Is it the mild gay content that prevents the international literary community from adding Håkan Lindquist to the working list of great living Nothernish writers like Gerbrand Bakker, Peter Stamm and Per Petterson (all of them indebted to the magnificent simplicity of lesbian Tove Jansson)? Or is it merely because only two of Håkan's five novels are available in English, and those two were long-distance efforts from a German publisher? Rest assured, his time will come. Until then, you can pride yourself on getting to know this dashing Swede (who splits his time between Stockholm and Berlin) before IMPAC Dublin discovers him. His short, domestic novels tackle eternal themes of family secrets, the nature of love, and the passage of time, with a fresh perspective and a modern, gay naturalism. My Brother and His Brother follows Jonas as he tracks down and uncovers surprising details about Paul, his older brother who died at sixteen the year before Jonas was born. On Collecting Stamps is a beautiful look back, from middle age, as Mattias reconsiders his unconventional friendship, starting at twelve, with a lonely middle-aged stamp collector, Samuel. Notice in both cases the complex double layering of time: At eighteen, Jonas is now older than his "older" brother, and Mattias has reached the same stage of life Samuel was when they met. Brilliant. Read him. (Photo by Yuna Yagi.)
After distinguished service as an intelligence officer in the Queen's Royal Regiment during WWII, Dirk Bogarde tried acting and became Britain's top box office draw of the 1950s. So it was big news in 1961 when he chose to play a closeted, married gay barrister in Victim, especially considering he was closeted himself. (He and his manager Anthony Forwood lived together for decades.) In 1963, Bogarde played the creepy, closety valet in The Servant, and later played the tragic gay lead of Death in Venice. Today, the courage of these choices can hardly be imagined. Even in 1971, two years after Midnight Cowboy, Warner Brothers was so terrified of Death in Venice being charged with obscenity in the U.S. they wanted to drop the movie altogether. They relented after Queen Elizabeth and Princess Anne attended the London premiere; it won an Oscar. Yet offscreen in his own life, Bogarde lacked the same bravery. After the anguish of watching his partner suffer a prolonged battle with Parkinson's and liver cancer, he became a vocal proponent of euthanasia. That was 1988, coincidentally the same year that John Gielgud came out quietly and Ian McKellan came out blazingly. Bogarde never did. He retired in 1990 and lived till 1999, by which time he had written something like eight volumes of autobiography, none of which tells the full truth of his life. In fact, he destroyed much of his personal archives.