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The Great Believers

Rebecca Makkai

PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOK OF 2018
LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE WINNER
ALA CARNEGIE MEDAL WINNER
THE STONEWALL BOOK AWARD WINNER

Soon to Be a Major Television Event, optioned by Amy Poehler

"A page turner . . . An absorbing and emotionally riveting story about what it's like to live during times of crisis." --The New York Times Book Review

A dazzling novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico's funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico's little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

Named a Best Book of 2018 by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, NPR, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, The Seattle Times, Bustle, Newsday, AM New York, BookPage, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Lit Hub, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, New York Public Library and Chicago Public Library

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Taking Turns

MK Czerwiec

In 1994, at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, MK Czerwiec took her first nursing job, at Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, as part of the caregiving staff of HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371. Taking Turns pulls back the curtain on life in the ward.

A shining example of excellence in the treatment and care of patients, Unit 371 was a community for thousands of patients and families affected by HIV and AIDS and the people who cared for them. This graphic novel combines Czerwiec’s memories with the oral histories of patients, family members, and staff. It depicts life and death in the ward, the ways the unit affected and informed those who passed through it, and how many look back on their time there today. Czerwiec joined Unit 371 at a pivotal time in the history of AIDS: deaths from the syndrome in the Midwest peaked in 1995 and then dropped drastically in the following years, with the release of antiretroviral protease inhibitors. This positive turn of events led to a decline in patient populations and, ultimately, to the closure of Unit 371. Czerwiec’s restrained, inviting drawing style and carefully considered narrative examine individual, institutional, and community responses to the AIDS epidemic—as well as the role that art can play in the grieving process.

Deeply personal yet made up of many voices, this history of daily life in a unique AIDS care unit is an open, honest look at suffering, grief, and hope among a community of medical professionals and patients at the heart of the epidemic.

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Paper Cuts

Rick Karlin

Paper Cuts: My Life in Chicago's Volatile LGBTQ Press is the story of Rick Karlin's life writing for Chicago's newspapers, balancing that with his family life outside of it. Joining the staff at GayLife in 1978 gave Karlin a front-row seat at some of the momentous events in post-Stonewall LGBTQ history. From the privileged vantage point of a newspaper office, he watched the rise and fall of disco, the AIDS crisis, same-sex marriage, bars opening and closing, and LGBTQ newspapers coming and going. Like gossip columnists, Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, Karlin knew the dirt going on behind the scenes. ... Scratch the veneer of what Karlin calls his "so-called celebrity" and you will find a man of conviction, morals, and a keen sense of community. In short, Rick Karlin is a jewel in the crown of Chicago's LGBTQ press. In 1978 he dived into a polluted pool and, holding his nose, swam in it for decades. And Chicago is all the better for it.

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The Prettiest Star

Carter Sickels

One of 2020's most acclaimed books. Winner of the Southern Book Prize - Winner of the Weatherford Award - A Kirkus Best Fiction Book of 2020 - One of O Magazine's Best LGBT Books of 2020 - - One of the Women's National Book Association's 2020 Great Group Reads Selections - EW's 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2020 - BookRiot - Lambda Literary's - Salon - BookPage's - Garden & Gun's - Logo NewNowNext's

In this "brutally fresh kind of homecoming novel," (Entertainment Weekly) Brian Jackson returns to his small Appalachian hometown and the family who rejected him. Carter Sickels's stunning literary achievement "deserves a place in the canon of AIDS literature alongside the likes of Larry Kramer and Rebecca Makkai" (Los Angeles Review of Books).

The story of Brian's return to small-town Ohio is told in a chorus of voices: Brian's mother Sharon; his fourteen-year-old sister, Jess, as she grapples with her brother's mysterious return; and the video diaries Brian makes to document his final summer. Written in prose that seeks "to answer without flinching away from ugliness and without demonizing the ignorant" (Salon), The Prettiest Star offers an urgent portrait of a family in the center of a national crisis, in order to tell a unique story about the politics and fragility of the body, and to explore the bounds of family and redemption.

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Let's Get Back to the Party

Zak Salih

A Most-Anticipated Book of 2021: BuzzFeedThe Millions * Electric LiteratureLGTBQ Reads * Paperback Paris
One of Advocate's “22 LGBTQ+ Books You Absolutely Need to Read This Year”

“An intimate saga that brims with necessary conversations about cultural identity.”​ —O, The Oprah Magazine, “32 LGBTQ Books That Will Change the Literary Landscape in 2021”


It is 2015, weeks after the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, and all Sebastian Mote wants is to settle down. A high school art history teacher, newly single and desperately lonely, he envies his queer students their freedom to live openly the youth he lost to fear and shame.

When he runs into his childhood friend Oscar Burnham at a wedding in Washington, D.C., he can’t help but see it as a second chance. Now thirty-five, the men haven’t seen each other in more than a decade. But Oscar has no interest in their shared history, nor in the sense of be­longing Sebastian craves. Instead, he’s outraged by what he sees as the death of gay culture: bars overrun with bachelorette parties, friends cou­pling off and having babies. For Oscar, confor­mity isn’t peace, it’s surrender.

While Oscar and Sebastian struggle to find their place in a rapidly changing world, each is drawn into a cross-generational friendship that treads the line between envy and obsession: Se­bastian with one of his students, Oscar with an older icon of the AIDS era. And as they collide again and again, both men must reckon not just with one another but with themselves.

Provocative, moving, and rich with sharply drawn characters, Let’s Get Back to the Party in­troduces an exciting and contemporary new talent.
 

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Like a Love Story

Abdi Nazemian

Stonewall Honor Book * A Time Magazine Best YA Book of All Time

"A book for warriors, divas, artists, queens, individuals, activists, trend setters, and anyone searching for the courage to be themselves.”—Mackenzi Lee, New York Times bestselling author of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance...until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart—and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.

This is a bighearted, sprawling epic about friendship and love and the revolutionary act of living life to the fullest in the face of impossible odds.

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Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Carol Rifka Brunt

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Wall Street Journal • O: The Oprah Magazine • BookPage • Kirkus Reviews • Booklist • School Library Journal

In this striking literary debut, Carol Rifka Brunt unfolds a moving story of love, grief, and renewal as two lonely people become the unlikeliest of friends and find that sometimes you don't know you've lost someone until you've found them.

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • NAMED A FAVORITE READ BY GILLIAN FLYNN • WINNER OF THE ALEX AWARD

1987. There's only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that's her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn's company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June's world is turned upside down. But Finn's death brings a surprise acquaintance into June's life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn's funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn's apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she's not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I'm Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.

Praise for Tell the Wolves I'm Home

“A dazzling debut novel.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“This compassionate and vital novel will rivet readers until the very end. . . . The narrative is as tender and raw as an exposed nerve, pulsing with the sharpest agonies and ecstasies of the human condition.”BookPage

“Tremendously moving.”The Wall Street Journal

“Transcendent . . . Peopled by characters who will live in readers' imaginations long after the final page is turned, Brunt's novel is a beautifully bittersweet mixture of heartbreak and hope.”Booklist (starred review)

“Carol Rifka Brunt establishes herself as an emerging author to watch.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Touching and ultimately hopeful.”People

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.

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When We Rise

Cleve Jones

2017 LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD WINNER

The partial inspiration for the ABC television mini-series!


"You could read Cleve Jones's book because you should know about the struggle for gay, lesbian, and transgender rights from one of its key participants--maybe heroes--but really, you should read it for pleasure and joy."--Rebecca Solnit, author of Men Explain Things to Me

Born in 1954, Cleve Jones was among the last generation of gay Americans who grew up wondering if there were others out there like himself. There were. Like thousands of other young people, Jones, nearly penniless, was drawn in the early 1970s to San Francisco, a city electrified by progressive politics and sexual freedom.

Jones found community--in the hotel rooms and ramshackle apartments shared by other young adventurers, in the city's bathhouses and gay bars like The Stud, and in the burgeoning gay district, the Castro, where a New York transplant named Harvey Milk set up a camera shop, began shouting through his bullhorn, and soon became the nation's most outspoken gay elected official. With Milk's encouragement, Jones dove into politics and found his calling in "the movement." When Milk was killed by an assassin's bullet in 1978, Jones took up his mentor's progressive mantle--only to see the arrival of AIDS transform his life once again.

By turns tender and uproarious, When We Rise is Jones' account of his remarkable life. He chronicles the heartbreak of losing countless friends to AIDS, which very nearly killed him, too; his co-founding of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation during the terrifying early years of the epidemic; his conception of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the largest community art project in history; the bewitching story of 1970s San Francisco and the magnetic spell it cast for thousands of young gay people and other misfits; and the harrowing, sexy, and sometimes hilarious stories of Cleve's passionate relationships with friends and lovers during an era defined by both unprecedented freedom and and violence alike.

When We Rise is not only the story of a hero to the LQBTQ community, but the vibrantly voice memoir of a full and transformative American life.

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The Immortalists

Chloe Benjamin

The instant New York Times bestseller and celebrated family love story heralded as "perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Donna Tartt" (People).

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children--four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness--sneak out to hear their fortunes.
The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel struggles to maintain security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.
Both a dazzling family love story and a sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

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How to Survive a Plague

David France

From the creator of and inspired by the seminal documentary of the same name--an Oscar nominee--the definitive history of the successful battle to halt the AIDS epidemic, and the powerful, heroic stories of the gay activists who refused to die without a fight. Intimately reported, this is the story of the men and women who, watching their friends and lovers fall, ignored by public officials, religious leaders, and the nation at large, and confronted with shame and hatred, chose to fight for their right to live. We witness the founding of ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), the rise of an underground drug market in opposition to the prohibitively expensive (and sometimes toxic) AZT, and the gradual movement toward a lifesaving medical breakthrough. With his unparalleled access to this community David France illuminates the lives of extraordinary characters, including the closeted Wall Street trader-turned-activist; the high school dropout who found purpose battling pharmaceutical giants in New York; the South African physician who helped establish the first officially recognized buyers' club at the height of the epidemic; and the public relations executive fighting to save his own life for the sake of his young daughter. Expansive yet richly detailed, this is an insider's account of a pivotal moment in the history of American civil rights.

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Full Disclosure

Camryn Garrett

An unflinchingly honest, eye-opening, heartful story that's sure to keep readers talking. --Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give and On the Come Up

Romantic, funny, hopeful, and unflinchingly real. --Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author of Simon Vs. The Homosapiens Agenda

The uplifting story of an HIV-positive teen, falling in love and learning to live her truth.

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She's making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she's HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real--shy kisses escalating into much more--she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she's positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she's terrified of how he'll react. And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too. Simone's first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on. . . .

Full Disclosure is such a joy to read. --Erika Sanchez, National Book Award finalist for I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

A big-hearted love letter to inclusivity, bravery, and acceptance, Full Disclosure is a wonder of a book. --Kathleen Glasgow, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Pieces

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The Line of Beauty

Alan Hollinghurst

'It is the summer of 1983, and young Nick Guest has moved into an attic room in the Notting Hill home of the Feddens - Gerald, an ambitious new Tory MP, his wealthy wife Rachel, and their children Toby and Catherine. Nick had idolized Toby at Oxford, but in his London life it will be the troubled Catherine, the critic and rebel of the family, who becomes both his friend and his uneasy responsibility.' 'As the boom years of the mid-80s unfold, Nick, an innocent in matters of politics and money, becomes caught up in the Feddens' world - its grand parties, its surprising alliances, its parade of monsters both comic and menacing. In an era of endless possibility, Nick finds himself able to pursue his own private obsession, with beauty - a prize as compelling to him as power and riches are to his friends. An affair with a young black council worker gives him his first experience of romance; but it is a later affair, with a beautiful millionaire, that will change his life more drastically and bring into question the larger fantasies of a ruthless decade.' Framed by the two general elections which returned Mrs. Thatcher to power, The Line of Beauty unfurls through four extraordinary years of change and tragedy. Richly textured, emotionally charged, disarmingly funny, it is a major work by one of the finest writers in the English language.

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Swimming in the Dark

Tomasz Jedrowski

Named A Best Book of 2020 by NPR! 

“Imagine Call Me By Your Name set in Communist Poland and you'll get a sense of Jedrowski's moving debut about a consuming love affair amidst a country being torn apart.”  — O, The Oprah Magazine

“Captivating both for its shimmering surfaces and its terrifying depths. Tomasz Jedrowski is a remarkable writer.”  — Justin Torres, bestselling author of We the Animals

Set in early 1980s Poland against the violent decline of Communism, a tender and passionate story of first love between two young men who eventually find themselves on opposite sides of the political divide—a stunningly poetic and heartrending literary debut for fans of André Aciman, Garth Greenwell, and Alan Hollinghurst.

When university student Ludwik meets Janusz at a summer agricultural camp, he is fascinated yet wary of this handsome, carefree stranger. But a chance meeting by the river soon becomes an intense, exhilarating, and all-consuming affair. After their camp duties are fulfilled, the pair spend a dreamlike few weeks in the countryside, bonding over an illicit copy of James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. Inhabiting a beautiful, natural world removed from society and its constraints, Ludwik and Janusz fall deeply in love. But in their repressive Communist and Catholic society, the passion they share is utterly unthinkable.

Once they return to Warsaw, the charismatic Janusz quickly rises in the political ranks of the party and is rewarded with a highly coveted government position. Ludwik is drawn toward impulsive acts of protest, unable to ignore rising food prices and the stark economic disparity around them. Their secret love and personal and political differences slowly begin to tear them apart as both men struggle to survive in a regime on the brink of collapse.

Shifting from the intoxication of first love to the quiet melancholy of growing up and growing apart, Swimming in the Dark is a potent blend of romance, postwar politics, intrigue, and history. Lyrical and sensual, immersive and intense, Tomasz Jedrowski’s indelible and thought-provoking literary debut explores freedom and love in all its incarnations.

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The Angel of History

Rabih Alameddine

A gay poet is haunted by war and the AIDs crisis in this “sprawling fever dream of a novel” by the Dos Passos Prize-winning author of An Unnecessary Woman (NPR.org).

Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of History follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life. His memories take him from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS.

Haunted by an alluring, sassy Satan, who taunts Jacob to remember his painful past, and by dour, frigid Death, who urges him to forget and give up on life, Jacob is also attended to by fourteen saints. With Jacob recalling his life in Cairo, Beirut, Sana’a, Stockholm, and San Francisco, Alameddine gives us a charged philosophical portrayal of a brilliant mind in crisis. This is a profound story that “marks the triumph of memory over oblivion” (Bookforum).

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Tales of the City

Armistead Maupin

Inspiration for the Netflix Limited Series, Tales of the City

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

The first novel in the beloved Tales of the City series, Armistead Maupin’s best-selling San Francisco saga.

For almost four decades Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City has blazed its own trail through popular culture—from a groundbreaking newspaper serial to a classic novel, to a television event that entranced millions around the world. The first of nine novels about the denizens of the mythic apartment house at 28 Barbary Lane, Tales is both a sparkling comedy of manners and an indelible portrait of an era that changed forever the way we live.

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The Letter Q

Sarah Moon

If you received a letter from your older self, what do you think it would say? What do you wish it would say? That the boy you were crushing on in History turns out to be gay too, and that you become boyfriends in college? That the bully who is making your life miserable will one day become so insignificant that you won't remember his name until he shows up at your book signing? In this anthology, sixty-three award-winning authors such as Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom, Jacqueline Woodson, Gregory Maguire, David Levithan, and Armistead Maupin make imaginative journeys into their pasts, telling their younger selves what they would have liked to know then about their lives as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered people. Through stories, in pictures, with bracing honesty, these are words of love and understanding, reasons to hold on for the better future ahead. They will tell you things about your favorite authors that you never knew before. And they will tell you about yourself.

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The Heart's Invisible Furies

John Boyne

Named Book of the Month Club's Book of the Year, 2017
Selected one of New York Times Readers’ Favorite Books of 2017
Winner of the 2018 Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 

From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, a sweeping, heartfelt saga about the course of one man's life, beginning and ending in post-war Ireland
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery -- or at least, that's what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn't a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from - and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.

In this, Boyne's most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart's Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.

 

 

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Punch Me Up to the Gods

Brian Broome

A NEW YORK TIMES EDITOR'S PICK - A TODAY SUMMER READING LIST PICK - AN ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY BEST DEBUT OF SUMMER PICK - A PEOPLE BEST BOOK OF SUMMER PICK
A poetic and raw coming-of-age memoir about Blackness, masculinity, and addiction

"Punch Me Up to the Gods obliterates what we thought were the limitations of not just the American memoir, but the possibilities of the American paragraph. I'm not sure a book has ever had me sobbing, punching the air, dying of laughter, and needing to write as much as Brian Broome's staggering debut. This sh*t is special."
--Kiese Laymon, New York Times bestselling author of Heavy

"Punch Me Up to the Gods is some of the finest writing I have ever encountered and one of the most electrifying, powerful, simply spectacular memoirs I--or you--have ever read. And you will read it; you must read it. It contains everything we all crave so deeply: truth, soul, brilliance, grace. It is a masterpiece of a memoir and Brian Broome should win the Pulitzer Prize for writing it. I am in absolute awe and you will be, too."
--Augusten Burroughs, New York Times bestselling author of Running with Scissors

Punch Me Up to the Gods introduces a powerful new talent in Brian Broome, whose early years growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy harboring crushes on other boys propel forward this gorgeous, aching, and unforgettable debut. Brian's recounting of his experiences--in all their cringe-worthy, hilarious, and heartbreaking glory--reveal a perpetual outsider awkwardly squirming to find his way in. Indiscriminate sex and escalating drug use help to soothe his hurt, young psyche, usually to uproarious and devastating effect. A no-nonsense mother and broken father play crucial roles in our misfit's origin story. But it is Brian's voice in the retelling that shows the true depth of vulnerability for young Black boys that is often quietly near to bursting at the seams.

Cleverly framed around Gwendolyn Brooks's poem "We Real Cool," the iconic and loving ode to Black boyhood, Punch Me Up to the Gods is at once playful, poignant, and wholly original. Broome's writing brims with swagger and sensitivity, bringing an exquisite and fresh voice to ongoing cultural conversations about Blackness in America.

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All The Young Men

Ruth Coker Burks

All The Young Men, a gripping and triumphant tale of human compassion, is the true story of Ruth Coker Burks, a young single mother in Hot Springs, Arkansas, who finds herself driven to the forefront of the AIDS crisis, and becoming a pivotal activist in America’s fight against AIDS.

In 1986, 26-year old Ruth visits a friend at the hospital when she notices that the door to one of the hospital rooms is painted red. She witnesses nurses drawing straws to see who would tend to the patient inside, all of them reluctant to enter the room. Out of impulse, Ruth herself enters the quarantined space and immediately begins to care for the young man who cries for his mother in the last moments of his life. Before she can even process what she’s done, word spreads in the community that Ruth is the only person willing to help these young men afflicted by AIDS, and is called upon to nurse them. As she forges deep friendships with the men she helps, she works tirelessly to find them housing and jobs, even searching for funeral homes willing to take their bodies – often in the middle of the night. She cooks meals for tens of people out of discarded food found in the dumpsters behind supermarkets, stores rare medications for her most urgent patients, teaches sex-ed to drag queens after hours at secret bars, and becomes a beacon of hope to an otherwise spurned group of ailing gay men on the fringes of a deeply conservative state.

 

Throughout the years, Ruth defies local pastors and nurses to help the men she cares for: Paul and Billy, Angel, Chip, Todd and Luke. Emboldened by the weight of their collective pain, she fervently advocates for their safety and visibility, ultimately advising Governor Bill Clinton on the national HIV-AIDS crisis.

 

This deeply moving and elegiac memoir honors the extraordinary life of Ruth Coker Burks and the beloved men who fought valiantly for their lives with AIDS during a most hostile and misinformed time in America.

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Let the Record Show

Sarah Schulman

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. Longlisted for the 2021 Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize. "This is not reverent, definitive history. This is a tactician’s bible." --Parul Sehgal, The New York Times

"A masterpiece of historical research and intellectual analysis that creates many windows into both a vanished world and the one that emerged from it, the one we live in now." --Alexander Chee

Twenty years in the making, Sarah Schulman's Let the Record Show is the most comprehensive political history ever assembled of ACT UP and American AIDS activism

In just six years, ACT UP, New York, a broad and unlikely coalition of activists from all races, genders, sexualities, and backgrounds, changed the world. Armed with rancor, desperation, intelligence, and creativity, it took on the AIDS crisis with an indefatigable, ingenious, and multifaceted attack on the corporations, institutions, governments, and individuals who stood in the way of AIDS treatment for all. They stormed the FDA and NIH in Washington, DC, and started needle exchange programs in New York; they took over Grand Central Terminal and fought to change the legal definition of AIDS to include women; they transformed the American insurance industry, weaponized art and advertising to push their agenda, and battled—and beat—The New York Times, the Catholic Church, and the pharmaceutical industry. Their activism, in its complex and intersectional power, transformed the lives of people with AIDS and the bigoted society that had abandoned them.

Based on more than two hundred interviews with ACT UP members and rich with lessons for today’s activists, Let the Record Show is a revelatory exploration—and long-overdue reassessment—of the coalition’s inner workings, conflicts, achievements, and ultimate fracture. Schulman, one of the most revered queer writers and thinkers of her generation, explores the how and the why, examining, with her characteristic rigor and bite, how a group of desperate outcasts changed America forever, and in the process created a livable future for generations of people across the world.

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