Pride Month Reading

For Pride Month we asked journalist, author, and LGBTQ refugee activist Ahmad Danny Ramadan for some of his top book picks for Pride reading.


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To sum up Pride Month readings in four or five books would be a crime; there are too many beautiful and heartbreaking stories out there to choose from. Those stories are told by a diverse group of authors carrying their queer identities on their sleeves; they all deserve celebration and recognition.But let’s try together, shall we? 
Monoceros by Suzette Mayr (Coach House Books)Winner of the W.O. Mitchell Book Prize, Winner of the 2012 Relit Award for Best Novel and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, this novel tells the story of the aftermath of a queer boy’s suicide on the many characters who roamed in his life and never paid enough attention to his challenges. The book is a masterpiece of dark and comic narrative that filters the emotions of its characters through their actions and inner thoughts.This non-traditional book written in a playful language is an honest window into the lives of folks navigating the catholic school system, and trying to negotiate their own identities with the cruel —and sometimes aimless—world around them. 
God Loves Hair by Vivek Shraya, illustrated by Juliana Neufeld (Arsenal Pulp Press) This book, a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and winner of the Applied Arts Award for Illustration, is a little haven for the youth marginalized by their racial, social, sexual, and gender identities. Its short stories encompass the voice of a kind and intellectual youth wonder about the world and the roads you take in it.Vivek is a favourite since even this page is white and her many other queer-focused projects. She manages to bring out memories of early childhood that many of us who identify on the margins share and appreciate. She also speaks the voice of a young queer person of colour with clarity and love that only an artist with tenderness can bring.
Breathing Lessons
By Andy Sinclair (Véhicule Press)
This sleeper of a book was nominated for the Lambda Awards; and it deserved the award in my own humble opinion. This explicit novel (and boy do you need to take a deep breath every now and then) tells the story of Henry who is combating loneliness with a successful professional career and an adventurous sexual life. He is starting to learn, as he gets older, that loneliness requires authenticity and that he needs to truly open up to the world around him.This is a sarcastic, honest and creative look at the lives of many queer folks who are finding their way in a post-marriage equality, queer-inclusion world and it rings true to myself as well as others.
Mostly Happy
by Pam Bustin (Thistledown Press)
Bean Fallwell’s early years are told in this White Pine Winner of a novel, from her conception all the way to almost thirty years after. Darkness surrounded the main character in her childhood while living with her dysfunctional mother who has a penchant for abusive men. But Bean’s ability to look through the clouds and find the open sky and its wonders is what made this book such an inspiring tale.This is a well-written and beautifully composed book and you can’t help but fall in love with its main character. You can witness Bustin’s ability to tell this coming of age story with the many layers of the main character’s search to find her true identity, while also collecting beautiful memories in her own Samsonite.*  *  *Thanks so much to Ahmad Danny Ramadan for his Pride reads. Find them all on All Lit Up, and happy reading!