'Shirts and Skins' by Jeffrey Luscombe

In his debut novel, Jeffrey Luscombe brings us back to a place we haven’t seen much of in recent literature:  the closet. In an era when many gays come out in their teens, the protagonist of Shirts and Skins remains resolutely in the closet until his thirties. Luscombe thus offers an intriguing, at times disturbing,… read more

'If I Told You So' by Timothy Woodward

Timothy Woodward’s debut novel If I Told You So (Kensington) chronicles experiences familiar to many queer folks: the nervous, terrified thrill of accepting yourself, of coming out, of falling in love for the first time and realizing that who you are is not a passing phase. For sixteen-year-old Sean Jackson, these are packed into one summer, and… read more

'Lightning People' by Christopher Bollen

A fun fact about lightning: a strike lasts for about 30 microseconds.

Lightning People starts with a similar flash. The narrator of the prologue, Joseph Guiteau, speaks in conspiratorial terms, suggesting a link between a rise in lightning-related Manhattan-area deaths and the fall of the Twin Towers. … read more

'Chulito' by Charles Rice-González

This dazzling debut takes the coming-out, coming-of-age narrative and gives it a fresh landscape, namely, the Bronx urban scene, where the street codes are “mixed into the concrete and asphalt that was used to build the neighborhood.”… read more

'We the Animals' by Justin Torres

Justin Torres’ We the Animals  (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) is all the best one hopes to encounter in a young author’s debut novel: all the raw emotion just past processing the wounds accumulated during adolescence, all the nostalgia for life as it was then mixed with the realizations of the convoluted beauty life reveals itself to be,… read more

'The Dirty One' by Michael Graves

Set in the declining town of Leominster, Massachusetts in the 1980s, Michael Graves’ blistering debut collection Dirty One (Chelsea Station Editions) depicts the harrowing lives of working-class adolescents on the verge…. read more

'The Two Krishnas' by Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla

If the point of a writer’s biographical note is to make it sound like the writer is busy, then Los Angeles-based Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla’s biography certainly does the trick. The Two Krishnas (Magnus Books)  is Dhalla’s sophomore outing… read more

'Moffie' by Andre Carl van der Merwe

Like every gay boy in 1970s South Africa, Nicholas van der Swart must hide that part of himself that is different from other boys, especially from his father. Nicholas grew up fearing his tyrannical father, an abusive Afrikaner devoted to apartheid and all things manly. And Nick grew up being ashamed of himself, thinking he… read more

'Quarantine' by Rahul Mehta

You’ve heard the story before, right? Second generation immigrant from [insert country] works twice as hard to fulfill his parents’ dreams, hiding his own desire and bearing the brunt of assimilation—until everyone sees him Bend It, marvelously. To Rahul Mehta’s credit, such Hollywood clichés are turned on their heads in his serene, lingering story collection,… read more

'The VIPs' by Scott Poulson-Bryant

The VIPs (Broadway Books/Random House), Scott Poulson-Bryant’s first novel, is no let-down. The author must have spent many a night watching soap-operas and mini-series’ in the 80s. If so, it paid off. He writes with ease and an eager pace, giving you season-finale style cliff-hangers after every chapter. … read more