By Justin Rodriguez
The latest addition to the Gay Community Center is a bookstore on the second floor called, queerly enough, Bureau for General Services – Queer Division.
The retailer carries a diverse selection of literature from classic novels such as James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room” to popular zines like “Gay Letter.” They also present art by some of downtown’s most exciting emerging artists and host events featuring contemporary gay authors. On Sunday, December 21, Hans Hirschi will read from his latest novel, “The Fallen Angels of Karnataka.”
Congratulations on the breakout success of “Fallen Angels of Karnataka.”
Thank you. The novel has an important message to tell, about how we are often blind to what’s right in front of us. The main character’s journey highlights the darkest sides of humanity, but there is also love, redemption and hope for a better world.
Online sales of the book have surpassed sales of the hard copy. Is print dead?
No, far from it. There’s room for both print and digital. I think people sometimes need reminding how much more satisfying the immediacy of a printed book is.
Why are gay independent bookstores, like Bureau of General Services – Queer Division, important for the gay community?
Stores like The Bureau are more than retailers. They are queer cultural centers, event venues and art galleries. The Bureau provides local and visiting gay people with books, zines, art and events that are either produced by and for the community.
As a gay author, what do you need to do to keep people reading?
While HIV and coming out stories are a part of our DNA, I think we are more than that. I try to showcase relevant, contemporary stories about gay life in my writing, everything from relationships to family and children. In my next book, I will tackle our responsibility toward the planet.
You’re coming to NYC at the most festive time of the year! What are you most looking forward to?
This will be our first trip to the Big Apple since 2001. This time my dad and son are joining my husband and me, so we’ll have to find time to visit all the usual tourist traps!
Hans Hirschi reads from “The Fallen Angels of Karnataka” December 21 at 4 P.M. at the Bureau for General Services – Queer Division, the gay bookstore at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center (208 West 13th Street, Room 210). The event is FREE and open to all. For more information visit: