2011 Year in Review: Books

NOVELS OF NOTE

Kate Christensen‘s The Astral was about a middle-aged man who was separated from his wife. One of his only friends is his lesbian daughter, a bike riding freegan.

Laurie WeeksZipper Mouth reads as a memoir, but is only partially based on the author’s life as a young dyke in 1990s New York City. It was as an official book club selection for literary site The Rumpus in December and Eileen Myles wrote the blurb for the cover.

Heather O’Neill wrote in her review of Zipper Mouth:

Weeks’ language is sharp and lyrical. The prose is fast paced and manic, embodying the narrator’s spiral and struggle with addiction — both to drugs and to Jane.

In Hilary Jordan‘s When She Woke, the protagonist is punished for having an abortion in a future world by being forced to bear the color red. She becomes a revolutionary and meets a lesbian anarchist whom she takes an interest in, albeit briefly.

Nina Revoyr‘s Wingshooters came out on indie press Akashic Books won the Indie Booksellers Choice Award this year. The coming-of-age story is both political and personal, and a great read about dealing with cultural differences.

And in the graphic novel realm, Batwoman wowed with four issues of story and substance as well as incredible comic drawings. Not only was it good, but it was super gay, too. In fact, the most recent issue — #4 — showed us the most intimate scene we’ve had from Batwoman so far, and it was worth the wait.

Heather Hogan said of the latest issue:

The pacing is perfect, the art and coloring are incomparable, and the story just keeps getting better.

YOUNG ADULT

Sister Mischief by Laura Goode is a book of a different kind, which is why it was so popular this year among gay women. A teen lesbian rapper is at the center, and she attends a Christian high school in Minnesota. That’s just ripe with possibilities in itself.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray is all about aspiring, well, beauty queens and one of them is a lesbian. It’s received rave reviews and might be for young adults, but people of all ages seem to enjoy it.

Malinda Lo‘s Huntress is the prequel to her first novel, Ash. Fans of the previous book enjoyed Lo’s tale of lesbian love and lore, which Lo told us was more difficult to write than Ash.

Most of the parts of Huntress that I love the most were extremely hard for me to write. I love to write romantic scenes, but making the romance work was so hard! I love to write action, but I put the characters in some really hairy situations that even required me to diagram out what was happening (like little football charts). I’m very proud of what I’ve done with this book, though. I learned a lot!

Two other YA titles that received good reviews: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner about a17-year-old in love with her friend and Flick, where the main character is an unapologetic young lesbian, by Geraldine Mead.

THE FUTURE

In 2012, we can look forward to The Last Nude by Ellis Avery, a fictional account based on the lesbian artists that lived in 1920s Paris. Also, Beth Ditto‘s forthcoming memoir, Coal to Diamonds, which she wrote with Michelle Tea. Jeanette Winterson‘s memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? promises to be as endearing as it is entertaining, as indicated by early reviews. It comes out in January. Carol Anshaw will be releasing her next novel in the new year. Carry the One comes out March 6.

We’re also likely to see more books from lesbian authors on e-Readers as well as on lesbian-owned presses like Bywater, Bella, Arsenal Pulp and Cleis Press. And as LGBT and feminist bookstores continue to try and keep their doors open despite the dwindling economy, please consider them for all of your book buying needs.

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