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.

Links:

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.

Five books worth the hype

Have you gotten caught up in the booktok or booktuber worlds?

Do you wonder which books are really worth the hype from the book influencers?

I’ve gotten back into reading a lot in the past few years. I’ve always loved reading, but haven’t always made it a priority. And I have to admit that book influencers have definitely helped me fall back in love with reading.

I love that so many people are reading more and starting conversations about books. I love how much more mainstream reading has become and that people are able to craft careers around talking about books. I think it’s a lovely gift that social media has given us.

But that being said, there are a lot of books that get hyped up but may not live up to the hype, or may not be our personal taste.

I’ve put together some of the big books that I believe are genuinely worth the hype.

Photo by Laura Kapfer on Unsplash

Five books worth the booktok hype

Here’s a list of five books from booktok that I believe are worth the hype.

  1. Babel by R.F. Kuang
  2. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin\
  3. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
  4. Upstream by Mary Oliver
  5. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Keep reading to find out more about each one. I’ve order them from newest to oldest by publication date.

Babel (2022)

by R.F. Kuang

  • Year Published: 2022
  • Storygraph Categories: fiction, fantasy, historical, literary, challenging, dark, emotional, medium-paced
  • Talks about the difficulties and nuances of translating literature

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation—also known as Babel. The tower and its students are the world’s center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver-working—the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars—has made the British unparalleled in power, as the arcane craft serves the Empire’s quest for colonization.

For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide . . .

Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence?

Links:

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (2022)

by Gabrielle Zevin

  • Year Published: 2022
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, contemporary, literary, emotional, reflective, sad, medium-paced
  • Important to note, there have been some criticisms of how the author portrays a physical disability and uses it during the story.

In this exhilarating novel by the best-selling author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry two friends–often in love, but never lovers–come together as creative partners in the world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy, duplicity, and, ultimately, a kind of immortality.

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

Links:

Piranesi (2020)

by Susanna Clarke

  • Year Published: 2020
  • Storygraph Categories:
    fiction, fantasy, literary, adventurous, mysterious, reflective, medium-paced
  • Winner of the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

Links:

Upstream (2016)

by Mary Oliver

  • Year Published: 2016
  • Storygraph Categories:
    nonfiction, essays, literary, nature, inspiring, reflective, relaxing, slow-paced

Comprising a selection of essays, Upstream finds beloved poet Mary Oliver reflecting on her astonishment and admiration for the natural world and the craft of writing.

As she contemplates the pleasure of artistic labor, finding solace and safety within the woods, and the joyful and rhythmic beating of wings, Oliver intimately shares with her readers her quiet discoveries, boundless curiosity, and exuberance for the grandeur of our world.

This radiant collection of her work, with some pieces published here for the first time, reaffirms Oliver as a passionate and prolific observer whose thoughtful meditations on spiders, writing a poem, blue fin tuna, and Ralph Waldo Emerson inspire us all to discover wonder and awe in life’s smallest corners.

Links:

The 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:

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 booktok/booktube books you think are worth the hype. Let me know in a comment below!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of the book?

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

Achilles and Patroclus

Photo by Jocelyn Morales | Accessed on Unsplash.com

This is an excerpt from the book The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

You must not go. I almost said it, a thousand times. Instead I held his hands fast between mine; they were cold, and very still.

‘I do not think I could bear it,’ he said, at last. His eyes were closed as if against horrors. I know he spoke not of his death, but of the nightmare Odysseus had spun, the loss of his brilliance, the withering of his grace. I had seen the joy he took in his own skill, the roaring vitality that was always just beneath the surface. Who was he if not miraculous, and radiant? Who was he if not destined for fame?

‘I would not care,’ I said. The words scrabbled from my mouth. ‘Whatever you became. It would not matter to me. We would be together.’

‘I know,’ he said quietly, but did not look at me.

He knew, but it was not enough. The sorrow was so large it threatened to tear through my skin. When he died, all things swift and beautiful and bright would be buried with him. I opened my mouth, but it was too late.

‘I will go,’ he said. ‘I will go to Troy.’

The rosy gleam of his lip, the fevered green of his eyes. There was not a line anywhere on his face, nothing creased or greying; all crisp. He was spring, golden and bright. Envious Death would drink his blood, and grow young again.

He was watching me, his eyes as deep as earth.

‘Will you come with me?’ he asked.

The never-ending ache of love and sorrow. Perhaps in some other life I could have refused, could have torn my hair and screamed, and made him face his choice alone. But not in this one. He would sail to Troy and I would follow, even into death. Yes, I whispered. Yes.

Relief broke in his face, and he reached for me. I let him hold me, let him press us length to length so close that nothing might fit between us.

Tears came, and fell. Above us, the constellations spun, and the moon paced her weary course. We lay stricken and sleepless as the hours passed.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

The Song of Achilles – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

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.

Copyright © 2011 by Madeline Miller

More details on Goodreads can be found here.