Lambda Literary Award Finalists You Must Read

By Jase Peeples and Diane Anderson-Minshall

Originally published on Advocate.com March 07 2013 4:32 PM ET

Celebrating achievement in LGBT literature, The Lambda Literary Foundation (LLF) announced the finalists for the 25th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, which will be held June 3, 2013, at The Great Hall at Cooper Union in New York.

Finalists were selected from 687 submissions, a new record for the Lammys, prompting the Lambda Foundation to allow judges to choose a larger number of finalists in many of the 23 awards categories.

We look at five nominees that belong on everyone's must-read list.

No Straight Lines by Justin Hall

Queer comics appeared in gay newspapers, gay bookstores, punk zines, and other underground publications. Unrestricted by the conservative boundaries of the mainstream, queer creators tackled complex issues important to the LGBT community – giving rise to some of the best comics the genre has ever seen.

Curated by award-winning cartoonist Justin Hall (True Travel Tales, Glamazonia), No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics celebrates this vibrant underground by gathering a colossal collection of the works for the first time. 

History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason
If you’re already loving Downtown Abbey, you’ll adore Richard Mason’s opulent new coming-of-age drama set at the turn of the 20th century in Amsterdam. History of a Pleasure Seeker follows Piet, a charming but austere young man who becomes the tutor for the son of a tycoon, soon observing and then eventually pursuing all manner of pleasure himself, including the charms of his employer's wife and the attentions of certain gentlemen on the staff.

The Paternity Test by Michael Lowenthal
Pregnancy can make any complicated relationship even more complicated. Michael Lowenthal creates a peek into a gay couple’s attempt to save a marriage by moving away from the big city and making a baby with an alluring married surrogate. Just be warned: It’s a page-turner thanks to its realistic characters and a situation that might hit close to home for some.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

This long-awaited memoir by the lesbian author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (which became a film, see video below) covers much of the same material as that autobiographical nove, but delves even deeper into her relationship with a religiously zealous adoptive mother who treated her like the spawn of Satan.

“Mrs. Winterson,” as Winterson calls her mother in the memoir, was an enormous British woman and “flamboyant depressive… who kept a revolver in the duster drawer, and the bullets in a tin of Pledge.”

The elder Winterson waited with baited anticipation for an imminent biblical apocalypse that would strike down her godless neighbors and deliver her into the rapture her piety must have surely earned her. As must have raising Jeanette and doing her best to wrest the disobedient child into a god-fearing Christian. “

The Devil led us to the wrong crib,” Mrs. Winterson liked to say. She employed all of her resources in her fight against Satan, sparing neither rod nor scripture. But nothing — not beatings, shutting the child “in a coal hole,” nor routinely locking her out of the house all night — seemed to work.—Trudy Ring

The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard, edited by Ron Padgett and Paul Auster

Joe Brainard was a gay painter, set designer, writer, and influential Greenwich Village personality during the 1960s and ’70s. Brainard, who died in 1994 of AIDS-related pneumonia, is best remembered as the author of the unusual book I Remember, which was really a litany of things he remembered from his childhood, including “I remember white bread and tearing off the crust and rolling the middle part up into a ball and eating it” and “I remember crossing your fingers behind your back when you tell a lie.”

This must-read 544-page collection of Brainard's writing is a fun and utterly enjoyable pairing of I Remember with mini-essays, nano stories (“Ten years ago I left home to go to the city and strike it big. But the only thing that was striking was the clock as it quickly ticked away my life”), reimagined comic strips (like Dick Tracy thinking, “Beware of boys in tight pants”), ruminations, favored quotes, overheard phrases (“Things we see from car windows are remembered for many years”), and reflections on art.

Full List of Finalists of the 25th Annual Lambda Literary Awards

 

Transgender Fiction

1. Being Emily, Rachel Gold, Bella Books

2. The Collection: Short Fiction From The Transgender Vanguard, Edited by Tom Léger and Riley MacLeod, Topside Press

3. Dialectic of the Flesh, Roz Kaveney, A Midsummer Night’s Press

4. First Spring Grass Fire, Rae Spoon, Arsenal Pulp Press

5. Offspring, Michael Quadland, Red Hen Press

 

Transgender Nonfiction

1. Seasonal Velocities, Ryka Aoki, Trans-Genre Press

2. Teeny Weenies and Other Short Subjects, Matt Kailey, Outskirts Press

3. Transfeminist Perspectives in and beyond Transgender and Gender Studies, edited by Anne Enke, Temple University Press

4. Transposes, Dylan Edwards, Northwest Press

 

Bisexual Literature

1. Axel Hooley’s Death Watch List, Scotty-Miguel Sandoe, CreateSpace

2. Girlfag: A Life Told In Sex and Musicals, Janet W. Hardy, Beyond Binary Books

3. History of a Pleasure Seeker, Richard Mason, Random House / Alfred A. Knopf

4. In One Person, John Irving, Simon & Schuster

5. My Awesome Place: The Autobiography of Cheryl B, Cheryl Burke, Topside Signature

 

Gay General Fiction

1. A Horse Named Sorrow, Trebor Healey, University of Wisconsin Press

2. The Absolutist, John Boyne, Other Press

3. Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Cinco Puntos Press

4. The Lava in My Bones, Barry Webster, Arsenal Pulp Press

5. Lovers, Daniel Arsand, Europa Editions

6. The Paternity Test, Michael Lowenthal, University of Wisconsin Press

7. Sighs Too Deep For Words, William Jack Sibley, Createspace

8. Spreadeagle, Kevin Killian, Publication Studio

9. These Things Happen, Richard Kramer, Unbridled Books

10. Unbuilt Projects, Paul Lisicky, Four Way Books

 

Gay Memoir/Biography

1. The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard, Ron Padgett, editor, The Library of America

2. Fire in the Belly, Cynthia Carr, Bloomsbury

3. Intolerable, Kamal Al-Solaylee, HarperCollins Canada

4. Midstream: An Unfinished Memoir, Reynolds Price, Scribner

5. My Husband and My Wives: A Gay Man’s Odyssey, Charles Rowan Beye, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

6. Twelve Views from the Distance, Mutsuo Takahashi, author, Jeffrey Angles, translator, University of Minnesota Press

 

Gay Mystery

1. Bokassa’s Last Apostle, Rod Shelton, Paradise Press UK

2. Dos Equis, Anthony Bidulka, Insomniac Press

3. Fires of London, Janice Law, MysteriousPress.com/Open Road

4. Lake on the Mountain: A Dan Sharp Mystery, Jeffrey Round, Dundurn

5. The Yellow Canary, Steve Neil Johnson, Clutching Hand Books

 

Gay Poetry

1. Appetite, Aaron Smith, University of Pittsburgh Press

2. He Do the Gay Man in Different Voices, Stephen S. Mills, Sibling Rivalry Press

3. Looking for the Gulf Motel, Richard Blanco, University of Pittsburgh Press

4. Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin, Patrick Donnelly, Four Way Books

5. Slow Lightning, Eduardo C. Corral, Yale University Press

 

Gay Romance

1. The Celestial, Barry Brennessel, MLR Press

2. Don’t Let Me Go, J.H. Trumble, Kensington

3. Kamikaze Boys, Jay Bell, Jay Bell Books

4. The Nothingness of Ben, Brad Boney, Dreamspinner Press

5. Toughskins, William Masswa, Bold Strokes Books

 

Gay Erotica

1. Coming To: A Collection of Erotic and Other Epiphanies, Lukas Hand, Lethe Press

2. The Facialist, Mykola Dementiuk, JMS Books

3. Raising Hell: Demonic Gay Erotica, Todd Gregory, ed., Bold Strokes Books

4. Secret Societies, William Holden, Bold Strokes Books

5. Strawberries and Other Erotic Fruits, Jerry L. Wheeler, Lethe Press

 

Lesbian General Fiction

1. Carry the One, Carol Anshaw, Simon & Schuster

2. The Last Nude, Ellis Avery, Riverhead Books

3. The Raven’s Heart, Jesse Blackadder, Bywater Books

4. Theft: A Novel, BK Loren, Counterpoint Press

5. Wonder Girls, Catherine Jones, Simon & Schuster UK

6. The World We Found: A Novel, Thrity Umrigar, HarperCollins Publishers / Harper

 

Lesbian Memoir/Biography

1. A Simple Revolution: The Making of an Activist Poet, Judy Grahn, Aunt Lute Books

2. All We Know: Three Lives, Lisa Cohen, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

3. Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama, Alison Bechdel, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

4. Before the Rain, Luisita Lopez Torregrosa, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

5. The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, Sarah Schulman, University of California Press

6. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Jeanette Winterson, Grove/Atlantic

 

Lesbian Mystery

1. Ill Will, J.M. Redmann, Bold Strokes Books

2. Jacob’s War, C.P. Rowlands, Bold Strokes Books

3. Lemon Reef, Robin Silverman, Bold Strokes Books

4. Molly: House on Fire, R. E. Bradshaw, R. E. Bradshaw Books

5. Rest for the Wicked, Ellen Hart, Minotaur Books

 

Lesbian Poetry

1. fault tree, kathryn l. pringle, Omnidawn Publishing

2. Letters to Kelly Clarkson, Julia Bloch, Sidebrow

3. Sea and Fog, Etel Adnan, Nightboat Books

4. Snowflake/different streets, Eileen Myles, Wave Books

5. wine for a shotgun, Marty McConnell, EM Press

 

Lesbian Romance

1. Appointment with a Smile, Kieran York, Blue Feather Books

2. Dark Wings Descending, Lesley Davis, Bold Strokes Books

3. Love Match, Ali Vali, Bold Strokes Books

4. Month of Sundays, Yolanda Wallace, Bold Strokes Books

5. Runaway, Anne Laughlin, Bold Strokes Books

6. She Left Me Breathless, Trin Denise, Ragz Books USA

7. Sometime Yesterday, Yvonne Heidt, Bold Strokes Books

8. Survived by Her Longtime Companion, Chris Paynter, Blue Feather Books

9. Tactical Pursuit, Lynette Mae, Regal Crest Enterprises, LLC

10. Third, Q. Kelly, Ride the Rainbow Books

 

Lesbian Erotica

1. Girls Who Score: Hot Lesbian Erotica, Edited by Ily Goyanes, Cleis Press

2. The Harder She Comes: Butch/Femme Erotica, D.L. King, Cleis Press

3. One Saved to the Sea, Catt Kingsgrave, Clasp Editions; An Imprint of Circlet Press

 

LGBT Anthology

1. For Colored Boys, Keith Boykin, Magnus Books

2. Here Come the Brides!: Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage, Edited by Audrey Bilger & Michele Kort, Seal Press

3. No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, Justin Hall – Editor, Fantagraphics Books

4. Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform, Edited by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, AK Press

 

LGBT Children’s/Young Adult

1. Adaptation, Malinda Lo, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

2. The Adventure of Tulip, Birthday Wish Fairy, S. Bear Bergman and Suzy Malik, Flamingo
Rampant

3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz, Simon & Schuster/ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

4. Ask the Passengers, A.S. King, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

5. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Flux Books

6. Every Day, David Levithan, Knopf Books for Young Readers

7. Kiss the Morning Star, Elissa Janine Hoole, Amazon Children’s Publishing

8. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, emily M. danforth, Balzer + Bray

9. Personal Effects, E.M. Kokie, Candlewick Press

10. Silhouette of a Sparrow, Molly Beth Griffin, Milkweed Editions

 

LGBT Debut Fiction

1. Desire: Tales of New Orleans, William Sterling Walker, Chelsea Station Editions

2. The Dream of Doctor Bantam, Jeanne Thornton, OR Books

3. The Evening Hour, Carter Sickels, Bloomsbury

4. Incidental Music, Lydia Perovic, Inanna Publications

5. Love, In Theory: Ten Stories, E.J. Levy, University of Georgia Press/Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction

6. Makara: a novel, Kristen Ringman, Handtype Press, LLC

7. Monstress, Lysley Tenorio, HarperCollins Publishers / Ecco

8. People Who Disappear, Alex Leslie, Freehand Books (an imprint of Broadview Press)

9. The Summer We Got Free, Mia McKenzie, BGD Press

10. Three Cubic Feet, Lania Knight, Main Street Rag

 

LGBT Drama

1. Edith Can Shoot Things And Hit Them, A. Rey Pamatmat, Samuel French, Inc.

2. Falling In Time, C. E. Gatchalian, J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing/Scirocco Drama

3. The Myopia and Other Plays by David Greenspan, Marc Robinson, University of Michigan Press

4. A Strange and Separate People, Jon Marans, Chelsea Station Editions

5. Thunder Above, Deeps Below, A. Rey Pamatmat, Samuel French, Inc.

 

LGBT Nonfiction

1. Communists and Perverts under the Palms: The Johns Committee in Florida, 1956-1965, Stacy Braukman, University Press of Florida

2. Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America, Christopher Bram, Hachette Book Group/Twelve

3. Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, Andrew Solomon, Scribner

4. Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas, Dale Carpenter, W. W. Norton & Company

5. I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters, Michael Long, Editor, City Lights

6. Israel/Palestine and the Queer International, Sarah Schulman, Duke University Press

7. Out Spoken: A Vito Russo Reader Reel One and Reel Two, Jeffrey Schwarz, Mark Thompson and Bo Young, White Crane Books

8. Real Man Adventures, T Cooper, McSweeney’s

 

LGBT Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror

1. Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction, Brit Mandelo, Lethe Press

2. Chocolatiers of the High Winds: A Gay Steampunk Romance, H.B. Kurtzwilde, Clasp Editions; An Imprint of Circlet Press

3. Green Thumb, Tom Cardamone, Lethe Press

4. Heiresses of Russ 2012: the Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction, Connie Wilkins and Steve Berman, Lethe Press

5. In the Now, Kelly Sinclair, Blue Feather Books

6. Night Shadows: Queer Horror, Greg Herren and J.M. Redmann, eds., Bold Strokes Books

7. The Survivors, Sean Eads, Lethe Press

 

LGBT Studies

1. Acts of Gaiety: LGBT Performance and the Politics of Pleasure, Sara Warner, University of Michigan Press

2. Depression: A Public Feeling, Ann Cvetkovich, Duke University Press

3. Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America, Tracy Baim, Prairie Avenue Productions and Windy City Times

4. How To Be Gay, David M. Halperin, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press

5. The Invention of Heterosexual Culture, Louis-Georges Tin, The MIT Press

6. On Making Sense: Queer Race Narratives of Intelligibility, Ernesto Javier Martínez, Stanford University Press

7. Out of Africa: LGBT Organizing in Namibia and South Africa, Ashley Currier, University of Minnesota Press

8. Performing Queer Latinidad: Dance, Sexuality, Politics, Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, University of Michigan Press

9. Pray the Gay Away The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays, Bernadette C. Barton, NYU Press

10. South Africa and the Dream of Love to Come: Queer Sexuality and the Struggle for Freedom, Brenna M. Munro, University of Minnesota Press

 

Pioneer award honorees, the master of ceremonies, and presenters will be announced the second week of April. Tickets and information about the upcoming ceremony can be found at Lambda Literary Foundation.