If you’re a poetry fan, “Madness” by Sam Sax (Penguin Books, Sept. 12) is a stunning debut collection that interrogates our understanding of heterosexuality, sanity, masculinity and addiction. Sax, a queer Jewish writer and educator, draws on his personal and family mental health history to confront these difficult themes with fearlessness and candor.
In his latest conceptual series, “Beautiful Berlin Boys” (Kehrer Verlag, Sept. 12), Iranian American photographer, Ashkan Sahihi, pays homage to the gay creative community ravaged by the AIDS epidemic in 1980s New York City through nude photographs of gay artists in modern-day Berlin. In compiling the spare, intimate portraits, Sahihi discovered a haunting familiarity in his subjects, who recall the gay avant garde of his past while representing the newest generation of gay men in what he considers today’s creative capital.
“True Sex: the Lives of Trans Men at the Turn of the Twentieth Century” by Emily Skidmore (NYU Press, Sept. 19) tells the overlooked stories of 18 trans men who assimilated into small town communities during the late 1800s. Skidmore pieces together reports from local newspapers, medical journals and other sources to offer queer narratives that were not cosmopolitan or subversive, but rather quite ordinary, challenging our preconceived notions of community, rural identity and who we think of as trans or queer.
Amidst political uncertainty surrounding LGBT rights, “Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America” by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding (Picador, Oct. 3) is an inspiring collection of essays from leading feminist writers who describe how we got here and how we can resist. Featured essays include Samantha Irby on living as a queer black woman in rural America, Randa Jarrar on cross country travel as a queer Muslim woman and Meredith Taulson on feminism and the transgender community, among many others.
“The Book of Love and Hate,” a new novel from Lambda Literary Award winner Lauren Sanders (Akashic Books, Oct. 3) tells of of protagonist Jennifer Baron encounters with queer Palestinians in Israel while searching for her missing father.
Also out that day is “TELL: Love, Defiance and the Military Trial at the Tipping Point for Gay Rights” by Maj. Margaret Witt with Tim Connor (ForeEdge, Oct. 3), a personal account of Witt’s decorated military career and the path to the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for LGBT servicemembers.
Any true Sasha Velour fan already has “Drags” (Kmw Studio, Oct. 16) set to preorder. Shot by photographer Gregory Kramer, the collection features hyper-glam black and white, full-length studio portraits of New York City’s drag kings and queens. “Drags” also includes essays by some of the photo subjects themselves: Charles Busch, Linda Simpson, Goldie Simpson, and of course, the ever-scholarly Sasha.
With recipes written as deliciously as they taste, “The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook: Indian Spice, Oakland Soul” by Preeti Mistry and Sarah Henry (Running Press, Oct. 31) has already sent the foodie world into a frenzy well beyond the Bay Area. Mistry, a gay Indian American chef beloved for her big personality, provides a contemporary spin on the traditional Indian cooking she grew up with in this eclectic collection of street food, comfort classics and haute cuisine.
Andrea Lawlor’s debut novel, “Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl” (Rescue Press, Nov. 1), offers a witty and raucous portrait of LGBT radicalism during the early ‘90s. The story follows Paul Polydoris, who studies queer theory and writes provocative zines when not tending bar at the local gay club. Lawlor portrays an exhilarating picaresque hero whose identity seesaws from Riot Grrl to leather cub as he parties through era staples, such as the Michigan Womyn’s Festival.
As a blend of memoir, true crime and ghost story, “Mean” by Myriam Gurba (Coffee House Press, Nov. 14) is difficult to categorize, but hilarious and poignant at every twist and turn. Gurba, a spoken-word performer and visual artist, tells her own coming of age story as a queer, mixed-race Chicana in California. “Mean” tackles themes of sexual violence, racism and homophobia with brassiness and heart as multilayered as Gurba’s approach to genre.
“Every Night is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” (BMG, Nov. 14), written alongside Scott B. Bomar, is the long-awaited autobiography of Wanda Jackson, the legendary “Queen of Rockabilly,” “First Lady of Rock & Roll” and treasured gay icon. Jackson shares personal stories on her relationship with Elvis Presley, her faith and the challenges she faced in bringing sex appeal to country music and femininity to Rock & Roll. The book also features a foreword by Elvis Costello.
In need of some playlist inspiration? “David Bowie Made Me Gay” by Darryl W. Bullock (The Overlook Press, Nov. 21) is a highly comprehensive history of LGBT music, spanning a century from early jazz and blues to today’s most recognizable pop stars out of the closet. Bullock meticulously chronicles the LGBT community’s vast influence on music through a historical lens, revealing how society’s oscillation between acceptance and persecution has shaped what we listen to today.
In “Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity” (University of Minnesota Press, Dec. 5), C. Riley Snorton uncovers the obscured or erased narratives of black trans women in the United States, beginning with the mid-19th century and continuing through present-day oppression and resistance. Snorton, a professor of Africana studies and feminist, gender and sexuality studies at Cornell University, builds on early sexological writings, fugitive slave stories, Afro-modernist literature and other materials to craft this essential account of black trans history.
Other releases of note include:
• “Murder Under the Fig Tree: A Palestine Mystery,” by Kate Jessica Raphael (She Writes Press), is a murder mystery novel that draws Rania Bakara, a Palestinian policewoman, deep into the underground Palestinian gay scene as she investigates the death of young man in a village adjacent to her own. The book is $16.95 and releases Sept. 19.
• “The Ultimate Guide to Gay Dads: Everything You Need to Know About LGBT Parenting But Are (Mostly) Afraid to Ask,” by Eric Rosswood (Mango), is a generous resource for gay and bisexual men who are thinking about starting a family together. The guide is $13.85 and releases Oct. 24.
• “Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity among Men” by Ritch C. Savin-Williams (Harvard University Press) is a biological, empirical and psychological research-based exploration of the personal stories of 40 young men who identify as sexually fluid or “mostly straight.” The book is $27.95 and releases Nov. 3.
• “Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic,” by Richard A. McKay (University of Chicago Press), investigates the introduction of the term “patient zero” into the popular lexicon during the 1980s AIDS epidemic. The book thoughtfully traces the life of Gaëtan Dugas, who was incorrectly identified (and vilified) as the first AIDS case in North America. It is $24.91 and releases Nov. 15.