The 100 Best Gay Books

The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), June 22, 1999 | Go to article overview

The 100 Best Gay Books


This month, by special arrangement, The Advocate is first to announce the 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels, as selected by the Publishing Triangle, an association of gay men and lesbians in publishing. This is the most authoritative ranking yet of gay and lesbian fiction throughout history, Offering a few reflections on this literary coming-of-age is Advocate literary critic Robert Plunket.

When I saw Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov on the Publishing Triangle's brand-new list of the 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels, I knew it was a brilliant list I've been telling people for years what a gay book it is, only to meet with blank stares. And now here it is at number 60. And you have to love a List that manages to encompass both City of Night (number 22) and Little Women (43). Or a list where Rita Mae Brown (Rubyfruit Jungle, 18) outranks Henry James (The Bostonians, 27).

The list was put together by a jury of 14 lesbian and gay writers, including Dorothy Allison, Christopher Brain, and Sarah Schulman. Criteria include literary merit? influence, and significance to lesbian and gay readers and writers. As Allison puts it? she sought the books that were, simply, "lifesaving." The result is a mixture of Great Books (Remembrance of Things Past, 4; Moby Dick, 64), gay and lesbian classics (Dancer From the Dance, 15; Patience and Sarah, 24), and lesser-known gay novels from all over the world. If you disagree with the judges' picks, don't worry. All this month you're invited to cast your vote for a second, "readers choice" list.

1. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann 2. Giovannis's Room by James Baldwin 3. Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet 4. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust 5. The Immoralist by Andre Gide 6. Orlando by Virginia Woolf 7. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall 8. Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig 9. Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar 10. Zami by Audre Lorde 11. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde 12. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes 13. Billy Budd by Herman Melville 14. A Boy's Own Story by Edmund White 15. Dancer From the Dance by Andrew Holleran 16. Maurice by E.M. Forster 17. The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal 18. Rudyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown 19. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh 20. Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima 21. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers 22. City of Night by John Rechy 23. Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal 24. Patience & Sarah by Isabel Miller 25. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein 26. Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote 27. The Bostonians by Henry James 28. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles 29. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison 30. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers 31. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf 32. The Persian Boy by Mary Renault 33. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood 34. …

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