2016 was a Spectacular Year for Queer Lit.

Posted on January 28, 2017
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grmQueer Reader predicted 2016 would be a good year for Queer Lit, but no one could have predicted just how good a year it would turn out to be.  In fact, since this website was founded over eight years ago, 2016 was by far the best year for Queer Lit.

Two thousand sixteen was the year Edmund White’s Our Young Man was published.  If this were the only queer title published in 2016, it would still have been a good year for Queer Lit.  Our Young Man is the epic queer novel, Edmund White was destined to write.   It follows the life of a queer super model and along the way reveals two decades of queer history.  It is arguably Mr. White’s best novel–so far.

Similarly, if Darryl Pinckney’s Black Deutschland had been the only queer novel published last year, 2016 would still be a good year for Queer Lit.  Mr. Pinckney’s novel reads like a memoir.  It’s the story of an African-American living in Berlin during the final days of the Wall.  The narrator’s voice–intellectual, erudite, peppered with ironic wit–is one of the many pleasures of this highly unique queer novel.

There is something special about  The Dream Life of Astronauts:  put simply it is the remarkable empathy Patrick Ryan expresses for the characters in the stories that comprise this collection.  Whether he is writing of a teen-aged boy with a crush on an astronaut, a grandmother contemplating an affair with her driving instructor, a teen-aged girl wanting to become Miss America or a mobster living in a retirement community, Mr. Ryan renders these stories with compassion.  Queer Reader is not the only reviewer to appreciate the subtle charms of this remarkable book of short stories.  In her New York Times review, Michiko Kakutani compared The Dream life of Astronauts to Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg Ohio.

Queer Reader is also not the only reviewer to appreciate Garth Greenwell’s debut novel.   What Belongs to You tells the story of an American school teacher’s relationship with a Bulgarian hustler named Mitko.   Mr. Greenwell’s writing is at his best in the first part of this novel.  Here he precisely–and often amusingly–describes Mitko’s almost childlike appreciation of the smallest material things and his seemingly genuine  affection which, with the prospect of cash, can be turned on like a faucet.  What Belongs to You established, beyond any doubt, that Mr. Greenwell is a writer to watch.

Two thousand sixteen will also go down as the year James Magruder’s Love Slaves of Hadley Hall was published.  This highly entertaining novel follows the stories of nineteen characters inhabiting a Yale dormitory in 1983-1984.  Mr. Magruder is a master of dialogue and he weaves in enough surprising plot twists to keep the pages turning.  While reminiscent of Armistead Maupin, Mr. Magruder has a style that is all his own.

Add to all this the publication of David France’s superb–and essential–How to Survive a Plague, and 2016 adds up to a spectacular year for Queer Lit.

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