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Reading List: Pride 2017

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 14.54.05Ariel: A Literary Life of Jan Morris (Faber and Faber)
Derek Johns

Jan Morris is one of the great British writers of the post-war era. Soldier, journalist, writer about places, elegist of the British Empire, novelist, she is best known to many for her candid memoir Conundrum, which described the gender reassignment operation she underwent in 1972. But, as Ariel demonstrates, this is just one of the many remarkable facts about her life. Derek Johns was Jan Morris’s literary agent for twenty years, and Ariel is a literary life, an appreciation of the work and achievements of someone who besides being a delightful writer is known to many as a generous, affectionate, witty and irreverent friend.

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 14.53.50Selected Poems (Faber and Faber)
Thom Gunn

Thom Gunn has been described as ‘one of the most singular and compelling poets in English during the past half-century’ (TLS). This Selected Poems, compiled by his friend Clive Wilmer and accompanied by insightful notes, is the first edition to represent the full arc of Gunn’s inimitable career.

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 14.55.58Angels in America (Nick Hern Books)
Tony Kushner

Set in 1985, this two-part play by Tony Kushner tells the story of  six New Yorkers whose lives are brought together It revolves around the tragic story of Prior Walter, a gay man living with AIDS. Prior, visited by ghosts of his ancestors and abandoned by his lover after his diagnosis with, is wondering if he is still sane when the angels select him to be their prophet. With a climax as bittersweet as it is beautiful, we are left wondering who the real angels are in a disparate world.

 

 

argonautsThe Argonauts (Melville House)
Maggie Nelson

At the centre of The Argonauts is the love story between Maggie Nelson and the artist Harry Dodge, who is fluidly gendered. As Nelson undergoes the transformations of pregnancy, she explores the challenges and complexities of mothering and queer family making. Writing in the tradition of public intellectuals like Susan Sontag, Nelson uses arresting prose even as she questions the limits of language. The Argonauts is an intrepid voyage out to the frontiers of love, language, and family.

 

 

What Belongs to YouWhat Belongs to You (Picador)
Garth Greenwell

On an unseasonably warm autumn day, an American teacher enters a public bathroom beneath Sofia’s National Palace of Culture. There he meets Mitko, a charismatic young hustler, and pays him for sex. He returns to Mitko again and again over the next few months, their relationship growing increasingly intimate and unnerving. As he struggles to reconcile his longing with the anguish it creates, he’s forced to grapple with his own fraught history: his formative experiences of love, his painful rejection by family and friends, and the difficulty of growing up as a gay man in southern America in the 1990s.

 

Miaojin-Last-Words-from-MontmartreLast Words from Montmartre (NYRB)
Qui Miaojin
Translate by Ari Larissa Heinrich

When the pioneering Taiwanese novelist Qiu Miaojin committed suicide in 1995 at age twenty-six, she left behind her unpublished masterpiece, Last Words from Montmartre. Unfolding through a series of letters written by an unnamed narrator, Last Words tells the story of a passionate relationship between two young women – their sexual awakening, their gradual break-up, and the devastating aftermath of their broken love. In a style that veers between extremes, from self-deprecation to pathos, compulsive repetition to rhapsodic musings, reticence to vulnerability, Qiu’s genre-bending novel is at once a psychological thriller, a sublime romance, and the author’s own suicide note.