Some exceptional works were published last year that not only shifted the narratives that centered the LGBTQIA+ community, but also transformed the notion of which narratives should take precedence over the others. Below is a (not-so-definitive) list of books that are expected to make 2022 a marvellous year in terms of queer publishing (and reading).
Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America (W.W. Norton & Company) by Mayukh Sen
American writer of Bengali descent, Sen, who won the James Beard Award—“Oscar of the food world”—in 2018, is out with his first book Taste Makers. Sen, who has been credited with the ‘reinventor’ tag in food writing, also teaches food journalism at New York University.
The Prophecy, The Key, and The Shadow (Talking Club, the children’s imprint of Speaking Tiger) by Payal Dhar
Journalist, writer, and editor Payal Dhar’s “edge-of-the-seat fantasy adventure trilogy” will be published by Speaking Tiger. Last year, Dhar’s It Has No Name, a YA-novel touching upon themes that she has dabbled with in the past, was published by Context.
Panpocalypse (The Feminist Press) by Carley Moore
Waiting for a queer-themed novel set against the COVID-19 pandemic? Then here it is. Moore tells a story of a “queer disabled woman,” who takes to the locked-down streets of the New York City looking for the “first women she fell in love with, who broke her heart.”
Bitter (Penguin Random House) by Akwaeke Emezi
Emezi describes themself as an artist and writer based in liminal spaces. Their writing prowess is widely celebrated as they churn out one bestseller after another. This year, the National Book Award finalist has come out with a “companion novel to the critically acclaimed PET that explores both the importance and cost of social revolution – and how youth lead the way.”
Clean Air (Algonquin Books) by Sarah Blake
This second novel by celebrated poet Blake, is a post-apocalyptic science fiction, while it also “probes motherhood, grief, control, and choice.” Pushing the literary imagination up by a notch, this page-turning mystery is an unmissable read in this post-COVID world.
Under a Kabul Sky: Short Fiction by Afghan Women (Inanna Publications), translated by Elaine Kennedy
Featuring stories by Wasima Badghisi, Batool Haidari, Manizha Bakhtari among others, Under the Kabul Sky is a collection of twelve short stories that “dive deep into imaginary worlds where everyday life is marked and marred by war.” Originally published by Éditions Le Soupirail in 2019, this was the first volume of short fiction stories by Afghan women to release in France.
Abolition. Feminism. Now. (Haymarket Books) by Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica R. Meiners, and Beth E. Richie
This book brings to surface the multiple histories that have been conveniently erased for they were championed by queer, anti-capitalist, feminists of colour at the grassroots. It brings to life, abolition “as a politic and a practice”, through the eyes of the authors, who are pioneering activists in their own rights. Each of them believe that “abolition is our best response to endemic forms of state and interpersonal gender and sexual violence.”
Return Flight: Poems (Milkweed Editions) by Jennifer Huang
Jennifer Huang’s “thrumming debut teaches us how history harrows and heals, often with the same hand.” This collection of poetry, which was awarded the 2021 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry, is also the Rumpus Poetry Book Club’s selection for January 2022.
People Change (Penguin Random House) by Vivek Shraya
Shraya has donned many hats, that of an artist, performer, musician, writer, model, and teacher, in People Change, where “she reflects on the origins of this impulse, tracing it to childhood influences from Hinduism to Madonna. What emerges a meditation is on change itself: why we fear it, why we’re drawn to it, what motivates us to change, and what traps us in place.”
Fiona and Jane (Viking) by Jean Chen Ho
Story of two young Taiwanese American women navigating “friendship, sexuality, identity, and heartbreak over two decades,” Jean Chen Ho’s Fiona and Jane is equally a story of Asian women “who dare to stake a claim on joy in a changing, contemporary America.”
High-Risk Homosexual: A Memoir (Soft Skull Press) by Edgar Gomez
Florida-born, with roots in Nicaragua and Puerto Rico, Edgar Gomez’s book “traces a touching and often hilarious spiralic path to embracing a gay, Latinx identity against a culture of machismo—from a cockfighting ring in Nicaragua to cities across the US—and the bath houses, night clubs, and drag queens who help redefine pride.”
To Paradise (Pan Macmillan) by Hanya Yanagihara
Already being praised as being “as good as War and Peace,” Booker-shortlisted Yanagihara’s latest To Paradise offers an “alternate version of 1893 America” and tells a story set in 1993’s AIDS epidemic before ending with the plague-ridden world in 2093.
A Previous Life (Bloomsbury) by Edmund White
Pushing “for a broader understanding of sexual orientation,” White’s latest is a “searing, scintillating take on physical beauty and its inevitable decline.”
Open: An Uncensored Memoir of Love, Liberation, and Non-Monogamy (Harmony) by Rachel Krantz
Journalist and editor Krantz, who is also a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Investigative Reporters and Editors Radio Award, is exploring whether one can “have both freedom and love,” “comfort and lust” in her debut memoir Open, where she is “chronicling her first open relationship with unflinching candour.”
Manywhere: Stories (Macmillan) by Morgan Thomas
In their debut short-story collection, Thomas proffers Southern queer and genderqueer characters, tracing “deceit and violence through Southern tall tales and their own pasts” and journeys. “Winding between reinvention and remembrance, transition and transcendence, these origin stories resound across centuries.”
Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative (Catapult) by Melissa Febos
A memoir and a masterclass at the same time, Febos draws “on her own path from aspiring writer to acclaimed author and writing professor – via addiction and recovery, sex work and academia.” Body Work will not only “empower readers and writers alike” but will also offer ideas “(and occasional notes of caution) to anyone who has ever hoped to see themselves in a story.”
Violets (The Feminist Press) by Kyung-Sook Shin, translated from the Korean by Anton Hur
Shin is not only the first woman to win the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012 but also a widely-celebrated Korean writer. Translated by Hur, her latest novel is a story of a “neglected woman [who] experiences the violence and isolation of contemporary Korean society.”
Young Mungo (Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan) by Douglas Stuart
The Booker Prize-winning author is back with his second novel in which he is“imbuing in the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism,” and exploring the “meaning of masculinity, the push and pull of family, the violence faced by so many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.”