I have always considered myself lucky in that I enjoy reading almost any genre and so have a wealth of books to choose from. There are ones I’m less keen on, such as erotica and chick lit and one I don’t like reading at all, horror! But I like to try most genres.
LGBT related fiction has become a firm favourite in the last few years and its nice that writers are bringing this into the mainstream.
Patrick Gale and Sarah Waters are two writers who have given LGBT characters a voice.
Water’s Paying Guests is a superbly written study of a love affair between two women in 1920s London. Short listed for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for fiction and named the ‘Fiction Book of the Year’ by the Sunday Times, its a novel with many themes; the role of women in post WWI society, forbidden love and the crippling grief, that seemed to hold British Society in its grip in the years following the war.
Patrick Gale’s most recent novel A Place Called Winter has been featured on Radio 2 Book Club Choice and short listed for the Costa Novel Prize among others. Loosely based on a mystery from the writers own family, we are given a glimmer into the lives of gay men lost to history. Men who emigrated to the colonies rather than subjecting their families to the shame of society knowing they were gay and facing themselves the real threat and horror of a prison sentence. Many such men were forced to do so by family members because they risked their position in ‘acceptable society’. The tragedy of these men is beautifully described in Gale’s story of Harry Crane, who is banished to a brutal life on a farming settlement in Canada. Helen Dunmore author of The Lie, sums up what this novel represents in her review of the book in The Guardian On-Line, Friday 10th April 2015…. “This fascinating novel is their elegy”.
Gale gives a voice to such men through Harry Crane, as Waters gives women, both gay and straight a voice in Paying Guests. Both books also touch on wider themes, such as love, sacrifice and empowerment, but importantly they give a place in mainstream publishing to LGBT characters. No longer restricted to a small section in the corner of a bookshop, they are gaining a foothold in the world of best selling novels.