Lambda Literary Staff Picks for 2022
Author: Suzi Garcia
December 16, 2022
As we say goodbye to 2022, we are reflecting on a year of amazing books, workshops, retreats, conversations and more. We could not help but say thank you to just a few of the fantastic books that we loved during 2022.
Samiya Bashir, Executive Director
“I had out-trolled myself once again,” warns Brontez Purnell’s opening to “Boyfriend #666: The Satanist.” There’s an easy intimacy to the voice and gaze in the stories that make up 100 Boyfriends. Throughout, Purnell flexes his uniquely sharpened quill with a storytelling style that hits me like the best hang-out, deep-dish fest I never want to end.
Writer, performer, scholar, professor Gabrielle Civil’s ( ghost gestures ) performance writing collects performance texts from nearly 20 years worth of internationally staged work in which the subjective “she” “explore(s) and navigate(s) public space” across for. Here the literary impulse meets image meets the body – ghosted yet ever ectoplasmically present.
- Particle & Wave: A Conversation by Daniel Alexander Jones and Alexis Pauline Gumbs, 53rd State Press 2021
Another formal flex finds Daniel Alexander Jones and Alexis Pauline Gumbs flex form once again here taking the now-familiar digital form of the Zoom Conversation and making it new with a snap-back into analog. Throughout Particle & Wave: A Conversation, these two writers, readers, thinkers, scholars, performers, and long-time friends talk books, cake, style, and art all with the kind of alt-text incursions that bring the visual context of these intimate moments to the page.
Nightboat has reissued yet another classic with their 40th anniversary publication of The Faggots & Their Friends Between Revolutions by Larry Mitchell & Ned Asta. Feeling both nostalgic and neverending, this facsimile edition comes packed with both new essays and archival materials which showcase the faggots and their friends living and loving and working together to survive a brutal empire in decline.
Monica Carter, LGBTQ Writers in Schools Manager
Douglas Stuart’s follow up to Booker winner Shuggie Bain may seem like it covers similar ground – working class glasgowan setting and an alcoholic mother – but it’s very different than his debut. This an achingly tender yet brutal novel about toxic masculinity, homophobia, and family. It’s the penultimate novel of how much love hurts.
- Moldy Strawberries by Caio Fernando Abreu, translated by Bruna Dantas Lobato, Archipelago Books 2022
Original published in Brazil in 1982, thes dazzling short stories immersive responses to a Brazilian society living through the AIDS crisis and the millitary dictatorship. Amdist that backdrop, Abreu jumps into characters living outside the margins and or working in a office, all seeking connection if even for a moment, a night.
Lesbian drama set in wartime London. Enough said.
L. D. Lewis, Director of Programs & Operations
Always a fan of RFK’s work. Dark academia centering translation and our cultural relationships to language and imperialism. I love a book that’s intensely knowledgeable about its subject matter, so if you’re into linguistics and fantasy, this’ll probably be high on your list as well. (And apparently it’s not for the faint of heart.)
- We’re Here: The Best Queer Speculative Fiction of 2021 edited by Charles Payseur and C. L. Clark, Neon Hemlock Press 2021
These were notable works of short fiction selected for how imaginative they were and how dynamically they explore a broad range of queer identity and experience beyond the confines of our world.
This title is forthcoming in 2023 from Neon Hemlock but I’m delighted to have read an advance version. Black gay romance, magic, and spycraft set in a gorgeous urban fantasy.
Chloe Feffer, Retreat Manager
Reading Edgar’s memoir felt like listening to a close friend recount their heartbreaking and often comical life story. By the time I was finished, I recommended it to all of my friends, and everyone agrees: Edgar, and the character they shape of themselves on the page, feels like the shady-as-hell and spirited friend whom you can count on to bring levity to even the darkest of moments.
This story of a trans woman’s coming of age in Argentina MOVED ME. A magically speculative autofiction novel, it simultaneously broke my heart and nourished my soul. Camilla speaks unwaveringly to found family, violence faced by trans women, thriving by any means necessary, and self-absolution in spite of it all. The magical elements in her world sink so effortlessly into the story, because, what is queerness if not magic?
This collection of stories has such a voice. It sings of queer ruralness, trans southern histories, and absurdity all wound and looped together into a chaotic yet cohesive song. Devoured it in one day and absolutely loved it.
Jada Foster, Program Coordinator
Ace of Spades was an addictive read full of jolting twist and turns! It follows two black students navigating a predominantly white institution filled with social hierarchies and gossip. This story dives into the negative effects of respectability politics, controlled perception, homophobia, classism, and racism. The plot twists throughout the book are so sharp, I could not count the amount of gasping I’ve done by the end.
- Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon, Quill Tree Books 2022
Blackout is a compilation of short love stories that beam in the midst of a blackout in New York City. This was a warm and fuzzy read that produced a number of audible “awww”s out of me. In particular, “Made to Fit” by Ashley Woodfolk provided warmth to my spirit. I don’t want to spoil anything, but having an ounce of love and support from elders while navigating the exploration of sexuality would be beautifully impactful.
Suzi F. Garcia, Review Manager
Muriel’s sophomore collection of poems stuns me. I am amazed at how nuanced and artistic this collection is, folding together discussions of family, self, COVID and more. This is a book that stays with you, aching deep in your heart.
I’ve been eagerly awaiting this collection, so I gobbled this book up in one sitting. These poems are voiced storytelling at its best, and I was absolutely invested in this distinct speaker.
- Delilah Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake, Berkley Book, 2022
I’m a sucker for a romance, and this one is the perfect escape. Turn off your brain and enjoy this cute little romcom.
Emmanuel Henderson, Awards Intern
Song of Achilles was an amazing read, every page made me a little misty eyed. There was both the young gay romance that I dreamed of experiencing when I was younger (and probably still a bit now), and the fact that it had all the things I love in a book from beautiful prose and internal struggles that make you ask yourself how you might react in the same position.
The Dark Beneath the Ice isn’t as focused on romance as Song of Achilles, though there is some. It is a pleasantly eerie read about a high school student experiencing what appears to be a possession while navigating the very emotional divorce of her parents and worse still—finals. Its a very satisfying layered semi-mystery too as you and the main character try to unravel the source of the haunting. Would recommend!
Mai Tran, Program Coordinator
The official blurb on the back of this book asks if you’re tired three separate times, and I was tired x3! Then I read it and now I am not. A great book critiquing white trans/gender theory and discourse.
A YA novel featuring Felix, a Black, queer, and transgender teen running around New York looking for love. A fantastic book if you’re into enemies to lovers, social media-fueled fiascos, and crying from cuteness.
I picked this up because I am a Gay Who Loves The Ocean and was delighted to find that it was full of wiggly aliens and body freaks. Sabrina Imbler uses anthropomorphism to explore the lives of ten sea creatures next to their own.