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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

A national best seller

"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 best-selling and award winning author of Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch

"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 best-selling and award winning author of Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch

"Lily is my favorite kind of heroine: observant, loving, and startlingly brave. Malinda Lo is my favorite kind of writer, one who can bring a scene to life with exquisite detail and nuance. Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a triumph. It is the queer novel I wish I had read as a teenager, and feel lucky to have read now." (Marie Rutkoski, New York Times best-selling author of the Winner's Trilogy)

What listeners say about Last Night at the Telegraph Club

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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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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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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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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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  • Mag
  • 02-02-21

Amazing read

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

2 people found this helpful

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  • MB
  • 16-07-21

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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  • Rachael
  • 07-05-21

A window into 1950's Queer Chinese American life

This book was fantastic. It introduces the average person to the difficulties of intersectional identities during teen years. It allowed me to see that arenas that I as a queer white person would be comfortable would be a place of anxiety for POC queer people. It also showed that a supportive network, even of strangers, can allow for self discovery. I love this book and the intimate window into a culture and life experience it provides.

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  • angelina
  • 27-04-21

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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  • Emma Root
  • 22-04-21

Amazing!

This book was amazing! I haven’t read many historical fiction but I’m so glad I picked up this. Once I realized it was Emily Woo Zeller I was immediately excited, I love her audiobooks. I also knew I wanted to read Malinda Lo’s books, as whenever I google things like “sapphic young adult fantasies” her books come up. But anyway, this book was really special. Mostly it was joyous, but then it hurt, yes it hurt, but I loved it. If you like ya queer contemporary books you’ll probably like this as it felt similar, but in the 1950s. I really liked the protagonist. I also liked the historical tidbits, but I mean I was a history major, specifically one that took many Chinese history classes, so that makes sense. Anyway read this book!

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  • Unknown
  • 15-04-21

Bravo Malinda Lo

I didn't want it to end.

Lily and Kath, two queer girls in the 50s, a lesbian bar, it's hard to imagine but Malinda Lo gives us an idea of how life might have been for women like us in those days, heartbreaking yet somehow uplifting.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-04-21

YES YES YES!!!

My favorite wlw book to date, there is so much to love about this! Brilliantly written and paced with captivating characters. Melinda captures the self discovery of queerness so perfectly, from the "ring of keys" moment when Lily first sees the newspaper clipping of Tommy to entering a queer space for the first time and how scary/exhilarating it is. A captivating perspective on both the queer experience and Chinese American experience during the McCarthy era in San Fransisco. The narrator was AMAZING, each character had their own voicing and felt so real. Will definitely be re-listening to this!

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  • Kira
  • 31-03-21

daaaang

I accidentally listened to this all in one day. performance was great, and the story is something that hasn't made me think or feel like this in quite a while.