The writer said the gay novel was dead. But tales of our fight to exist are evolving into tales of our lives and loves
The brilliant writer Alan Hollinghurst said at the Hay festival this weekend that the gay novel was dead and had had its day. The author, who won the Booker Prize in 2004 for The Line of Beauty, said that though he, of course, welcomed the liberated times we lived in, they offered less creative nutrition for storytellers than the decades battling for acceptance did.
He’s right, of course, to a degree. It’s ironic that the creative opportunities offered in years past, could not, on the whole, be expressed. For every EM Forster (whose one gay novel was published after he died), think how many others remain hidden, lost or simply untold through fear, self-loathing or the belief they wouldn’t be published. In the period since, writers such as Gore Vidal, Alice Walker, Christopher Isherwood, James Baldwin, Maureen Duffy, Armistead Maupin and others used their keyboards to punch through the restrictions of the time. But even now, our stories aren’t often told because of prejudice, lack of interest and a feeling there is very little market for them.
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