Review: Blackouts by Justin Torres

Title: Blackouts

Author: Justin Torres

Pages: 321 Pages

Publisher: Granta Publications

The Blurb

An intimate, emotionally rich novel, in which two men – young and old – reckon with queer histories and their place within them, from the critically acclaimed author of We the Animals.

Juan Gay is on his deathbed. He has decided to spend his last days in The Palace: a monumental, fading institution in the desert, which was an asylum in another lifetime. There, a young man tends to this dying soul – someone who Juan met only once, but who has haunted the edges of his life ever since.

As the end approaches, the two trade stories – resurrecting lost loves, lives, mothers and fathers – and their lives are woven, ineluctably, into a broader story of pathology and oppression. Charged with sifting through Juan’s belongings, our narrator uncovers a copy of Sex Variants: A Study in Homosexual Patterns, its pages blacked out, censored, reduced down to poetic dispatches. And, as he sifts through the manuscript, another story is told: that of Jan Gay – a radical, queer anthropologist – whose ground-breaking work was co-opted, and stifled, by the committee she served.

Blackouts is a haunting, dreamlike rumination on memory and erasure, on the ways in which stories sustain histories. Both emotionally and intellectually daring, Justin Torres blends fact with fiction – drawing from historical records, screenplays, testimony and image – force us to look again at the world we have inherited and the narratives we have received.

The Review

Blackouts is a lovely and heartbreaking story about the friendship between two gay men – one of whom is on his deathbed. It explores the issues of mental health, of love, lust and sex.

Additionally, it explored the changes in perception towards the LGBT+ community and also sadly how things have stayed the same.

It is a sumptuous story that allows the reader to get completely lost in the story.

I thoroughly recommend this book

Blackouts by Justin Torres is available now.

For more information regarding Granta Publications (@GrantaBooks) please visit

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