These are hundreds of these lists circulating, but for anyone who’s interested, these are my favourite books of the past year, ranked in order of preference. With those that have been recently published, there is probably a longer review of the title on my blog.
By Lawrence Osborne
A gay couple throw an excessive weekend party at their Moroccan desert retreat. But driving there, one of their guests runs over and kills a Moroccan youth. This is a sinister, suspenseful, and extraordinarily well-observed novel that subtly explores cultural differences.
THE DAYLIGHT GATE
By Jeanette Winterson
Winterson brings her extraordinary command of language and her novelist’s eye to a truly fascinating real historical event – the trial of the Lancashire Witches in 1612. This is highly atmospheric, original, and gripping historical fiction.
DROPPED NAMES: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them
By Frank Langella
Langella is an accomplished writer with a sharp wit and his book is a series of short profiles of various famous people that he knew or encountered (64 in total), many of them actors. Anyone with an interest in Hollywood, Broadway, and the rich and famous will revel in this witty, candid insider’s guide to this world. Particularly amusing are his anecdotes about various actors exercising their egos.
THE ART OF FIELDING
By Chad Harbach
This 500 page novel ‘about baseball’ took this debut author ten years to write, but amongst two of the book’s five main characters, a charming and surprising same-sex romance arises. 60-year old lifelong bachelor Guert Affenlight falls hopelessly in love with Owen, an openly gay, mixed race student on the baseball team.
THE PATERNITY TEST
By Michael Lowenthal
Michael Lowenthal wades into the unexplored territory (in fiction) of gay men having a child through surrogacy. This is a highly readable and fascinating exploration of a complex tangle of issues and a convincing portrait of several struggling marriages, both gay and straight.
THE UNREAL LIFE OF SERGEY NABOKOV
By Paul Russell
Paul Russell imagines the life of Sergey Nabokov, the little-known younger gay brother of Vladimir. Sergey grows up in aristocratic privilege in St Petersburg and his burgeoning homosexuality is largely tolerated by his family. Yet Sergey’s fate hovers over this highly atmospheric account – he was sent to a Nazi concentration camp where he died in 1945.
JACK HOLMES AND HIS FRIEND
By Edmund White
Set in 1960s New York, this novel explores a friendship between two men − one gay, one straight − over several decades. White charts the ups and downs of this friendship, candidly documenting their sex lives, until the spectre of AIDS, forces Jack the libertine and his fledgling straight protégé, to chart a different course.
GAYSIA: Adventures in the Queer East
By Benjamin Law
This is a highly readable, informative and fascinating blend of travel narrative and reportage exploring GLBT life in seven Asian countries. Law avoids the clichés and zeroes in on some interesting and more offbeat topics and personalities.
By Sandi Toksvig
Set against the second Boer War at the turn of the 20th century, this atmospheric novel focuses on three major characters: Valentine Grey, a free-spirited young woman, raised in India, who feels stifled when obliged to adapt to the obligations of London society lifestyle; her lively cousin, Reggie, who she eventually discovers is homosexual; and his older more experienced lover, Frank, who works as an actor.
THE TRAPEZE ARTIST
By Will Davis
Will Davis utilises his aerialist background to create a work that is fresh, unique and compelling. He unfolds the life of an unnamed gay male narrator at three different stages of his life through three separate narrative strands. The novel becomes increasingly intriguing as the three strands advance and entwine, culminating in a very satisfying and surprising climax.