LGBTQ Books: These 5 Novels We’re Reading This Summer

The many sex scenes and the complicated relationship between the masochistic Olivia and her lover and boss, the wealth manager Nathan Gallagher, are reminiscent of the romance between student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and billionaire Christian Gray (Jamie Dornan) in “50 Shades of Grey “. But “Big Favors” is a lot more than erotic entertainment literature. Eve, from whose point of view the story is told, constantly reflects on her own sexuality. What does it mean to be queer? Where does lesbian love end, where does bisexuality begin? And does that even matter?

But it’s not just about queer ideas about sexbut also about heterosexual behavior patterns and female lust in general. The three lovers test their emotional, moral and sexual limits, moving on the border between pleasure and mental pain. Jealousy and sadomasochistic lust play a role. Similar to Sally Rooney’s novels (“Normal People”), the characters move on a very privileged stage, which is sometimes a bit one-sided. Still, “Big Favors” is a smart read.

In the final part, Eve’s personal insights are shown in a different light, as she suddenly finds herself in the middle of one MeeToo process again. A change of sides that underlines the dangerous line between desire and domination and keeps the readers happy until the end. Oh, and there’s also a life hack on how to properly peel carrots!

4. Forbidden Love: “Under the Udala Trees” by Chinelo Okparanta

Certainly not easy summer reading, but a sensitively told coming-out story from Nigeria.

Admittedly, lighthearted summer reading is the LGBTQ book “Under the Udala Trees” (2018) by Chinelo Okparanta Not. But a haunting novel that deserves attention. Eleven-year-old Ijeoma was living with her parents in Ojoto when the Biafra region in south-eastern Nigeria declared its independence in 1967 and war broke out. The girl’s father is killed in a bomb attack, after which her mother sends her to a couple of friends to work as a domestic help. Here Ijeoma, a Christian Igbo, meets her first love. But the war orphan Amina of the same age is a Muslim Haussa, so it belongs to a rival ethnic group. And: Openly lived out homosexuality is life-threatening in Nigeria.

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“Under the Udala Trees” by Chinelo Okparanta

In her debut novel, Chinelo Okparanta sensitively and impressively describes the tender, socially taboo love between the two young women. The author, who has been living in the USA for years, tells the story in pictorial language tragic coming out story. Being a teenager is difficult enough. But discovering your sexuality in the midst of war and a deeply homophobic, repressive environment must be torture.

When the war ended in 1970, Ijeoma returned to her mother, not entirely involuntarily. The staunchly religious Adaora, who believes her daughter is demon-possessed, tries to set her on what she thinks is the “right” path through Bible lessons. But the smart Ijeoma interprets the passages differently: “What if Adam and Eve were merely symbols of a partnership?” she wonders. In the shop her mother runs, she meets Ndidi, a young teacher, who introduces her to the small, local, naturally hidden LGBTQIA+ community. Ironically, one serves Church as a secret meeting place.