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Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed author of Ash Malinda Lo returns with her most personal and ambitious novel yet, a gripping story of love and duty set in San Francisco's Chinatown during the 1950s.

"That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other." And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: "Have you ever heard of such a thing?" 

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can't remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club. 

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father - despite his hard-won citizenship - Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day. 

This audiobook includes a PDF of the bibliography and acknowledgments from the book. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2021 Malinda Lo (P)2021 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

Winner of the National Book Award 

Winner of the Stonewall Book Award 

Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature 

A Michael L. Printz Honor Book 

A We Need Diverse Books

Walter Dean Myers Honor Book 

A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist

"Lo's writing, restrained yet luscious, shimmers with the thrills of youthful desire. A lovely, memorable novel about listening to the whispers of a wayward heart and claiming a place in the world."—Sarah Waters, international bestselling and award winning author of Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch

"Exquisite and heart-shattering, Last Night at the Telegraph Club made me ache with wishing. This book is for anyone who has ever loved—in any sense of the word."—Emily X.R. Pan, New York Times bestselling author of The Astonishing Color of After

"Lo beckons readers, sentence by restrained sentence, into this incandescent novel of queer possibility."—National Book Award Winner Citation

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What listeners say about Last Night at the Telegraph Club

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Critiquing queer books

Let me just start by saying I loved the narrator! they did an excellent job!

The story on the other hand was not my favorite. I'm a queer woman and I don't read many queer stories, especially lesbian queer stories but I don't think that means that we shouldn't critique them. I think we should because then we'll be able to get more excellent queer stories.

I was not a fan of the writing style. I can also say that I haven't read many historical fiction books, but I feel like historical fiction should go big or go home. I don't think you should write a historical fiction if you don't actually delve into the consequences of the time period. I really expected it to talk more about communism and have more repercussions on her family instead of just minor threats. I also feel like there wasn't many repercussions to being queer in this book aside from the ending. Malinda Lo uses these timeline chapters to discuss the historical events related to the story but they don't really relate to the story and if they do it's really not expanded on.

I feel like this book just as easily could have taken place during the current time period, like it didn't need to take place during the 50s and at times doesn't seem like it is because you feel so detached from what's going on according to history.

For a while I couldn't tell if I wanted Lily and Kath to be together because it seemed like the Chinese femme lesbian and the Italian Butch lesbian are the only queers in their school and they like each other so obviously they're gonna date. I do admit that when they did have their moments together I was a blushing mess but that's just a given.

I really wanted more from this story but I appreciated it all the same.

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Amazing read

Fantastic read!!!
Historical events about space exploration mixed with a love story!! I enjoyed learning more about Chinese American culture.

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AMAZING

This book has been recommended to me multiple times, and I finally got around to reading it. Let me just say, this was the best decision of my life! Malinda Lo did a great job describing Lily’s (MC) world. I didn’t know much about 1950’s Chinatown, but Lo’s language was so vivid, I felt like I was transported to San Fransisco and sipping a martini at the Telegraph club with Tommy serenading me! Of course, I was drawn to this book because of the queer representation, but I stayed for the history! My favorite part was the timelines between chapters that gave the historical background. LGBTQIA+ history, especially the stories of queer POC is usually censored at school or completely ignored, so this book was really refreshing. I had a rollercoaster of emotions as Lily discovered her identity and developed her relationship with Cath. I had a indescribable connection to Lily because I’ve felt many of the feelings she had. The fear of coming out and the realization that your relationship with your family may never be the same. Lo did an amazing job developing Lily and Cath’s characters that I felt they were real. In addition, the narrator did a great job distinguishing the different characters voices so I knew who was talking. Each voice was unique and suited the characters personality. Overall, I would give this audiobook at 10/10! I will definitely be reading Lo’s other work.

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Very sweet and pure love story

I loved this story and the characters. Thought it was a very sweet and honest discovery of love for another person. Love is love. I found myself becoming very emotional at the end of the story and so glad that there was hope for the ability of these characters to continue to explore their relationship.

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Love in Chinatown during the Red Scare

This book deserves all the awards: National Book Award for Young People's Literature (2021), Michael L. Printz Award Nominee (2022), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2021), Teen category, Walter Dean Myers Honor Award. Awesomely narrated by Emily Woo Zeller; this story takes place in 1954 Chinatown where high school student Lily Hu lives with her family, with an annoying, an overbearing best friend, and the Red Scare has taken her doctor father's Naturalization Papers because of a patient her saw. When Lily begins to realize she has feelings for Kath Miller as a result of sneaking out to the GAY bar to see a female impersonator, the reader follows Kath and Lily's friendship turn to relationship and how their world blows up. Thoroughly researched this a must read for YA readers on the history of the Red Scare, life in Chinatown, and the growth of lesbian movement.

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Wonderful.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a beautifully written and narrated love story. It teaches as it touches your heart and I adored it.

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Well done

Good story with a ton of historical information. It’s an important story especially for younger people to understand where we came from as lesbians. It gave a good look into the life of an Asian American.

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Really Good Storytelling

There isn’t anything I didn’t enjoy about this book. It was just really good storytelling. Narration was also excellent. 5 stars all around!

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  • L.
  • 09-06-21

Beautiful, and heartbreakingly relatable

God, this book hit home. So sweet, and so inspiring. I did NOT want it to be over!

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  • MB
  • 07-16-21

Really refreshing title!

I only just started listening to audiobooks (I normally stick to physical books), and this was the second one I've read. I thoroughly enjoyed Emily Woo Zeller's performance, and she really nails the inflections of the teenage girls in the story. Great story by Malinda Lo. I normally don't read this genre, but this was a lovely and refreshing read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-09-21

So good

I loved this book. Such a good story. Wow. Enjoyed this, very grateful for this experience. Thank you

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  • Elle Wellman
  • 04-20-21

Great book, I would recommend to anyone!

Amazing book, I couldn't stop listening.
If you aren't sure, go for it!
I will be listening again.

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  • Joanna L
  • 02-03-22

Wow!

Brilliant, nuanced historical fiction. Great fun and thought provoking. A real treat. I will definitely be checking out other titles by this author.

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  • STH
  • 05-21-21

Excellent

Beautifully written story giving a wonderful insight into the lives of Asian Americans in the 50s and the challenges queer people faced in an age of oppressive laws. Highly recommend.

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  • Emmy Erskine
  • 05-13-21

Beautiful

One of the best books I've listened to in a while, didn't want to stop listening and was sad that it ended. Would definitely recommend.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-07-21

A beautiful story I never wanted to finish

Lily's story is so relateable, I truly never wanted to leave her behind. Completely absorbing!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-21-22

A beautiful book with incredible narration.

Content warnings: homophobia (including slurs), racism (including slurs), sexism, misogyny, coming out themes, deportation discussion.

Rep: Lily is Chinese and lesbian. Kath is lesbian. Shirley is Chinese. Several other Chinese characters. Several other lesbian characters.


Sometimes it is really hard to put into words just how beautiful a book is.
This is what Last Night At The Telegraph Club is for me.

Set in 1950s San Francisco, this is the story of 17 year old Lily (a “good Chinese girl”) who discovers herself, her sexuality, and realises there is more to the world than what is expected of her.

She sees an advertisement for the Telegraph Club on the same page as an advert for her best friends’ family’s restaurant in the newspaper, and is immediately captivated by it. She’s drawn to the picture of Tommy Andrews – male impersonator, and this is where the story starts.

Lily’s discovery of her sexuality, the way she falls in love with Kath, and all of the raw, beautiful feelings involved was so amazing to read about.

The writing is something I fell absolutely in love with and it made me fly through the book.

The times that Lily and Kath spent at the Telegraph Club were so vivid and so inviting that it felt like I was really there with them.

My heart ached in places, and rejoiced in others. This book was incredibly well written, and I can’t recommend it enough.

I especially loved the author’s notes at the end, and how Malinda Lo explains the research she did, how she wanted to keep the language to what was used in the 50s, despite it being very outdated. She explains that there were not many queer people of colour really ‘out’ like there was for white people, so having this story, Lily’s story, just means so much more.

There are parts of this book that are a little heavier – the family dynamics and the homophobia for one, but I just absolutely love this book. It is a new favourite of mine.

5/5 stars.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-11-21

Highly recommended!

Fantastic writing that creates an intimate portrait of a queer Chinese American teenager and transports you to the era. I would describe it more as a coming of age tale as the romance felt a bit underdeveloped. I really enjoyed Emily Woo Zeller's performance - great character voices, accents and effortlessly switches between Chinese dialects. Overall, I would highly recommend it as a listening experience!