Spring Books 2023 roundup, part 1

  • by Jim Piechota
  • Tuesday April 25, 2023
Share this Post:
Spring Books 2023 roundup, part 1

Book lovers have many reasons to be excited, as it's already promising to be another stellar year for queer books. Presented here, in a series of installments, are just a few examples of the amazing literary delights at — or coming soon to — a bookstore near you this spring. Get reading!


'Monstrilio' by Gerardo Samano Cordova, $27 (Zando)

Mexico City author Cordova's uniquely strange, inspired, and addictive debut chronicles a couple's grief after the death of their child and the desperate measures they take to resurrect his presence. When their son dies young, Magos and her husband Joseph fall into the depths of mourning and Magos goes to desperate measures to revive him, with disastrous results.

Years later, when Joseph begins a romantic relationship with a man, he must contend with the new beautiful yet deadly mini-monster his ex-wife has conjured. Touching on themes of queer identity, grief, sexual desire, and magic, this folktale is like nothing else out there right now, so put this on your must-read list. Samano Cordova is a brilliant writer and this is a wild ride into new horror fiction.

'The Fitful Sleep of Immigrants' by Orlando Ortega-Medina, (Amble Press) April 18

In Ortega-Medina's superb multifaceted 1990s-set thriller, a successful gay attorney and his loving boyfriend find themselves drowning in personal troubles with the worst coming in the form of an edgy stranger with nefarious intentions.

On the surface, Marc and Isaac seem content and happy, but Marc struggles with sobriety, family issues, and his partner's undocumented immigration status. Enter swarthy, smolderingly handsome Alejandro, who has a rap sheet and a flirtatious sexy swagger that lures Marc into treacherous waters. Stuffed with romantic melodrama, sex, seduction, and the serpentine politics of immigration, this novel is a tantalizing morsel.

'Dykette' by Jenny Fran Davis, $26.99 (Henry Holt) May 16

Davis's provocative YA title "Everything Must Go" was a hit, and here in her adult fiction debut, she presents the lives of three New York lesbian couples who commingle for ten days in a cabin over a Christmas holiday.

Readers will revel in all the expectant high drama and Davis scores big points for corralling it all into a cohesive tale of short tempers, jealousy, and the allure of dominant narrator Sasha. Sasha's ultimate challenge is to not overreact to her partner (and their third lover's) livestreamed sexual performance art, which excludes her. Be prepared for a very busy, character-driven sapphic delicacy.

'The Lost Americans' by Christopher Bollen, $30 (HarperCollins)

Bollen's latest literary thriller follows an American family attempting to piece together the mystery of whether a man named Eric accidentally fell from his hotel balcony in Cairo, if he jumped, or if he was pushed to his death. International intrigue simmers as the plot expands to include Cate, Eric's sister, who refuses to accept any explanation for his demise, particularly that of her brother's sleazy employer, Polestar.

She travels to Egypt where she works with gay citizen Omar and together they dig (too) deeply into Polestar's creepy omnipresence in Eric's life. Gritty international policy and politics are braided together with the determination of a sister trying to solve her brother's death in this twisty, well-crafted tale of suspense, intrigue, and corporate crime.

'The People Who Report More Stress' by Alejandro Varela
, $26 (Astra House)
Fresh off the success of his National Book Award finalist debut novel, "The Town of Babylon," queer New York author Varela delivers this sparkling collection of short stories interconnected by their unique voices and themes of racism, stress, daily anxiety, sexuality, the price of success, and life lived among marginalized communities.

The transracial gay couple at the core of the stories is Eduardo, a Salvadorian and Columbian public health worker, and his white techie partner, Gus. The stories examine discrimination and homophobia at its worst and as the couple navigate their way through situations through a variety of angles, the result is an enchantingly humanistic volume of tales with social justice underpinnings.

'I Felt the End Before it Came: Memoirs of an Ex-Jehovah's Witness' by Daniel Allen Cox
, $24.95 (Viking) May 9
Novelist Daniel Allen Cox opens his heart and his history being brought up in a Jehovah's Witness family in this searingly candid memoir. After growing up in a doomsday culture that stifled creative and intellectual energies via The Watch Tower Society's controlling dynamics, the author began honing his writing skills and decided to disassociate himself from the group entirely by letter.

He also decided to come out as well in just one of several impassioned essays about growing into his identity, embracing his queerness, and living a life that he dictated on his own terms. Most intriguing is an essay about his move to Manhattan in 1998 at the tender age of 22 where he befriended photographer David LaChappelle and became involved in sex work. Throughout the book, Cox remains an emotional resonant presence, never apologizing for his choices and always adept at discovering new and beautiful facets of himself.

'BoySlut' by Zachary Zane, $26 (Abrams Image) May 9
As a sex columnist for Men's Health magazine, Zane has seen and heard situations from every corner of the bedroom. Now he shares his own story in this provocative confessional that lays bare his history and his life as an unapologetic slut and a "fraysexual," which is someone who enjoys sex without a deep connection and who loses that attraction once a person becomes familiar. Among the over 2000 encounters he boasts of, Zane shares just a sampling of his "sexually shameless" exploits all intensively described and zesty enough to carry the memoir through its frequent moments of soul-searching, lesson learning, and ultimate personal liberation.

'Quietly Hostile' by Samantha Irby
, $17 (Vintage Books) May 16
Queer comic and essayist Irby displays a seasoned knack for self-deprecating humor and wit in these hilarious and contemporarily recognizable slices of life. There are 17 sequences in all and most are standout successes. Whether addressing behavior patterns during the Covid-19 pandemic, or her problematic chronic health concerns, Irby is candid, searingly honest, and always on-point.

Her love of Justin Bieber annoys folks, but she doesn't care; neither does she mind what people think about her fondness for Dave Matthews, strip malls, and "Sex and the City," which she feels would've benefited from several of her own provocative plot twists. It's not all fun and games, thankfully, as Irby does take time to dig deep and reflect on reuniting with her estranged half brother upon the death of their father. This has a little bit of everything and fans of Irby will find her in top form here.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.