'Cassara has written a heartbreaking tale of gay men struggling to survive in a world of clubbing and drugs. It is also an unexpected love story.'
The House of Impossible Beauties
'Equal parts attitude, intelligence and eyeliner.' - Marlon JamesJoseph Cassara
NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2018 BY Buzzfeed • Esquire • Bustle • The Millions • The Wall Street Journal • Entertainment Weekly • Nylon • Elle • Dazed • The Irish Times
‘Cassara has written a heartbreaking tale of gay men struggling to survive in a world of clubbing and drugs. It is also an unexpected love story.’ Graham Norton, Top Five Reads of 2018
‘Cassaras’s propulsive and profound first novel, finding one’s home in the world – particularly in a subculture plagued by fear and intolerance from society – comes with tragedy as well as extraordinary personal freedom.’ Esquire
A gritty and gorgeous debut inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza made famous by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning
New York City, 1980
Nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem dance scene.
Just seventeen years old and burnt by her traumatic past, she wants to create a family for those without.
When Angel falls in love with him, the two decide to set up the House of Xtravaganza, the first ever all-Latino house on the dance circuit.
They are joined by Venus, Juanito and Daniel, all with their own devastating stories to tell, each determined to survive.
Told in a voice that brims with wit, rage, tenderness, and fierce yearning, The House of Impossible Beauties is a gritty and gorgeous debut – a tragic story of love, family, and the dynamism of the human spirit.
‘The House of Impossible Beauties tells of a search not only for respect but, above all, love in a time and place that seeks to starve its characters of both… From these threads of fact and myth, Cassara runs up a fictional ensemble that craftily stitches glamour and grit.’
‘Vivid and engaging... The novel feels like an anthropological plunge into another era, enhanced by rhythmic, urban prose littered with slang and Spanglish.’
‘Vibrant… The House of Impossible Beauties is especially strong at detailing the sadness of queer life… This is not a bleak novel, however – far from it. The scenes of love and support between the characters have a kindness that more than matches the sadness, and the dialogue, peppered with early 80s disco or TV references and “Spanglais” dialect, is frequently hilarious… [offering] a convincing insight into the world in which they lived.’
‘Cassara’s “beauties” actually does the impossible. It cuts bone deep into a scene that’s all surface, mines the grit that produces glitter, and finds burning life in this lost generation of beautiful and damned. The novel strikes a flame the way a character strikes a pose – equal parts attitude, intelligence and eyeliner.’
‘My favourite book of this year is a fictional imagining of the back stories of the House of Xtravaganza, the subject of Jenny Livingston’s peerless voguing documentary, Paris Is Burning.’
‘Vividly imagined... Riveted by their stories, you are so struck by the Xtravaganza’s strength and determination, by their vibrant spirits and humour, by their creativity, by their sensitivity to beauty and their capacity to give and receive love.’
‘Gritty, fiercely impressive... Joseph Cassara has written a lithe, fiery and incredibly authentic story. A future queer classic.’
‘Fabulous...a grand, beautiful tale of art, love and the human spirit.’
‘A vibrant and dynamic debut novel.’
‘Cassaras’s propulsive and profound first novel, finding one’s home in the world – particularly in a subculture plagued by fear and intolerance from society – comes with tragedy as well as extraordinary personal freedom.’
'A heartbreaking yet uplifting account of one of the most culturally influential yet oppressed groups in modern history.'