Five lesbian literary novels to dive into this summer

There’s no shortage of great girl-on-girl erotic lit. But sometimes what our hearts or loins desire is a literary lady to take us by the hand and show us just how funny, beautiful and intense lesbian lovingcan be.

“Every time a woman writes about love between women … the ground shifts,” says E.J. Levy, whose 1995 anthology, Tasting Life Twice: Literary Lesbian Fiction by New American Writers, received a Lambda Literary Award. “Lesbian writers … help us see human, cultural and political possibilities … without orbiting around the sun of dick.” Which is especially urgent now, she adds, “when we’re seeing the consequences of toxic, white, het[erosexual], male supremacy in the hallucination that is Trump.”

Whether you want revolution or just a little turn-on, here are some of the best lesbian novels written in the English language — great stuff that uses wacky words and worlds to get specific about lady loving.


Orlando may be the most academia-acclaimed book on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. We meet Orlando as a man in the Elizabethan era and then watch him miraculously live for hundreds of years, into Virginia Woolf’s own time, after undergoing a mysterious sex change. Publication date isn’t the only thing this novel has in common with Barnes’ — it too has a juicy, real-life backstory. The protagonist was inspired by Vita Sackville-West, a fellow novelist and Woolf’s lover. The prose, being Woolf’s, is perfect.

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