By Grace Briggs-Jones
The winners of the 35th Annual Lambda Literary Awards were announced on 9 June. The winners were selected by a panel of over sixty literary professionals from more than 1,300 book submissions from over 300 publishers. In addition to the winners, five honors were awarded: Eboni J. Dunbar (Kenan Prize), Jaquira Díaz (Córdova Prize), Maya Salameh and Naseem Jamnia (Markowitz Prize), Christopher Tradowsky (Samuel Prize), Aaron Hamburger and Ryka Aoki (Duggins Prize).
Not only is K-Ming Chang’s Gods of Want a New York Times Notable Book of 2022, it is now also the winner of Lesbian Fiction. The book is full of original stories that brim with moths, myths, memories and mothers, nine-headed birds, ghost cousins and storm-chasers –
and delves into corporeality and ghostliness, queerness and the quotidian with boundless imagination, making it a must-read.
Danny Ramadan’s The Foghorn Echoes has won Gay Fiction. This tragic love story, split between war-torn Damascus and unforgiving Vancouver, is about coping with shared traumatic experiences and devastating separation. With Hussam and Wassim coming to terms with the past, they begin to realise the secret that haunts them is not the only secret that formed them… a contemporary, mystical, timeless novel that needs to be on your shelf.
A harrowing, sultry horror novel, for fans of Mexican Gothic, about the forgotten women in Dracula and Jane Eyre as they combat the toxic men intent on destroying their lives tops Bisexual Fiction. Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste focuses on Lucy and Bertha as they must boldly reclaim their stories from the men who tried to erase them. A gothic tale of love, betrayal and coercion, this is a deserved winner.
Cat Fitzpatrick’s The Call-Out wins Transgender Fiction; a fast-paced, debut tragicomedy of manners written in verse about queer – mostly trans – women that is funny, literary, philosophical, witty, sometimes bitchy and sometimes heart-breaking. A modern novel of manners that gives readers access to a vibrant cultural underground, this should definitely be on your reading list.
Winning Bisexual Non-fiction is a book that offers expansive discussion of films that are widely enjoyed but not yet fully recognised for the way they play with, unsettle and write themselves into the US independent and queer cinema canons. The fourth volume of Appropriate Behaviour by Maria San Filippo is an amazing read that speaks to readers already knowledgeable about queer screen culture and recent shifts in the indie sector.
A boldly drawn, unforgettable memoir about trauma and the barriers to gender affirming health care, Emma Grove’s The Third Person wins Transgender Non-fiction. This book is a testament to the importance of having the space to heal and live authentically. Grove draws in thick, emotive lines creating a singular, gripping depiction of the intersection of identities and trauma. A riveting memoir from a newcomer, this should be on your reading list.
Acclaimed poet Hafizah Augustus Geter reclaims her origin story in The Black Period combining biting criticism and haunting visuals – and wins LGBTQ+ Non-fiction. A unique combination of gripping memoir, history, political analysis, cultural criticism and Afrofuturist thought, alongside stunning original artwork created by Tyrone Geter, Geter’s father. An innovative and exquisitely told book with dazzling lyricism, The Black Period is a must-read!
Taking the top spot in LGBTQ+ Anthology is OutWrite: The Speeches That Shaped LGBTQ Literary Culture. The annual OutWrite Conference, which ran from 1990 to 1999, played a pivotal role in shaping LGBTQ literary culture in the US. This anthology gives readers a taste of this fabulous moment in LGBTQ literary history with twenty-seven of the most memorable speeches from the OutWrite Conference – an anthology worthy of everyone’s bookshelf.
A refreshingly spirited version of the classic tale, Mighty Red Riding Hood by Wallace West explores the challenge of staying on your path when confronted by strangers who don’t want to understand you. This has taken the top spot in LGBTQ+ Children’s Books and will make a great addition to any child’s bookshelf.
From the acclaimed actor and Stonewall Honor-winning author Maulik Pancholy, Nikhil Out Loud is about a gay Indian American boy who learns the power of using his voice. A layered coming-of-age tale that merges puberty woes with familial expectations and grief, a must-read for fans of Merci Suárez Changes Gears and Better Nate Than Ever, wins LGBTQ+ Middle Grade.
The Lesbiana’s Guide To Catholic School by Sonora Reyes is a National Book Award Finalist, William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist, Goodreads Finalist for Best Teen Book of the Year, Walter Honor Award Winner, Pura Belpré Honor Book and now LGBTQ+ Young Adult winner. A sharply funny and moving debut novel about a queer Mexican American girl navigating Catholic school, while falling in love and learning to celebrate her true self. Told in a captivating voice that is hilarious, vulnerable and searingly honest, Reyes’ book explores the joys and heartaches of living your full truth out loud and is a much-deserved winner.
Congratulations to all the winners! Pick up any of the winning books at Bookshop.org where your purchase will benefit the Lambda Literary Foundation!