The Prose Practise – LGBT Literature

I had a rather interesting email from a follower earlier this week which had highlighted something to them at my recent burst of mentioning ‘The Green Carnation Prize’ and one of the questions we asked our shortlisted authors which was ‘what book would you nominate if there was a ‘Lost Green Carnation Prize’ novel?’ it was a question which I was asked myself in an interview a while back and one I struggled a little with and so naturally who can I turn to for recommendations… you lovely lot of course.

Dear Savidge Reads,
I thought I would email you as The Green Carnation Prize has really brought some fantastic titles written by gay men to my attention that have come out this year. What I wondered was which books are LGBT classics, are there any lost or forgotten books which people should try to be tracking down? I myself am not gay but I would like to read more books written by gay authors and ones that look at the history of homosexuality, what can you recommend?
Many thanks,

As I mentioned it was a question which I struggled with (which I am hoping won’t make people think I am not really qualified to Chair the judges for The Green Carnation Prize 2011) not because its something I have never been interested in or cared about, in fact quite the opposite, but because it was never something I was informed about growing up. I mean the gay and lesbian section at my local library back in the 1990’s never had anything much and it wasn’t a section I wanted to be caught by my school friends in for various reasons. The only books I did manage to get my hands on were by Edmund White, because I told my Mum it was a memoir of an authors life – a truth in parts, and the Armistead Maupin ‘Tales of the City’ series which I managed to get in second hand shops with my pocket money. There are many more authors out there who I missed back then (such as the amazing Neil Bartlett) and are more I am sure I am missing.

Two books I have been recommended by several people I know and authors I have finally got my mitts on, thanks to some lovely people, recently. These are the now out of print ‘Queens’ by Pickles which a friend bought me a few months ago when The Green Carnation Prize was born and said ‘I simply must read’ (I will soon I promise) and ‘Faggots’ by Larry Kramer which Novel Insights bought me when she helped me take lots and lots of books to the 5 for £2 book shop up the road at the weekend.

Yet there must be so many more and not just books long forgotten but also from the last few years that might have gone under the radar. Can you recommend any that you have read and loved which need more attention and recognition, or any classics that people should read simply because they are missing out? You would be helping Amy and you’d be helping me, as I am planning on reading many more of these in the next few months.


Filed under Book Thoughts, The Prose Practise

11 responses to “The Prose Practise – LGBT Literature

  1. Armistead Maupin, as you mentioned, is a must (and not just because the Tales of the City are GLBT classics but because they are fun, engaging reads) and I think Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat series (of which I have only read the first so far) is a contender for younger readers’ Tales of the City equivalent.

    Trumpet by Jackie Kay is a beautiful, poignant GLBT read and then there’s Orlando, of course, and Mrs Dalloway and A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood is a masterpiece Brideshead Revisited and novels by Colette and Michael Cunningham and Sarah Waters and Radclyffe Hall and James Baldwin and Alan Hollinghurst and Jeanette Winterson and and Middlesex for its transgendered themes and and and …

    This list is particularly useful:

    I read Desert of the Heart by Jane Rule recently and recommend it; I had never heard of it until Virago reissued it.

  2. I think I emailed this to you but A Stone Boat by Andrew Solomon is superb and I think a real lost classic. I came across a copy in a charity shop years ago and it remains one of the most moving books I’ve ever read. It’s so beautifully written, I really can’t encourage you to read it strongly enough!

  3. I haven’t read a lot of glbtq literature yet but have been reading more – though more queer lit and non-fiction (gender studies for example) than gay literature. I would recommend Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg FOR SURE as well as Ivan Coyote’s short story collections. I’ll be watching to see what others recommend as I could use some good recommendations as well 🙂

  4. I’d suggest J.R. Ackerley’s We Think the World of You or Adam Mars-Jones’s The Waters of Thirst.

  5. One of my favorite gay reads as a youth was Surprising Myself by Christopher Bram. I think it may have been his first novel, long before the film Gods and Monsters made him famous.

    Also, The Lost Lanuage of Cranes by David Leavitt is a classic.

  6. Andre Aciman, Call Me by Your Name
    Bruce Benderson, The Romanian , Story of an Obsession
    Dennis Cooper, Frisk
    Jay Cox, Latter Days
    Scott Heym, Mysterious Skin
    Alan Hollinghurst, The Swimming Pool Library
    Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man
    Larry Kramer, The Normal Heart (play)
    Tony Kushner, Angels in America (play)
    David Leavitt, The Lost Language of Cranes
    Aiden Shaw, Wasted
    Martin Sherman, Bent (play)
    Soehnlein, K.M., The World of Normal Boys, Robin & Ruby
    Emanuel Xavier, Christ Like

    Of course there are others, but i shortlisted a few that are really good reads. Hope everyone enjoyes them!


  7. A couple of dark ones:

    Michel Tournier: The Erl King (also translated as The Ogre)
    Jean Genet: Querelle of Brest

  8. Has to be Martin Bauman by David Leavitt I didn’t want my time with it to end.

  9. novelinsights

    Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray? Definitely a classic…

  10. The one that rings out in my history is ‘Another Country’ by James Baldwin. On the outside, mom-worthy even the description, but inside lay a beautifully written, educational for a 14 year old, SAUCY read!

  11. Maurice – E M Forster hasn’t been mentioned yet, but I was also going to say Dorian Gray.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s