Samantha Orciel, English Subject Advisor
At OCR, our A Level English Literature NEA is designed to give students and teachers scope to explore contemporary literature written in English. In this blog, we’re highlighting an extended range of LGBTQ+ contemporary texts (published in 2015 or later) to support you in selecting texts beyond those traditionally taught or chosen for non-exam assessment.
Winner of the Costa Poetry Award and shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize, Chan’s collection is simultaneously profound and playful, with language and concepts that will resonate with and be accessible to many students.
Themes: culture, multilingualism, desire, family, identity
Vuong’s debut collection is dream-like and lyrical, while still presenting provocative concepts and images with precision. Winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, there is an impressive range of stylistic choices for students to explore here.
Themes: family, history, identity, desire, war, grief
At 29, Smith became the youngest-ever winner of the prestigious Forward Prize for this collection. Smith’s poems are musical and defiant (and sometimes humorous), tackling a range of contemporary social and political ideas.
Themes: race, family, power, violence, spirituality
Qureshi won the Papatango New Writing prize with this play, set in a Muslim funeral parlour in the Midlands. With plenty of contemporary echoes of real-world events, this is a compelling exploration of conflicting ideas.
Themes: religion, relationships, death, secrecy, unrequited love
Winner of last year’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama, this play cleverly transforms Shakespeare’s Hamlet into a text set at a family barbecue in the American South. Ijames has taken the narrative beyond a straightforward retelling, choosing to focus on fresh themes with humour and poignancy.
Themes: family, secrecy, nostalgia, trauma, identity
Cameron’s work took London’s West End by storm when it first premiered in 2019, and had a sold-out revival in the first half of this year. An echo of Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem, this multi-genre text is a dynamic, inventive and ambitious text with many resonances for a range of young people.
Themes: race, identity, love, friendship, mental health
Armfield’s debut novel is a compelling, carefully-paced tale about the transformation of a woman after a deep-sea voyage. With strong echoes of Gothic narratives and surrealism in a modern framework, this is an unusual but rich novel to explore.
Themes: fear, relationships, grief, loss, mental health
The study of literary memoir is welcome in the NEA, and Shapland’s genre-twisting text would be an excellent place to start. Balancing personal reflections with literary criticism and social commentary, it’s a thought-provoking and rewarding read.
Themes: identity, memory, illness, secrecy, legacy
Hot off the presses from the Booker-shortlisted Taylor is this exploration of relationships in campus-town America. An overlapping and lively cast of characters give this novel the feel of a grand conversation, focused on young people dealing with a turning point in their lives.
Themes: class, ambition, desire, identity, family
Share your thoughts in the comments below. If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_English. You can also sign up to subject updates to keep up-to-date with the latest news, updates and resources.
Prior to joining OCR in September 2022, Sam spent ten years teaching a range of English qualifications in secondary schools, including as a head of department. She did this alongside completing a MSt in Advanced Subject Teaching at the University of Cambridge, specialising in A Level English curricula and pedagogy.
In her spare time, you’ll find her either fussing over her dog, watching tennis, or (predictably!) reading anything and everything.