10 International LGBTQIA+ Reads

10 LGBT International

Pride month may be over but that seems like a good reason to keep promoting LGBTQIA+ literature. I mostly read books by Western women of color because I seek out stories of marginalization at the intersection of gender and race. But I want to read more of the experiences of marginalized people from other countries and cultures, too. Since I cannot choose my reading freely at the moment, I love to make tbr lists of what to read when I’m done with uni. I know, procrastination, but you all get to take a peek:

Miaojin last word from montmatre

Last Words From Montmatre by Qio Miaojin (Taiwan)

Posthumously published, this is a short epistolary novel about heartbreak, female sexuality, language and transnational Asian identity. Warning for what is apparently an experimental and modernist style.


The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe)

Set in post-apartheid Zimbabwe, this book follows the rivalry and friendship of two hairdressers and takes a hard look at illegality and attitudes towards homosexuality. Have read it and can absolutely recommend it!

Black Bull, Ancestors and Me

Black Bull, Ancestors and Me by Nkunzi Zandile Nkabinde (South Africa)

This is a memoir of a sangoma, about life as a revered healer but also the difficult position of being a lesbian in a South African community. Resh, I think this is the healer book I was talking about!

twelve views

Twelve Views from the Distance by Matsuo Takahashi (Japan)

This is the memoir of the poet Takahashi about poverty, boyhood in rural Japan and becoming aware of his attraction to men before Western images of homosexuality were more widespread.

stone of laughter

The Stone of Laughter by Hoda Barakat (Lebanon)

Set around the Lebanese civil war, the novel follows a young gay man, Khalil, as he tries to escape political and military affiliations. This is said to be the first Arabic book with a gay main character, I had no idea.


Lovetown by Michal Witkowski (Poland)

This one’s from Poland and about the clash between two generations of gay men, those who grew up in the age of communism and aids and the younger ones enjoying a post-communist world.

Red Azalea

Red Azalea by Anchee Min (China)

Min’s memoir about the last days of Mao’s China, being sent to work in a labor collective, finding solace in a relationship with another woman and then being recruited to work as an actress.

The Ucle's Story

The Uncle’s Story by Witi Ihimaera (New Zealand)

The book is about the story of both Michael Manahan and the titular uncle Sam, who fought in Vietnam and fell in love with an American soldier. Ihimaera writes about war, love and homophobia and the spaces for being gay in Maori and Western culture.


 Out! Stories From the New Queer India by Minal Hajratwala, ed. (India)

With the change in laws, more Indian stories about being ‘queer’ have been published and Hajratwala here collects different short stories about the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community in India. The anthology features established and emerging writers.

pillar of salt

Pillar of Salt by Salvador Novo (Mexico)

This is the memoir of Salvador Novo, a man of letters, about growing up during and after the Mexican revolution, coming to literature and living as an openly gay man in Mexican society.

Have you read any of these works? Or can you recommend more?

Sadly, this list skews towards the tragic, so I’d love recommendations that go beyond that single story. But perhaps it also shows what gets translated and what gets published. Getting LGBTQIA books out is obviously more difficult in some societies than others, but I’m glad I found some available in a language I can read, though I am curious to see what might have been translated into German, since Germany publishes a lot of translations, luckily.

50 thoughts on “10 International LGBTQIA+ Reads

  1. I’m very thankful for your procrastination, as I get to benefit in such an awesome way. 🙂 Sadly, I have to admit that I hadn’t heard of a single one of these books before. Happily, I now get to add them all to my wish list. And in fact, before I even commented I went and put a hold on The Hairdresser of Harare. Tempted to go read your review right now, but am going to try to wait until after I’ve read the book. Thanks yet again Bina!

    1. Aw thank you, Debi! 🙂 I hadn’t known about most of these books either, so it’s good I finally did some research! Oh yay, I do hope you’ll like The Hairdresser. Haha yes, I sometimes wait with reading a review, too, and I think in this case it’s good to go in as blindly as possible 🙂 Happy reading!

  2. Yay! Love your lists! Haven’t read any but am gonna add them to my tbr list. I did however once attend a reading that Anchee Min did in Singapore. I just remember it being rather odd that she seemed to be performing it rather than reading. And yet I still haven’t read any of her books.

  3. Oh also I saw this book at the library yesterday. It’s called Beijing Comrades. It’s described in the NYT review as such:
    Perhaps the best-known work to arise from China’s gay, or “comrade,” literature (tongzhi wenxue) movement in the 1990s, “Beijing Comrades” (or “Beijing Story”) elicited enormous admiration — and outrage — when it was published online. It has never appeared in print in mainland China, and the author’s true identity has never been established. Which is no surprise: The novel’s extreme candor extends from its long and unabashed sex scenes to its matter-of-fact descriptions of the Tiananmen massacre and the rise of the “princeling” economy, in which the sons and daughters of elite Communist Party cadres built state-protected business empires in the 1980s and ’90s, establishing much of the oligarchy that controls China today.

    1. That’s so interesting, that she performed rather than read her work! Lucky you, getting to see that 🙂 I haven’t read her works yet either, but I’ll get to them.
      That sounds so fascinating, thanks for telling me about Beijing Comrades. It sounds so good and love the politics- sexual and economic! On my tbr it goes 🙂

  4. I’ve seen the hairdresser novel mentioned a few times on blogs, and I really want to read it! I love hairdressers! The culture of hair and who does it is so interesting to me. I also like the sounds of the one set in China. I’ll check now to see if my library has them. Thanks, Bina!

        1. Wahoo, I found Red Azalea at another library! Why am I chronicling my library adventures for everyone? Who knows–it’s sunny out, and I feel spirited 😀

          1. Heh I’m glad I saw this when your book hunt already had a happy ending! 🙂 Yay for your libraries and I had no idea there was a sequel, need to put that on my tbr too! Hope you’ll enjoy The Hairdresser, too, there’s definitely some hair culure going on, but more personal and political relationships.

  5. You know I am always willing to read more LGBTQ books! So thanks so much for putting this one together.
    I believe I’ve seen you recommend the Hairdresser novel before, and I’m interested! Exposure works on me without fail, I must say. When I see a new book for the first time, even if I find it fascinating, I may not immediately be set on reading it until other people start talking about it or until it’s brought up repeatedly by the same person. The latter strategy is what I’m using to promote Juliet Takes a Breath 😀

    I heard about Out! in Vijayalakshmi’s blog, so this is the second time I’ve seen it now and it’s starting to crawl up my TBR. 🙂 I have never read a Queer narrative set in India, so it’s going to be a must-read eventually.

    The first few months this year I neglected LGBTQ books, but have more than made up for it the last couple of months. I hope to read at least 1 every month forever!

    1. Yay, glad to provide more LGBTQ lit 🙂 I definitely need to read more, especially qpoc lit is on my tbr.
      Yeah I reviewed The Hairdresser and definitely recommended it. Haha good to know that that is a strategy that works with you! 😀 I really hope it works with Juliet, it’s such a gem.
      Heh I’m horrible and always want to do the opposite when something feels forced on me so when I see a book everywhere I’m likely to not read it for a while. But trusty blogger friends and their recs are the exception 🙂 It’s just the reason why I rarely read hyped books and usually only when the hype has died down 😀

    1. I hope lots of people have recommended The Hairdresser, it’s a good read and an important book 🙂 Hope you’ll enjoy it! Thanks so much for sharing the poster! There’s definitely some intriguing tites there that I need to check out!

  6. Great list Bina. I have not read any of these. The cover of the hairdresser book strikes me because it reminds me of Americanah for some reason. I hope many who are looking for diverse reading list would find this one.

    1. Thanks, Resh! The Black Bull book is the one about traditional healers that I was talking about 🙂 It is a lovely cover design, isn’t it? I caught my eye, too, and hope it will help people to pick it up.

  7. This looks like a great list. I haven’t read any of them. Most of the books I read are by western authors (I will correct that!).

    1. I have the same problem! I think 2017 needs to be my international woc year 🙂 Hope you find something good on this list.

  8. Never heard any of these, but like everyone else, I am adding Hairdresser of Harare to my TBR – also Last Words From Montmatre because OMG I am such a sucker for epistolary novels!

    1. Heh yay, glad to get everyone to read it! 🙂 YES, epistolary novels! I’m assuming you’ve read Ella Minnow Pea, but throwing it out there just in case.

  9. Thanks for your great list. We all need this. I have a couple of other books to add and recommend. See reviews on my blog mdb.wordpress.com

    Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta. Nigerian lesbian growing up and coming of age.
    Wave, by Hoa Pham. Lesbians from Vietnam and Japan at college in Australia.
    Remember the Tarantella, by Finola Moorhead. Classic, global lesbian fantasy.
    My Beautiful Enemy, by Cory Taylor. Gay Australian and Japanese men.
    The Gilda’s Stories, by Jewelle Gomez.. Black lesbian vampire.
    Borderlands, La frontera, The New Mestiza, by Gloria Anzaldúa. Classic Latina Lesbian

    1. Thanks for stopping by and love the recs! 🙂 Okparanta is on my list! Gomez and Anzaldúa are the best, but not on the list cause they’re US-based and US-lit. But the others sound awesome and hadn’t heard of them, so thank you, will definitely look them up!

  10. What an amazing list! You always come up with so many books that I haven’t heard of before. While I have read books with queer characters in them, it isn’t a lot and I’m looking at expanding my reading. So this is a fantastic list to have. Thanks!

    1. Thanks so much! I’m trying to read more queer lit as well, so went looking for books to ass to the tbr 😀 Happy to add to everyone else’s tbr, too. And if you get to the Indian queer anthology before me, it would be so awesome to hear your thoughts on it.

      1. I’ve been trying to get my hands on it but it’s out of stock everywhere I look 😞

        1. Aww that sucks, or maybe it’s cool everyone bought up the copies…? Anyway I hope stores will restock soon so you can get a copy 🙂

  11. Excellent list! The Hairdresser of Harare sounds particularly good, though unfortunately my libraries don’t have it in ebook which means I will have to wait until my next library trip to get it (sob). If only I had read this post this morning!

    1. Awww, my timing sucks! 😉 Hope you can get it on your next library trip though and hope you’ll like it. It’s a first novel, I think, and it’ll be great to see what Huchu publishes next.

  12. I also want to read ‘Last Words from Montmartre’ and ‘Red Azalea’. Have you seen a movie called ‘Strawberry and Chocolate’? It is a Cuban movie and one of my favourites. One of the main characters in the story is gay and he talks about books sometimes. One of the books he mentions is called ‘Paradiso’ by Jose Lezama Lima. I loved the movie do much that I searched for the book, was disappointed when I discovered that the English translation was out of print, and when it came back in print, I grabbed it! I have not read it yet, but I will read it soon, one of these days. The book is about a young man in Cuba, who is gay and explores his literary sensibilities and life in pre-Castro Havana. Wanted to share this story 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Vishy, glad you like the list! Thanks for recommending ‘Strawberry and Chocolate’, definitely have to check it out, have never heard of it, and also the book of course. How wonderful that you ended up finding a copy, I hope you’ll enjoy the book, sounds like it needs to go on my tbr as well!

  13. I’ve read Red Azalea, which is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. The story is incredible, like I can’t believe this was someone’s life incredible, and the writing is so beautiful, in this very different way that I think only a non-native speaker of English could do. I highly recommend it!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Casey! You make Red Azalea sound irresistible, I need to get my hands on a copy 🙂 And the language use sounds quite interesting, always love to see what other non-native speaker do with language.

  14. Even though everyone else has already said it, thanks for compiling this list! I’m always interested in seeing what’s being published around the world, but don’t always have time to do the searching myself. That’s what other book blogs are for, right?
    It’s such an interesting question – why most of these books are tragic. I suppose because for so long, it was something to hide and be ashamed of. It’s amazing to me that a way of life that has been around for as long as humans have been around has taken so long to become accepted. I hate to think what that says about us. Which stories have been published/translated is also a good question. Think of all the stories that would have been rejected. What a loss. But to avoid ending my comment on a sad note, look at all the ones that are out there if you look for them! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your lovely comment, Naomi, sorry it takes me ages atm to reply!!
      Heh definitely, we should all research our interests and share! You are my go to person for Canadian lit for example 😃 Oh yes it is so sad and I hope at some point queer lit will be mostly celebratory and not tragic around the world. But you’re right there are such wonderful books published and hopefully us reading and blogging about them will lead to more!

  15. What a wonderful list. I had heard of the Hairdresser of Harare, yet to get to it though. Thanks for the reminder.

  16. wow, great list! I’ve not read the Hairdresser of Harare, but I met the author at Barelit and he was lovely. I’d be really interested in your take on The Stone of Laughter, have you read it yet? I heard about a fantastic book called Mina by Sahar Mandour about a Lebanese actress who is outed as gay and has to flee her country that I’m really looking forward to reading too. x

    1. That is so great, utterly jeaous! 🙂
      No I haven’t read it yet, need to push Stone of Laughter up on the tbr! Oooh thanks so much for the rec that sounds like an important read. Also when I googled it once hit was to a link on Arab link titles Here’s to blowing savior literature off the shelves! ❤ Apparently after a tweet by Egyptian writer Yasmin El-Rifae. (I am now officially allowed to google without a deadline looming 😀 ) So definitely will be wanting to read it!

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