Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2013. We’ve selected it as one of the posts we’re republishing for our 10th anniversary celebrations in May 2017.
Here’s the thing: “LGBT” is not a genre, but if you walk into any big chain bookstore, you’ll likely to find a “Gay and Lesbian” shelf in the literature section. Works of fiction that heavily feature queer themes are often ghettoized, only placing an unfortunate stigma on indelible pieces of writing that, while attracting a small group of readers, only serves to alienate others. While we’re still waiting for queer literature’s mainstream acceptance — The Great Gay Novel, if you will — there have been numerous novels and plays published in the last century that have illuminated the multifaceted queer experience among a diverse, wide-reaching community. While this list is no way a definitive canon of the best in queer literature, it does include some essential works that can provide entertainment, introspection, and comfort to those who identify as queer or straight.
Angels in America by Tony Kushner
This monumental work by playwright Tony Kushner — staged on Broadway in two three-hour parts, but collected here in a single volume — is one of the most important pieces of theatre in the last 50 years.