Recommendations that Celebrate the BIPOC Community for Pride Month
By Michelle Ye, Shaniah Shields and Leanne Francis
To celebrate Pride month 2023, we have compiled some of our top LGBTQIA+ book recommendations. From heartfelt romances to choosing our own names, these books are a reminder of the power of community, of uplifting our voices, of finding our family and sharing our histories.
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
Shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, Real Life is an abundant debut literary novel. This campus novel follows Wallace, a Black biochemistry student in the Midwest, over the course of one weekend as he grapples with grief, alienation and desire. Real Life is a character study and Wallace is tenderly and intricately portrayed throughout. Taylor intimately dissects themes of race, sexuality and friendship against the backdrop of a Midwestern university. Taylor stresses the nuances and anxieties of our humanity as Wallace embarks on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance. Taylor has eloquently crafted what I predict to be a modern classic and one you need to add to your to be read pile. His latest novel The Late Americans is out on 22 June 2023.
The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar
Named Best Book of the Year by Bustle, Zeyn Joukhadar’s award-winning novel is a tender portrayal of love, loss, identity and found family. The Thirty Names of Night takes place five years after the death of a Syrian-American trans boy’s ornithologist mother. One night, he finds the journal of a Syrian-American artist named Laila Z, who dedicated her career to painting birds. Laila Z's story also reveals the histories of queer and transgender people within his own community that he never knew. The Thirty Names of Night “is a story of memory and migration,” of honouring the people who came before and of choosing our own names.
We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib
We Have Always Been Here is a powerful memoir of hope, faith and love. Named one of Riot’s 100 Most Influential Queer Books of All Time, this inspirational story of being queer and Muslim is heartfelt and honest. The book charts Habib’s story from growing up in Pakistan to her arrival in Canada as a refugee. We Have Always Been Here “is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt alone and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one’s truest self.” Thoughtful and passionate, this story will help so many people feel seen and is a must read.
All Kinds of Other by James Sie
All Kinds of Other details the journey of two boys as they navigate the manifold obstacles of determining who they are. Starting his sophomore year in high school, Jules is coming to terms with being gay and trying to decide when (and whether or not) to come out to his family and to the wider school community. Placed alongside Jules is Jack, who has travelled across America to be with his father and leave his past behind him, but the unexpected release of a video reveals that Jack is trans. Sie does not shy away from the realities of transphobia and additionally incorporates an awareness of intersectional identities through his multiracial characters. For another work of self-discovery, Sie’s Still Life Las Vegas (a Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best Gay Fiction) cannot be missed.
The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
Adiba Jaigirdar brings us a “complicated but heart-warming enemies-to-lovers story” in The Henna Wars, published in 2021. Nishat and Flávia run rival henna businesses at school. When Nishat, a Muslim girl, comes out to her parents, she is met with disapproval. Nishat does not want to lose her family, nor hide who she is. As Nishat and Flávia’s lives become entangled, they get caught up in a whirlwind of confusing emotions. Amidst the rivalry, sabotage and school stress, Nishat still cannot get rid of her crush on Flávia, making her wonder whether to stay true to herself and find happiness, or live the life her parents want for her. The Henna Wars is a heartfelt debut about love, identity and challenging the beliefs of those around you.
Fantasy and Science Fiction
Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki
Winner of the 2021 Otherwise Award and nominee for various other literary awards, Ryka Aoki’s Light From Uncommon Stars is a sparkling work of friendship, love, strength and music. Shizuka Satomi is a violin teacher who has made a deal with the devil: she must deliver the souls of seven prodigious violinists, and she has one more to go. Along comes Katrina Nguyen, a talented young trans woman running away from home. And finally, Lan Tran, a donut-maker who is also a retired starship captain and extra-terrestrial refugee. These disparate lives gravitate towards each other, becoming irrevocably intertwined in Aoki’s love letter to those trying to find a place for themselves amongst the infinite stars.