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Zak Salih Talks About His New Intergenerational Gay Novel, ‘Let’s Get Back to the Party’

I vow, henceforth, to live by cock alone.

This is certainly the most among many memorable lines from Let’s Get Back to the Party, the debut novel from late-thirtysomething Washington, D.C.–based writer Zak Salih. Gossipy and full of the energy of contemporary, pre-COVID urban gay life (hookup app foreplay, same-sex weddings, and sometimes awkward cocktail outings), the novel is underscored with themes of loneliness, shame, and longing. Its story bounces between Sebastian and Oscar, two middle-class thirtysomething gay men who’ve become estranged after an intense childhood friendship. Sebastian, a brooding high school art-history teacher of half-Arab descent, becomes obsessed with his openly gay student, while white Oscar, an embittered, hookup-crazy marketing writer, attaches himself to an Edmund White–like older gay literary writer whose books recount the hedonism of the 1970s followed by the misery of AIDS. (The “cock alone” line, from one of his novels, becomes Oscar’s new raison d’être.) Dynamics between all four gay men become ever more knotty, culminating in a rather startling final scene in midsummer 2016, right after the Pulse massacre and a few months before Trump’s shocking electoral upset.

Salih chatted with TheBody about the joys and challenges of writing a novel about a gay late-millennial generation that came of age after the full horrors of AIDS but before the liberation of PrEP and the new freedoms enjoyed by the relatively privileged teen and twentysomething gays of the book’s milieu. Let’s Get Back to the Party (Algonquin, $25.95) can be bought via Amazon, IndieBound, and other vendors.

Click below to read the interview.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 2205/05/2021


by Anonymousreply 105/04/2021

I only read books by attractive authors...with the exceptions being Stephen King, & Dave Guterson ("Snow Falling On Cedars").

Jokes aside, "Sebastian"? Sure, that's a real name, but I'm tired of seeing it pop up in gay stories in all sorts of media. It's eyeroll enducing at this point. What's the fucking obsession with that name? I've known many, many people from all walks of life, and I've never even met a "Sebastian".

by Anonymousreply 205/04/2021

I've only met one, R2, and ironically, he's straight.

by Anonymousreply 305/04/2021

Zak is biracial how?

by Anonymousreply 405/04/2021

Alternative title: "Let's Get Back to the Navel-Gazing"

by Anonymousreply 505/04/2021

R3, I've met a couple of Sebastians -- all guys with Spanish-speaking parents.

by Anonymousreply 605/04/2021

Looks interesting. I'll check it out.

by Anonymousreply 705/04/2021

Is he part Arab?

by Anonymousreply 805/04/2021

I'll read it first and then pass judgment.

by Anonymousreply 905/04/2021

[quote]I've met a couple of Sebastians -- all guys with Spanish-speaking parents.

Weird, it's a French name.

by Anonymousreply 1005/04/2021

"While we’re told that Sebastian’s mother is Arab and his father is white, we’re not given any further information, which leaves Sebastian’s character unnecessarily ill-defined."

Ah, so 'Sebastian' is him.

by Anonymousreply 1105/04/2021

Saleh is an iraqi Sephardic name.

by Anonymousreply 1205/04/2021

Saleh is an iraqi Sephardic name.

by Anonymousreply 1305/04/2021

I hate books like this. I get that they can be significant or groundbreaking and that they represent a minority voice and all the rest of it, but for the last 20 years they all seem like the same story: upper-middle-class minority-adjacent authorial stand-in learns that yes - he really is as important as he always thought he was.

Write a story about a gay guy who isn't invited to "awkward cocktails" (Jesus fucking Christ) because he's too busy working in an Amazon warehouse and I might be interested.

by Anonymousreply 1405/05/2021

[quote] Write a story about a gay guy who isn't invited to "awkward cocktails" (Jesus fucking Christ) because he's too busy working in an Amazon warehouse and I might be interested.

Might? Way to pitch such an incredibly gripping concept. A working class gay? How riveting!

by Anonymousreply 1505/05/2021

Zak Salih is not and hairy.

by Anonymousreply 1605/05/2021

I read it. It was okay, worth checking out from the library, but worth buying. Nothing particularly special. Ending kind of ripped off from a Flannery O’Connor story.

by Anonymousreply 1705/05/2021

Sounds good OP. Handsome author :)

by Anonymousreply 1805/05/2021

I’m curious to read. I want to learn more about the gay millennial perspective. Post-HIV, gay marriage and Grindr.

by Anonymousreply 1905/05/2021

R2 I knew a Sebastian Patti. A quick google search tells me he's now an Immigration Judge in LA. I had brief fling with him in late 70's when he was studying law at KU (Kansas University). Interesting fellow. Hadn't thought of him until this thread. He went by " Seb"

by Anonymousreply 2005/05/2021

I considered 'Sebastian' before settling on Ronan.

by Anonymousreply 2105/05/2021

R10, I actually like the way Sebastian sounds in Spanish best.

by Anonymousreply 2205/05/2021
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