Five recent prize winning LGBTQIA2S+ books

It’s Pride Month! In honour of celebrating Pride Month, I’ll be sharing some LGBTQIA2S+ book recommendations. Keep checking in each week for more recommendations.

LGBTQIA2S+ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit, and plus (anyone who doesn’t fit into one specific category)


For Pride Month, I wanted to share some award winning / nominated books that feature LGBTQIA2S+ characters or themes.

I know there are awards specifically centred on LGBTQIA2S+ themes, such as the Stonewall Book Award and Lambda Literary Awards. These are wonderful awards and are important for highlighting the literary success of LGBTQIA2S+ authors.

Awards focused on specific topics or types of authors, are incredibly important for acknowledging literary work that the publishing industry doesn’t give enough credit to. It’s one way to help increase their power within the publishing industry.

For this list, I specifically looked for books that won awards outside of the LGBTQIA2S+ category. I wanted to show that books with LGBTQIA2S+ characters and authors are winning awards in all areas of the literary world.

I think it’s important to recognize when themes or topics are becoming more accepted into the mainstream. One way to see their acceptance is when they start winning “mainstream” awards, aka awards without that specific theme or topic.

I believe both types of awards are important. Topic specific themes help highlight individuals pushing boundaries, and broader awards can help expose people to a wide range of books that they might not otherwise look for.

I specifically focused on broader awards to show that these books are gaining recognition more broadly, as well as to show that representation in these big awards is slowly changing.

This list is obviously not extensive, but below you will find five LGBTQIA2S+ books that were either long-listed or won a recent prize.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Five recent prize winning or nominated LGBTQIA2S+ books

Here’s a list of five recent prize winning (or long-listed for a prize) LGBTQIA2S+ books.

  1. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (2011)
  2. Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (2019)
  3. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (2019)
  4. Loveless by Alice Oseman (2020)
  5. Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters (2021)

Keep reading to find out more about each one. I’ve listed them in order of when they were published.

Song of Achilles (2011)

by Madeline Miller

  • Year Published: 2011
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, fantasy, lgbtqia+, literary, adventurous, emotional, sad, medium-paced
  • Winner of the 2012 Orange Prize (now The Women’s Prize for Fiction)

Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful, irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.

Links:

Girl, Woman, Other (2019)

by Bernadine Evaristo

  • Year Published: 2019
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, contemporary, lgbtqia+, literary, emotional, reflective, medium-paced
  • Co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize

Teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood

Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.

Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.

Links:

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (2019)

by Ocean Vuong

  • Year Published: 2019
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, contemporary, lgbtqia+, literary, emotional, reflective, sad, slow-paced
  • Finalist for the 2020 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and was longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness,

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.

With stunning urgency and grace, Ocean Vuong writes of people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are. The question of how to survive, and how to make of it a kind of joy, powers the most important debut novel of many years.

Links:

Loveless (2020)

by Alice Oseman

  • Year Published: 2020
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, contemporary, lgbtqia+, young adult, emotional, hopeful, reflective, medium-paced
  • Depicts an individual who is asexual and aromantic
  • Won the YA Book Prize in 2021

It was all sinking in. I’d never had a crush on anyone. No boys, no girls, not a single person I’d ever met. What did that mean?

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.

As she starts university, Georgia makes a plan to find love. But when her actions wreak havoc among her friends she questions why romance seems so easy for other people yet not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.

Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

Links:

Detransition, Baby (2021)

by Torrey Peters

  • Year Published: 2021
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, contemporary, gender, lgbtqia+, literary, challenging, emotional, reflective, medium-paced
  • Praised for crafting a tender exploration of gender, parenthood, love, and trans life
  • Nominated for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction (controversial as Peters was the first openly trans woman nominated for the award)

A whipsmart debut about three women—transgender and cisgender—whose lives collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires around gender, motherhood, and sex.

Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn’t hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.

Ames isn’t happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese—and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she’s pregnant with his baby—and that she’s not sure whether she wants to keep it—Ames wonders if this is the chance he’s been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family—and raise the baby together?

This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can’t reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.

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Final thoughts

I hope you found something of interest in this list of books.

I’m always looking for more suggestions of books to read. I’d love to know which books you love or that you would recommend. Let me know in a comment below!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.