Four Amazing Books by Queer Vancouver Authors That Make Great Holiday Gifts

By Casey Stepaniuk

If you’re looking for the perfect gift this holiday season, why not let your loved ones delve into imaginative and heartfelt stories by Vancouver queer and/or trans authors? For unique perspectives from this coastal city, here are four great options:

The Clothesline Swing by Danny Ramadan

This 2017 novel would be a great present for anyone who’s interested in the Syrian refugees who have been arriving in Vancouver over the past few years, or to anyone who has been an immigrant or refugee. It’s beautiful, intimate look at a gay couple’s journey from Syria to Vancouver, but told from a perspective that might surprise you: the elderly Hakawati (meaning, storyteller) looks back on his life from future Vancouver. The stories go back and forth in time, taking place in Canada, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey. Haunting, nostalgic, but also life-affirming and healing, The Clothesline Swing is, as the author who is himself a gay Syrian refugee puts it, “what I did with my heartache;” it’s an example of what kind of gorgeous art can come out of dark experiences.

Next Year For Sure by Zoey Leigh Peterson

This debut novel, which was longlisted for the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize, is the kind of book that sticks with you. For anyone on your list who loves novels that dive deep into character and relationships, you can’t go wrong with Next Year For Sure. The book is set in an unnamed city that is recognizably Vancouver-ish and it’s about Kathryn and Chris, a long-term couple in their early thirties. They’re the kind of couple others envy; but they have a shared loneliness and dissatisfaction with their lives, which they eventually begin to tackle by exploring polyamory. The book asks, but doesn’t answer, questions like: How can we be happy? How can we build the best relationships? And how do we do those things in the face of society that tells us what we should be doing?

Huntsmen by Michelle Osgood

How does a combination of urban fantasy and queer feminist romance sound? Perfect, right? That’s exactly what Michelle Osgood’s latest book is. The story begins when Kiara sees her genderqueer ex Taryn on stage at a Vancouver drag king night. Before she can bemoan how easy it is the run into your ex, she, Taryn, and her friends are forced from the club due to the arrival of huntsmen who are after werewolves. Yes, they’re all werewolves. Kiara is the “alpha-designate” in her werewolf pack, which means she’s in charge of figuring out how they’re going to handle the huntsmen; for now, they’re in hiding in close quarters, which means Kiara and Taryn can’t hide from all the reasons they broke up and all the reasons they might still want to be together.

Darkest Light by Hiromi Goto  

Technically this YA novel is a companion to the earlier book Half World, but since Darkest Light is set 16 years later and focuses on different characters, it’s a fantastic pick for readers new to Goto’s deliciously dark fantasy world and ones already familiar with it. Gee is a lonely teenager whose dark origins have been kept from him. As his troubled past catches up with him, he ends traveling to “Half World,” a limbo land in between the realm of the living and of the spirit. Joining him is his only friend, Cracker, a queer neo-Goth girl who also knows what it’s like to be alienated; she also has questions that can only be answered in Half World. The fate of all three realms eventually rests on Gee and Cracker’s shoulders as they face their darkest fears: monsters, horror, and the evil that is inside Gee himself…

Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian-in-training who runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find LGBTQ+ Canadian book reviews and a queer book advice column. She also writes for Book Riot. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian

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