The best contemporary gay novels set on the Mediterranean

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised crisscrossing America, I developed a ceaseless wanderlust that took me around the world many times. En route, I collected the stories and characters that make up my work. Polish cops and Greek fishermen, mercenaries and arms dealers, child prostitutes and wannabe terrorists: I hung with them all in an unparalleled international career that had me smuggle banned plays from behind the Iron Curtain, maneuver through Occupied Territories, and stowaway aboard a ‘devil’s barge’ for a three-day crossing from Cape Verde that landed me in an African jail. Greece, where I’ve spent some seven years total, stole my heart 50 years ago. Fire on the Island is my homage to it. 


I wrote...

Fire on the Island: A Romantic Thriller

By Timothy Jay Smith,

Book cover of Fire on the Island: A Romantic Thriller

What is my book about?

Fire on the Island is a playful, romantic thriller set in contemporary Greece, with a gay Greek-American FBI agent, who is undercover on the island to investigate a series of mysterious fires. Set against the very real refugee crisis on the beautiful, sun-drenched Greek islands, this novel paints a loving portrait of a community in crisis. As the island residents grapple with declining tourism, poverty, refugees, family feuds, and a perilously damaged church, an arsonist invades their midst. Having all the charm of Zorba the Greek, it sheds a bright light on the very real challenges of life in contemporary Greece. For lovers of crime fiction and the allure of the Greek islands, Fire on the Island is the perfect summer read.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Leading Men

Timothy Jay Smith Why did I love this book?

If there is something written by Tennessee Williams that I’ve not read, I’d be surprised. All I’ve known about his personal life is that he was gay, but what that meant to him, or how he expressed it, were mysteries to me until I read Leading Men, a fictionalized account of Tennessee Williams’s 30-year love affair with Frank Merlo. Set largely in Italy, it’s filled with dazzling characters and backstage intrigue. It’s also a heartbreaking novel about life in the shadows of greatness. A book that hasn’t left me since I read it and I’m sure to read it again.

By Christopher Castellani,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Leading Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An expansive yet intimate story of desire, artistic ambition, and fidelity, set in the glamorous literary and film circles of 1950s Italy

In July of 1953, at a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet Anja Blomgren, a mysterious young Swedish beauty and aspiring actress. Their encounter will go on to alter all of their lives.

Ten years later, Frank revisits the tempestuous events of that fateful summer from his deathbed in Manhattan, where he waits anxiously for Tennessee to visit him one final time. Anja, now legendary film…


Book cover of The Rebellious Tide

Timothy Jay Smith Why did I love this book?

The setup of The Rebellious Tide instantly made me want to read it. A man abandons his pregnant wife, and thirty years later Sebastien, their son, seeks him out, wanting an explanation and revenge. The father is the captain of a luxury liner cruising the Mediterranean, and Sebastien joins the crew to secretly stalk his father to find out what kind of person he is. The story is full of mystery and disturbing elements, not to mention fluid sexuality. Ultimately, Sebastien discovers something his father has hidden in the belly of the ship that makes him confront what he’s feared about his own identity. A new twist on a high seas mystery!  

By Eddy Boudel Tan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Rebellious Tide as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sebastien's search for his father leads him to a ship harbouring a dangerous secret.

Sebastien has heard only stories about his father, a mysterious sailor who abandoned his pregnant mother thirty years ago. But when his mother dies after a lifetime of struggle, he becomes obsessed with finding an explanation - perhaps even revenge.

The father he's never met is Kostas, the commanding officer of a luxury liner sailing the Mediterranean. Posing as a member of the ship's crew, Sebastien stalks his unwitting father in search of answers as to why he disappeared so many years ago.

After a public…


Book cover of The Destroyers

Timothy Jay Smith Why did I love this book?

A psychological thriller set on the stunningly beautiful Greek island of Patmos. That was enough to make me want to crack the cover on this book, and what a great read it turned out to be! Ian, fleeing the emotional and financial fallout of his father’s death, joins Charlie, his best childhood friend, who’s rich and basking in the good island life. Or is it a good island life? Ian finds himself drawn into a world where mysteries overlap, infidelities and ambivalent sexuality are rampant, an errant bomb explosion may have missed its intended target, and the conclusion makes the ending to The Silence of the Lambs look like a cakewalk.

By Christopher Bollen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Destroyers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The Destroyers is a smart, sophisticated literary thriller; for all its originality, it invokes the shades of Lawrence Durrell and Graham Greene' Jay McInerney, author of Bright, Precious Days

When Charlie and I were young, we played a game called Destroyers . . . We were sharpening our instincts, jettisoning attachments. We were honing strategies for survival ...

Ian Bledsoe is on the run, broke and humiliated, fleeing the emotional and financial fallout of his father's death. His childhood friend Charlie - rich, exuberant and basking in life on the Greek island of Patmos - is his last hope.

At…


Book cover of Call Me by Your Name

Timothy Jay Smith Why did I love this book?

This winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Fiction is one of the greatest love stories I have read – and also seen, since it was made into an equally compelling movie. Oliver arrives on the Italian Riviera to spend the summer assisting Professor Perlman on his academic research. He lives with the Perlman family and soon becomes close friends with their adolescent son, Elio. Their friendship evolves into a love affair that tests their sexuality as they move closer to total intimacy. It’s a story that lingers. I still get emotional thinking about it.

By André Aciman,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Call Me by Your Name as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a Major Motion Picture from Director Luca Guadagnino, Starring Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet, and Written by James Ivory

WINNER BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY ACADEMY AWARD
Nominated for Four Oscars

A New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
A Vulture Book Club Pick

An Instant Classic and One of the Great Love Stories of Our Time

Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared…


Book cover of The Stuffed Coffin

Timothy Jay Smith Why did I love this book?

I’m a gay writer living in France, so of course, I had to read The Stuffed Coffin when it won France’s national 2019 Prize for Gay Thriller. And as a bonus, it’s set in Greece, the country which stole my heart long ago. After breaking up with his boyfriend, Damien needs to get away and chooses a bucolic Greek village next to the sea. His first night there, he falls for a handsome youth, Nikos, but their relationship is anything but simple. Meanwhile, bodies start appearing: drowned, run over, whatever. It’s hardly the calm respite Damien envisioned but readers will definitely enjoy this sometimes-quirky and definitely entertaining read.

By Dieter Moitzi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Stuffed Coffin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Prix du roman policier - Prix du roman gay 2019 in France!
After breaking up with his boyfriend, Damien Drechsler needs a holiday. The Greek village of Levkos seems like the perfect place to go—dozy, sunny, bucolic, with lonely beaches and little bars where he can drown his sorrows.
But the very first night, Damien meets Nikos, a dashing young man, who makes his heart beat faster all of a sudden. Then, he is almost run over by a reckless driver. The next day he learns that an old man has been killed in a suspicious-looking car…


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The Cowboy's Lost Family

By Roxanne Snopek,

Book cover of The Cowboy's Lost Family

Roxanne Snopek

New book alert!

What is my book about?

He’s looking for the one thing she’s done with: family.

Brade Oliver arrives in Grand, Montana, looking for blood—and answers. Genetic tests reveal that his biological family may reside in the small, western town, and he’s on a mission to finally discover the one thing his adoptive family couldn’t give him: the truth.

Kendall McKinley craves a normal life, free of the demands, drama, and constraints of her dysfunctional family. Despite being focused on building her career and working on a restoration project, Kendall can’t help herself from noticing a handsome stranger the first night he arrives. But when Brade…

The Cowboy's Lost Family

By Roxanne Snopek,

What is this book about?

He’s looking for the one thing she’s done with: family.

Brade Oliver arrives in Grand, Montana, looking for blood—and answers. Genetic tests reveal that his biological family may reside in the small, western town, and he’s on a mission to finally discover the one thing his adoptive family couldn’t give him: the truth.

Kendall McKinley craves a normal life, free of the demands, drama, and constraints of her dysfunctional family. Despite being focused on building her career and working on a restoration project, Kendall can’t help herself from noticing a handsome stranger the first night he arrives. But when Brade…


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Interested in gay topics and characters, the Mediterranean, and gay teenagers?

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