Read Proud: Notable Fiction for Adults

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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh engages all of our communities in literacy and learning. Check out the titles below for some current fiction picks that feature LGBTQ characters and ask your local librarian for more.

The Clothesline Swing

This is a journey through the troublesome aftermath of the Arab Spring. A former Syrian refugee himself, Ramadan unveils an enthralling tale of courage that weaves through the mountains of Syria, the valleys of Lebanon, the encircling seas of Turkey, the heat of Egypt and finally, the hope of a new home in Canada. Inspired by One Thousand and One Nights, this book tells the epic story of two lovers anchored to the memory of a dying Syria. One is a Hakawati, a storyteller, keeping life in forward motion by relaying remembered fables to his dying partner. Each night he weaves stories of his childhood in Damascus, of the cruelty he has endured for his sexuality, of leaving home, of war, of his fated meeting with his lover. Meanwhile Death himself, in his dark cloak, shares the house with the two men, eavesdropping on their secrets as he awaits their final undoing.

Freshwater

Freshwater tells the story of Ada, an unusual child who is a source of deep concern to her southern Nigerian family. Young Ada is troubled, prone to violent fits. Born “with one foot on the other side,” she begins to develop separate selves within her as she grows into adulthood. And when she travels to America for college, a traumatic event on campus crystallizes the selves into something powerful and potentially dangerous, making Ada fade into the background of her own mind as these alters–now protective, now hedonistic–move into control. Written with stylistic brilliance and based in the author’s realities, Freshwater dazzles with ferocious energy and serpentine grace.

For Today I Am a Boy

At birth, Peter Huang is given the Chinese name Juan Chaun, “powerful king.” To his parents, newly settled in small-town Ontario, he is the exalted only son in a sea of daughters, the one who will finally fulfill his immigrant father’s dreams of Western masculinity. Peter and his sisters grow up in an airless house of order and obligation, though secrets and half-truths simmer beneath the surface. At the first opportunity, each of the girls lights out on her own. But for Peter, escape is not as simple as fleeing his parents’ home. Though his father crowned him “powerful king,” Peter knows otherwise. He knows he is really a girl. With the help of his far-flung sisters and the sympathetic souls he finds along the way, Peter inches ever closer to his own life, his own skin, in this darkly funny, emotionally acute, stunningly powerful debut.

Less

Who says you can’t run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

QUESTION : How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER : You accept them all.

What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.

Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.

Little Fish

It’s the dead of winter in Winnipeg and Wendy Reimer, a thirty-year-old trans woman, feels like her life is frozen in place. When her Oma passes away Wendy receives an unexpected phone call from a distant family friend with a startling secret: Wendy’s Opa (grandfather) — a devout Mennonite farmer — might have been transgender himself. At first she dismisses this revelation, but as Wendy’s life grows increasingly volatile, she finds herself aching for the lost pieces of her Opa’s truth. Can Wendy unravel the mystery of her grandfather’s world and reckon with the culture that both shaped and rejected her? She’s determined to try.

No One Can Pronounce My Name

In a suburb outside Cleveland, a community of Indian Americans has settled into lives that straddle the divide between Eastern and Western cultures. For some, America is a bewildering and alienating place where coworkers can’t pronounce your name but will eagerly repeat the Sanskrit phrases from their yoga class. Harit, a lonely Indian immigrant in his mid forties, lives with his mother who can no longer function after the death of Harit’s sister, Swati. In a misguided attempt to keep both himself and his mother sane, Harit has taken to dressing up in a sari every night to pass himself off as his sister. Meanwhile, Ranjana, also an Indian immigrant in her mid forties, has just seen her only child, Prashant, off to college. Worried that her husband has begun an affair, she seeks solace by writing paranormal romances in secret. When Harit and Ranjana’s paths cross, they begin a strange yet necessary friendship that brings to light their own passions and fears.

No Other World

In a rural community in Western New York, twelve-year-old Kiran Shah, the American-born son of Indian immigrants, longingly observes his prototypically American neighbors, the Bells. He attends school with Kelly Bell, but he’s powerfully drawn–in a way he does not yet understand–to her charismatic father, Chris.

Kiran’s yearnings echo his parents’ bewilderment as they try to adjust to a new world. His father, Nishit Shah, a successful doctor, is haunted by thoughts of the brother he left behind. His mother, Shanti, struggles to accept a life with a man she did not choose–her marriage to Nishit was arranged–and her growing attachment to an American man. Kiran is close to his older sister, Preeti–until an unexpected threat and an unfathomable betrayal drive a wedge between them that will reverberate through their lives.

As he leaves childhood behind, Kiran finds himself perpetually on the outside–as an Indian American torn between two cultures and as a gay man in a homophobic society. In the wake of an emotional breakdown, he travels to India, where he forms an intense bond with a teenage hijra, a member of India’s ancient transgender community. With her help, Kiran begins to pull together the pieces of his broken past.

Pages for Her

Pages for Her is the story of two women, Flannery and Anne, each at a personal turning point, and the circumstances that lead to their reunion. Twenty years after their brief but passionate affair, chronicled in Sylvia Brownrigg’s earlier novel Pages for You , Flannery has the chance once again to meet Anne, who opened young Flannery up to the possibility of love–then left her heartbroken.

Having long ago put their love behind them, they live now on opposite coasts. Anne has been in a deep, childless partnership with a fellow scholar, Jasper, who recently left her. Flannery, to her own surprise, married a charismatic artist named Charles, with whom she has a young daughter. Submerged by her husband’s demands and personality and her adjustment to motherhood, Flannery has lost sight of herself and her work. When the two women meet at a conference, they find that the passion and understanding between them has endured, though it has been hidden. In rediscovering each other, they are able to rediscover themselves.

Pages for Her is an exhilarating, passionate work that explores marriage, sexuality, and the transformative power of love over time.

Speak No Evil

On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, D.C., he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But Niru has a painful secret: he is queer–an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders–and the one person who seems not to judge him.

When his father accidentally discovers Niru is gay, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.

Sugar Run

In 1989, Jodi McCarty is seventeen years old when she’s sentenced to life in prison. When she’s released eighteen years later, she finds herself at a Greyhound bus stop, reeling from the shock of unexpected freedom but determined to chart a better course for herself. Not yet able to return to her lost home in the Appalachian Mountains, she heads south in search of someone she left behind, as a way of finally making amends. There, she meets and falls in love with Miranda, a troubled young mother living in a motel room with her children. Together they head toward what they hope will be a fresh start. But what do you do with your past–and with a town and a family that refuses to forget, or to change?

When Katie Met Cassidy

Katie is living the New York dream. She’s engaged to a charming art curator, has successfully made her way up the ladder at a multinational law firm, and has a hold on apartments in Soho and the West Village. She has come a long way from her Kentucky upbringing. But the rug is swept from under Katie when she is suddenly dumped leaving her completely lost. On a whim, she agrees to have a drink with Cassidy Price – a self-assured, sexually promiscuous woman she meets at work. The two form a newfound friendship, which soon brings into question everything Katie thought she knew about sex – and love.