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The Line of Beauty, Rubyfruit Jungle & Zami : The 25 Best LGBT Novels of All Time

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7. The Line of Beauty, by Alan Hollinghurst
Alan Hollinghurst famously questioned the future of the gay novel this year, which is striking since he's often viewed as helping make queer books accessible to a mainstream audience. His 2004 novel broke through in a major way — The Line of Beauty won that year's prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction.

Hollinghurt was praised for his expert command of the English language and his flawless re-creation of upper-class British society and conservative political circles of the 1980s. Hollinghurst set his pen on the sexual hypocrisies of homophobic politicians, many of whom had their own indiscretions behind closed doors. The book follows Nick Guest, a gay graduate student unofficially adopted by the family of a schoolmate. Nick gets a sneak peek at the aristocracy, while indulging in no shortage of sex and party favors; the fun comes to a crashing halt as AIDS enters the fray. Amid all the human drama, there's an amusing and memorable cameo from the Iron Lady. "Captures a vitally important era in lovely prose" is how Night Drop's Marshall Thornton describes Hollinghurst's most acclaimed book.

8. Rubyfruit Jungle, by Rita Mae Brown
Many queer female writers see Rita Mae Brown's 1973 coming-of-age book as an iconic work of LGBT literature: "[I love Rubyfruit Jungle] because, well, because. I think this was the first 'lesbian' book I ever read! And devoured. And loved," writes The Year of Needy Girls' Patricia Smith. Yolanda Wallace, author of Tailor-Made, tells us, "When I was a teenager questioning my sexuality, this book provided the answers I was looking for."

Semi-autobiographical, Rubyfruit Jungle follows Molly Bolt's amorous adventures from childhood to adulthood, including a stint in swinging New York City. While Molly has sexual adventures with men, her true love is women, and Brown never shies away from describing Molly's insatiable passion for the ladies (the title perfectly captures Molly's zeal for female anatomy). Now assigned in many queer literature courses, Rubyfruit Jungle is brazen and brave; its frank discussion of lesbian sexuality can seem shocking to modern readers who imagine life in the early 1970s was less raunchy. Rubyfruit Jungle is a page-turning reminder that queer lust and queer sex are timeless.

9. Zami, by Audre Lorde
"She calls it a biomythography and leads us through a heart-wrenching account of the black lesbian experience." – SJ Sindu, Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction Winner

This 1982 autobiography by the iconic queer black poet Audre Lorde is an experience of intersectionality, in a genre of intersections. Lorde classified it as biomythography, which combines history, biography, and myth.

A fierce love letter to the strength women have given her throughout her upbringing, the book explores her challenges growing up blind in 1930s Harlem, fighting for dignity in the heat of Jim Crow, and finding a voice in the New York City lesbian bar scene.

While books like The Price of Salt show lesbians walking away from motherhood, Zami celebrates the beauty of when mothers stay through the harshest of challenges.

advocate.com

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