Out in the open | Pocketmags.com

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Out in the open

Is it time for Canadian gay literature to leave its comfort zone and respond to the Grindr generation?

Every year, the search for the Great Gay Novel proves to be more challenging than the last. A few rare exceptions sprout up annually: in 2014, Toronto writer Greg Kearney was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for his debut novel, The Desperates.

In 2015, The Atlantic praised Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, about a 30- something group of long-standing friends growing apart, as “the most ambitious chronicle of the social and emotional lives of gay men to have emerged in years.” This year, the darkest literary horse in the race – and the wildest stallion rushing toward 2016’s finish line – is Nick Comilla’s Candyass. The 28-year-old New York–born author is best known for his poetry, but his debut novel is a beautiful, brazen read firmly planted in today’s tech-obsessed age.

Published by Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press, Candyass takes place in two big flaming cities: Montreal and New York. Comilla, who currently splits his time between the two urban centres, attended schools in both – Concordia University and the New School – while penning the novel, which started as a series of poems. Mirroring Comilla’s own experience, Candyass focuses on the life of a 17-year-old gay writer named Arthur, a punk-loving, out-of-sorts introvert, born of what the author calls “a resistance to gay literature of the past.”

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Books of the year: Q&Q editors pick the most notable titles and moments of 2016; Is Canadian gay lit too conservative?