“A handsome but tormented Cuban man finds both joy and hardship in this operatic novel."

Kirkus Reviews

2017 Ferro Grumley Award Finalist!



paperback, 268 pages


Also available in digital formats at $9.99

Official publication date: September 22, 2016

2017 Ferro Grumley Award Finalist


The Troubleseeker


by Alan Lessik


The Troubleseeker tells the contemporary odyssey of Antinio, a native-born Cuban who confronts his gay identity in post-revolution Cuba and as a refugee in America. Narrated by the ancient Roman Emperor and demigod Hadrian, The Troubleseeker weaves Cuban Santería traditions with classical Greek mythology to depict Antinio’s quest to achieve both freedom and love.


“Lessik’s prose is always sympathetic and eloquent.”

Kirkus Reviews

"An exceedingly rich novel, reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez."

ALA GLBT Reviews

“This stunningly creative novel combines history and mythology from several cultures to tell the story of Antinio, a gay Cuban man, as he searches for freedom and love in the face of oppression and disease.”

—Charles Green,
The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide


Praise for The Troubleseeker

“Alan Lessik’s The Troubleseeker succeeds on several fronts: as a passionate gay story that documents the devastation caused by AIDS in the epidemic’s early days; as a vivid depiction of post-revolutionary Cuba leading to the disastrous Special Period; and as a clever retelling of myth where the gods of the Greek pantheon and those of Santería mingle, compare notes, and join forces. The compelling tale of Antinio, the protagonist, in some ways evokes the life and times of the great Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas: a life where sex is a site of pleasure but also a means for empowering self-expression and identity. Lessik’s writing is rich in descriptions, by turns poetic, and delivered by a narrator whose own captivating story lures us in like the Siren’s call. A book you won’t want to stop reading, The Troubleseeker offers the best that literature can give: a moving human chronicle that both entertains and lingers in our hearts.”

Elías Miguel Muñoz, author of the novels The Greatest Performance, Brand New Memory, and Diary of Fire

“Alan Lessik combines several unlikely fictional elements and an unexpected point of view in this auspicious debut novel. But it pays off: The Troubleseeker is an engrossing read about one gay man’s life-voyage that manages to be fantastic and yet quite real, with a wonderful overlay flavoring of the Caribbean that you can almost taste.”

Felice Picano, author of True Stories and Nights at Rizzoli


“Alan Lessik's The Troubleseeker is an extraordinary novel and a deeply moving expression of love. Gathering its beautifully numinous mythic and cultural materials, the book deftly tells the story of our hero's journey, a gay Cuban man in the midst of life and historical tumult. With a soulfull daring to take risks, Lessik pulls us to witness the full heat of life and love inside the human heart.”

Tim Miller, Performer and author of Body Blows and 1001 Beds


“In this remarkable debut novel, author Alan Lessik weaves the modern day struggle of a gay Cuban man's sprawling journey with mythological import. Our hero receives intervention from gods and demi-gods both loving and capricious, proving our very human fragility.”

—Jim Provenzano, Lambda Literary Award-winning author

“Lessik writes from the heart…this novel is not only entertaining but is one that will stay with us for a long time after closing its covers.”

Amos Lassen, Reviews by Amos Lassen

"A fantastic first novel… Expertly told… All readers open to exciting new gay novels will want to read this book."

James Doig Anderson, Professor Emeritus of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University, ALA GLBT Reviews

“With its accessible writing, a compelling central character, and a fascinating blend of languages and cultures, The Troubleseeker is a powerful first novel.”

—Charles Green, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide

“Lessik deftly weaves several narrative strands to create this story, which becomes greater than any of its single parts. Far more than the life story of one immigrant’s journey, or a Gay man’s search for love and/or identity, this odyssey is a potent mash-up of contemporary history, Greek mythology, Caribbean Santería, and queer eroticism, and in its own way is just as epic.”

—Keith Glaeske, Lambda Literary


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About the author

Alan Lessik is, in addition to being a writer, a zen practioner, amateur figure skater, and non-profit director. His non-fiction works include news articles published in the Advocate, San Francisco Bay Guardian, and Frontiers.