As longtime followers of Dialogue Books will know, we are committed to amplifying voices from outside the mainstream and sharing stories from underrepresented communities. This Pride, we wanted to share our LGBTQIA+ reading recommendations – books that we are so honoured to platform and authors we are immensely proud to publish. If you’re looking to diversify your bookshelves, this list is a great place to start . . .
by Paul Mendez
AN OBSERVER TOP TEN DEBUT 2020
'Sensuous and thrillingly well written', Observer
'When did you last read a novel about a young, black, gay, Jehovah Witness man from Wolverhampton who flees his community to make his way in London as a prostitute? This might be a debut, but Mendez is an exciting, accomplished and daring storyteller with a great ear for dialogue. Graphic Erotica Alert! Don't read this book if you like your fiction cosy and middle-of-the-road' Bernardine Evaristo, winner of the 2019 Booker Prize for Girl, Woman, Other
'The kind of novel you never knew you were waiting for. An explosive work that reels from sex, to sin, to salvation all the while grappling with what it means to black, gay, British, a son, a father, a lover, even a man. A remarkable debut' Marlon James, Booker Prize winning author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf
'This debut cements Mendez as a stunning new voice in fiction' Cosmopolitan
Rainbow Milk is an intersectional coming-of-age story, following nineteen-year-old Jesse McCarthy as he grapples with his racial and sexual identities against the backdrop of a Jehovah's Witness upbringing and the legacies of the Windrush generation.
In the Black Country in the 1950s, ex-boxer Norman Alonso is a determined and humble Jamaican who has moved to Britain with his wife to secure a brighter future for themselves and their children. Blighted with unexpected illness and racism, Norman and his family are resilient in the face of such hostilities, but are all too aware that they will need more than just hope to survive.
At the turn of the millennium, Jesse seeks a fresh start in London - escaping from a broken immediate family, a repressive religious community and the desolate, disempowered Black Country - but finds himself at a loss for a new centre of gravity, and turns to sex work to create new notions of love, fatherhood and spirituality.
Rainbow Milk is a bold exploration of race, class, sexuality, freedom and religion across generations, time and cultures. Paul Mendez is a fervent new writer with an original and urgent voice.
by Brit Bennett
THE SUNDAY TIMES TOP BESTSELLER
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE ORWELL PRIZE
'An utterly mesmerising novel..I absolutely loved this book' Bernardine Evaristo, winner of the Booker Prize 2019
'Epic' Kiley Reid, O, The Oprah Magazine
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' story lines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.
An Ordinary Wonder is a story of the courage needed to be yourself.
Oto leaves for boarding school with one plan: excel and escape his cruel home. Falling in love with his roommate was certainly not on the agenda, but fear and shame force him to hide his love and true self.
Back home, weighed down by the expectations of their wealthy and powerful family, the love of Oto's twin sister wavers and, as their world begins to crumble around them, Oto must make drastic choices that will alter the family's lives for ever.
Richly imagined with art, proverbs and folk tales, this moving and modern novel follows Oto through life at home and at boarding school in Nigeria, through the heartbreak of living as a boy despite their profound belief they are a girl, and through a hunger for freedom that only a new life in the United States can offer.
An Ordinary Wonder is a powerful coming-of-age story that explores complex desires as well as challenges of family, identity, gender and culture, and what it means to feel whole.
by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah
The Sex Lives of African Women uniquely amplifies individual women from across the African continent and its global diaspora, as they speak of their diverse experiences of sex, sexualities and relationships.
Many of the women who tell their stories in this collection recall the journeys they have travelled in order to own their own sexualities. They do this by grappling with experiences of child sexual abuse, resisting the religious edicts of their childhood, and by asserting their sexual power.
From finding queer community in Egypt to living a polyamorous life in Senegal to understanding the intersectionality of religion and pleasure in Cameroon to choosing to leave relationships that no longer serve them, these narratives are as individual and illuminating as the women who share them.
The Sex Lives of African Women provides a deep insight into women's quest for freedom, highlights the complex tapestry of African women's sexuality, and bestows upon all women inspirational examples to live a truly liberated life.
'Niven Govinden's Diary of a Film, his sixth novel, is also his best yet. Smart, sexy and cinematic (in many senses), it is a love letter to Italy and to film' Observer
'Immersive . . . This is a wise and skilfully controlled novel that can be read in an afternoon, but which radiates in the mind for much longer' Financial Times
'A beautiful, poignant novel of love and longing' Telegraph
An auteur, together with his lead actors, is at a prestigious European festival to premiere his latest film.
Alone one morning at a backstreet café, he strikes up a conversation with a local woman who takes him on a walk to uncover the city's secrets, historic and personal. As the walk unwinds, a story of love and tragedy emerges, and he begins to see the chance meeting as fate. He is entranced, wholly clear in his mind: her story must surely form the basis for his next film.
This is a novel about cinema, flâneurs, and queer love - it is about the sometimes troubled, sometimes ecstatic creative process, and the toll it takes on its makers.
But it is also a novel about stories, and the ongoing question of who has the right to tell them.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE GORDON BURN PRIZE 2019
'A true force of fierceness and beauty' OLIVIA LAING
'A vital book' ANDREW MCMILLAN
'This Brutal House leaves its reader full of a powerful, protesting energy' IRISH TIMES
'A powerful and poetic book' KERRY HUDSON
On the steps of New York's City Hall, five ageing Mothers sit in silent protest. They are the guardians of the vogue ball community - queer men who opened their hearts and homes to countless lost Children, providing safe spaces for them to explore their true selves.
Through epochs of city nightlife, from draconian to liberal, the Children have been going missing; their absences ignored by the authorities and uninvestigated by the police. In a final act of dissent the Mothers have come to pray: to expose their personal struggle beneath our age of protest, and commemorate their loss until justice is served.
Watching from City Hall's windows is city clerk, Teddy. Raised by the Mothers, he is now charged with brokering an uneasy truce.
With echoes of James Baldwin, Marilynne Robinson and Rachel Kushner, Niven Govinden asks what happens when a generation remembered for a single, lavish decade has been forced to grow up, and what it means to be a parent in a confused and complex society.
WINNER OF THE POLARI FIRST BOOK PRIZE 2019
FEATURED ON THE GUARDIAN'S BEST BOOKS OF 2018
'One of the feminist novels of 2018' Stylist
'Handmaid's Tale-shaped hole in your life? Read XX' The Times
'A pacy dystopian thriller' Red Magazine
'A phenomenal debut' Skinny
'Emotionally compelling' Lauren Wilkinson
HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO FOR A CHILD OF YOUR OWN?
When Rosie and Jules discover a ground-breaking clinical trial that enables two women to have a female baby, they jump at the chance to make history.
Fear-mongering politicians and right-wing movements are quick to latch on to the controversies surrounding Ovum-to-Ovum (o-o) technology and stoke the fears of the public. What will happen to the numbers of little boys born? Is there a sinister conspiracy to eradicate men at play?
In this toxic political climate, Jules and Rosie try to hide their baby from scrutiny. But when the news of Rosie's pregnancy is leaked to the media, their relationship is put under a microscope and they're forced to question the loyalty of those closest to them, and battle against a tirade of hate that threatens to split them apart...
SHORTLISTED FOR THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE 2020
'A magnificent novel, full of wit, warmth and tenderness' Andrew McMillan
'Smart, serious and entertaining' Bernardine Evaristo
How do you begin to find yourself when you only know half of who you are?
As Nnenna Maloney approaches womanhood she longs to connect with her Igbo-Nigerian culture. Her once close and tender relationship with her mother, Joanie, becomes strained as Nnenna begins to ask probing questions about her father, who Joanie refuses to discuss.
Nnenna is asking big questions of how to 'be' when she doesn't know the whole of who she is. Meanwhile, Joanie wonders how to love when she has never truly been loved. Their lives are filled with a cast of characters asking similar questions about identity and belonging whilst grappling with the often hilarious encounters of everyday Manchester.
Okechukwu Nzelu brings us a funny and heart-warming story that covers the expanse of race, gender, class, family and redemption, with a fresh and distinctive new voice. Perfect for fans of Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams and Zadie Smith's White Teeth.
'Effortlessly capture[s] the tricky nuance of life, love, race, sexuality and familial relationships' Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie
'Edifying and hilarious, The Private of Joys of Nnenna Maloney is a beautiful debut that you won't want to put down' Derek Owusu
by Zaina Arafat
A novel of self-discovery following a Palestinian-American girl as she navigates queerness, love addiction and a series of tumultuous relationships' The Millions, One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year
Told in vignettes that flash between the US and the Middle East, Zaina Arafat's powerful debut novel traces her protagonist's progress from blushing teen to creative and confused adulthood.
In Brooklyn, she moves into an apartment with her first serious girlfriend and tries to content herself with their comfortable relationship. Soon, her longings, so closely hidden during her teenage years, explode out into reckless romantic encounters and obsessions with other people which results in her seeking unconventional help to face her past traumas and current demons.
Opening up the fantasies and desires of one young woman caught between cultural, religious and sexual identities, You Exist Too Much is a captivating story charting two of our most intense longings - for love, and a place to call home.