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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lambda 1

A reader (oh, how thankful I am for readers) suggested I use this space to share a bit about being a Lambda Literary Award Finalist. Strictly speaking, it is my novel, Arusha, that is the finalist. I have nice gold stickers to put on copies of the book that say so!

Being shortlisted for a Lambda Award is, truly, an honor, something I hoped would happen someday but did not expect for my first book. These awards have been around since the 1980s, and some of our most admired writers have won: Nicola Griffith. Emma Donoghue. Jane Rule. Mark Doty. The list of winners for a single year can read like a Who's Who of writers in our community. And, since this is my rambling post, I would like to borrow an expression from Nicola Griffith and Kelley Eskridge: instead of the cumbersome "LGBT" I am going to use the more pronounceable nickname QLTBG or "quiltbag."

Not everyone, of course, is familiar with the Lambda Awards. Here in Britain, for example, I'm not sure writers understand why the USA has special awards for literature relating to quiltbag people. This might have something to do with the fact that writers in other countries who are quiltbag, or who write about quiltbag characters, are just part of mainstream publishing. And that, in turn, might have something to do with the fact that in a country like Britain, we have achieved more or less full equality. What a different experience from that of an American, whose entire adult life has been shaped by homophobic laws!

So, why the Lambdas? Quiltbag literature is literature, and it is global. The Lambdas are given to US-published books regardless of where the winners live, or are from. Griffith is English and lives in the US. Donoghue is Irish and lives in Canada. Rule was a US-born Canadian, and one of our greats.

So, that's why I'm honored that Arusha is among the finalists for this year's award, the first ever in the category of Bisexual Fiction.

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