Classic Gay & Lesbian Fiction
- The Berlin Stories , by Christopher Isherwood (1954)
- In this book, a man named Christopher Isherwood, who is and is not the author, writes a story of exile, combining the best of Isherwood's real life with the best of the life he imagined.
- Brideshead Revisited , by Evelyn Waugh (1945)
- Captain Charles Ryder, stationed at Brideshead, recalls his boyhood associations with the odd but charming members of an English noble family, including the doomed Sebastian Flyte. Later made into a BBC/PBS miniseries starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews.
- City of Night , by John Rechy (1963)
- City of Night, John Rechy's first novel, became a national best-seller and ushered in a new era of gay fiction. Bold and inventive in his account of the urban underworld of male prostitution, Rechy is equally unflinching in his portrayal of one hustling "young man" and his search for self-knowledge within the neon-lit gay underworld. As the narrator moves from El Paso to Times Square, from Pershing Square to the French Quarter, we get an unforgettable look at life on the edge.
- Confessions of a Mask , by Yukio Mishima (1958)
- This autobiographical novel, regarded as Mishima's finest book, is the haunting story of a Japanese boy's development toward a homosexual identity during and after World War II.
- Death in Venice and Other Tales by Thomas Mann (1911)
- Emphasizing the sexual fascination apparent in the original German, an acclaimed translator presents a new translation of one of the twentieth century's greatest novellas. In this tale, Gustav von Auschenbach, a respected author and pillar of his community goes on vacation in Venice, where a closeted Cholera outbreak is being concealed to prevent hurting the tourist business. There, he becomes infatuated with and essentially begins to stalk Tadzio, a Polish youth who is staying with his family in the same hotel.
- Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin (1956)
- Baldwin's second novel, daring for its time, depicts a young man deep into Paris's second expatriate movement following World War II as he grapples with his sexual identity. He is drawn both to his fiancée and to a male Italian bartender with whom he begins an affair.
- Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig (1979)
- In an Argentine prison, the growing friendship between a thirty-seven-year-old homosexual, Molina, and a young Marxist, Valentin, is threatened when police officials start pressuring Molina to spy against Valentin. Later made into an outstanding film starring William Hurt and Raul Julia.
- Maurice by E.M. Forster (1971)
- Published posthumously decades after it was written, Maurice was the first English-language literary masterpiece of the gay liberation movement. It articulates the homosexual ideologies of Edwardian England in a taut romance of lasting beauty. Clive Durham and Maurice Hall, two young men of the middle classes, struggle with priggish ideals which, ultimately, drive them apart; yet the novel -- with impassioned optimism -- offers the gay cannon its first "happy ending."
- Nightwood by Djuna Barnes (1937)
- Nightwood , a classic of lesbian literature, was acknowledged by T. S. Eliot as one of the 20th century's greatest novels. Eliot admired Barnes' rich, evocative language and readers will admire Barnes' penetrating insights into obsessive passion. Barnes told a friend that Nightwood was written with her own blood "while it was still running." That flowing wound was the breakup of an eight-year relationship with the love of her life.
- Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote (1948)
- Published when Truman Capote was only 23, Other Voices, Other Rooms is a literary touchstone of the mid-20th century. In this semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel, Joel Knox, after losing his mother, is sent from New Orleans to live with the father who abandoned him at birth. But when Joel arrives at Skully's Landing, the decaying mansion in rural Alabama, his father is nowhere to be found. Instead, Joel meets his morose stepmother, his eccentric cousin, and a defiant girl named Idabel, who offers Joel love and approval.
- Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown (1973)
- Rubyfruit Jungle is the first milestone novel in the extraordinary career of Rita Mae Brown, one of this country's most distinctive writers. Rubyfruit Jungle , both bawdy and moving, is the ultimate word-of-mouth bestseller. It is a simple yet radical story about growing up a lesbian in America -- and living happily ever after.
- Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin (1994)
- This book chronicles the lives of the inhabitants of a fictional apartment building at 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco, during the mid seventies. The building is owned by the eccentric but matronly Anna Madrigal. Several of the main characters are Gay and Lesbian, but in some cases it is a surprise. There are many references to 1970's American pop culture, gay culture, and local details of San Francisco. The characters are very endearing, and the text is light and warm. Made into a well-received TV miniseries for PBS in 1993, featuring Olympia Dukakis.
- Three Lives by Gertrude Stein (1909)
- Gertrude Stein, as a college student at Radcliffe and Johns Hopkins, was privileged; yet she saw around herself women who were trapped by poverty, class and race. Her portraits of Anna and Lena are realistic depictions of immigrant women who had no occupational choice but to become domestic workers. This collection of documents from the history of women's suffrage, medical history, modernist art, and literature enables readers to see how radical Stein's subject was.
An annotated gay bibliography from GenXCelt.
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