injustices that are currently happening in America without being heavy-handed." — NPR

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"Amateur" by Thomas Page McBee
Scribner
"In an age when identity feels so splintered and fractional, McBee’s empathy with men feels refreshing, but it’s his determination to be accountable that is radical. He resolves his own masculinity crisis by doing the things men often think they’re doing, but so often are not: listening, asking questions, seeking help, being vulnerable." — The Guardian

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"Vanishing Monuments" by John Elizabeth Stintzi
Arsenal Pulp Press
"In Stintzi’s debut novel, a nonbinary photographer named Alani returns to their childhood home to face their mother’s worsening dementia — 30 years after running away. Back in the house they shared with their mother, Alani attempts to reckon with memory, fear and grief. An enchanting story with a truly compelling protagonist, Stintzi has marked themself as a writer to watch." — The Seattle Times

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"My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness" by Kabul Nagata
Macmillan
"Nagata draws cute characters in simple, spindly lines tinted with dollops of pink, making even the lumpiest of her warts-and-all confessions look adorable. Her strength is in her writing, which mixes shockingly blunt honesty with humor and small, imaginative observations: 'The texture of my first kiss was like a tomato.' This is a wrenching memoir from a major talent." — Publishers Weekly

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"Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls" by T Kira Madden
Bloomsbury
"Like the greats, Madden writes with devastating clarity and lyricism, becomes a storyteller trustworthy enough to tell even the ugliest of truths. 'Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls' will make you want to remember, to want more. It takes unexpected turns, as Madden ends up with even more emotional discoveries about her family and herself, and as she navigates being truly fatherless after his death." — Chicago Review of Books

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"Fiebre Tropical" by Juli Delgado Lopera
The Feminist Press
"In 'Fiebre Tropical,' Delgado Lopera renders a complex, nuanced portrayal of the migration story of a family of three generations of Colombian women. Without looking away at the real and at times oppressive hierarchies that exist between immigrants and in Latinx families and communities, Delgado Lopera gives us an intimate look at the main character’s struggle to come to terms with her gender identity amid the displacement of immigration, and the rigidly drawn gender roles of a born-again Christian household." — LA Review of Books

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"Sketchtasy" by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Arsenal Pulp Press
"Caught between revelry and despair, the gay community of ’90s Boston struggles to confront the AIDS crisis in this heart-rending novel from Sycamore. A drag queen who goes by Alexa leaves ACT UP in San Francisco for college in Boston, but drops out when the flashbacks of her father’s molestation and her deepening drug habit begin to converge." — Publishers Weekly

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"Refuse" by Julian Randall
University of Pittsburgh Press
"With admirable courage and honesty, Randall speaks to the violence of masculinity, the eroticism of sports culture, the struggles with depression and the dangers of moving through the city streets while inhabiting a black/queer body." — NBC

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"Frankissstein" by Jeanette Winterson
Grove Press
"[N]o specialist knowledge is needed to appreciate this inquisitive novel, because the questions Winterson is asking are questions that have always been with us. What is love? What is life? What am I, and what do I desire to be? Of course Winterson has no answers; what she offers instead is a passionate plea that we keep asking these questions as we refashion ourselves and our world." — Kirkus Reviews

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"If They Come for Us" by Fatimah Asghar
Penguin Random House
“In forms both traditional ... and unorthodox ... Asghar interrogates divisions along lines of nationality, age, and gender, illuminating the forces by which identity is fixed or flexible. Most vivid and revelatory are pieces such as ‘Boy,’ whose perspicacious turns and irreverent idiom conjure the rich, jagged textures of a childhood shadowed by loss.” — The New Yorker

Buy it here.