On May 18, Penguin Random House hosted Lambda fellows at their New York office for a publishing panel discussion and Q&A. The panel was moderated by Penguin Classics VP & publisher Elda Rotor, and the panelists included Penguin editors Laura Perciasepe (Riverhead) and Jessica Garrison (Dial Books for Young Readers), as well as them executive editor Meredith Talusan and literary agents Meredith Kaffel Simonoff (DeFiore and Company) and Kent Wolf (Friedrich Agency). Fellows from outside of New York joined via a conference line for the discussion.
The panel walked the fellows through one of their typical days as an editor or agent, and then expanded on how they work with and find new authors. The fellows also highlighted their current projects for the panelists. Then, additional members of Penguin editorial, marketing, and publicity teams joined for a casual, fun mingle with the fellows.
Lambda Literary thanks Penguin Random House and the Penguin Diversity Committee for hosting the event!
Dara Sims is a trauma doctor and head of the emergency response team at Miami Memorial Hospital. When Hurricane Leo threatens to devastate southern Florida, a phone call from the hospital’s CEO thrusts Dara into the center of the crisis.
When we first meet Colonel Sawyer Kincaid, she’s on vacation in Miami. Journalist Catherine Winchell tries to hit on her, but Sawyer has already figured out she’s no longer interested in being a player or being played. Sawyer, who commands six thousand National Guard troops, is dedicated and single-minded, but Catherine won’t let go.
Sawyer is only rescued from the clutches of the persistent newswoman by the buzzing of her phone. Unfortunately, the interruption and Sawyer’s rejection of Catherine isn’t the end of their encounters. When Hurricane Leo begins its approach toward land, the women are thrust together again as Catherine embeds with the National Guard, which has been mobilized to help with transfer of patients from one hospital to another and the subsequent rescue of the general public.
As Dangerous Waters finds Dara and Sawyer in their initial meeting to establish roles for the rescue operation to follow, they find one another simultaneously annoying and intriguing. Sawyer identifies Dara as “territorial” and Dara sees Sawyer as “overbearing.” Yet both find something appealing in each other, feelings they continually push aside to focus on the immediacy of the situation. Neither woman has a reputation for being willing to recognize that something powerful is happening between them, but like the storm barreling toward the coast, those feelings are strong and persistent.
As Dara and Sawyer begin their work to move critical patients, they find their interactions often interrupted by Catherine Winchell, a woman who knows how to sniff out a juicy backstory even while reporting on the rescue of patients, and both Sawyer and Dara have pasts that could make for interesting reporting. However, Catherine soon discovers neither woman can be coerced into talking about their past experiences, especially to give her a sensational story.
The storm brings another dramatic turn involving both main characters as they work to help keep victims alive. Trouble hits close to home when Dara finds the patients at her grandmother’s nursing home are threatened by a power failure, and management personnel have gone AWOL.
This story opens with the introduction of minor characters from the weather center and the entire first chapter is devoted to them. We are delayed in meeting Dara and Sawyer until the second and fourth chapters, respectively. But Radclyffe still delivers a powerful, haunting tale, an adventure with romance slowly bubbling to the surface.
Sawyer is the strong, intense hero figure with a tragic past. Dara is resilient and confident with a strong commitment to her role as a physician and has struggled long and hard to be her own woman. This sets the scene for these two women to clash during their initial meeting. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the charismatic colonel and the dedicated doctor have a compelling undercurrent of attraction and longing that runs between them like an invisible thread, inevitably drawing the two of them together.
Minor characters are well devised, from Dara’s snooty, yet dedicated mother; her charming grandmother, who still has the wherewithal to cover up her lapses in memory; and Catherine Winchell, at once prying and troublesome, but also fearless and committed to her work as a journalist.
Dangerous Waters is a bumpy ride through a devastating time with powerful events and resolute characters. Radclyffe gives us the strong, dedicated women we love to read in a story that keeps us turning pages until the end.
Bold Strokes Books
Paperback, 9781635552331, 229 pp.
In his previous novels and short stories, Brian Leung has presented us with what seems a near encyclopedic catalogue of the ways that we, as human beings, might learn to love each other better. The sheer diversity of his imaginings on this topic is impressive enough as it stands. And yet his newest novel, Ivy vs. Dogg: With a Cast of Thousands ( May 2018, C&R Press), somehow manages to provide a fresh approach, a lens through which we might learn to see each other again in this era of political strife, and more than that: a way to laugh.
Teenage Ivy Simmons has a longstanding rivalry with Jimmy, “Dogg,” Doggins, high school tennis star, and hometown hero. Their sparring comes to a head when the town of Mudlick’s annual Jr. Mr. Mayor election is announced and Ivy becomes the first female ever to run. Mudlick’s busybody leaders, known as “the committee” do not approve, especially when Ivy reveals that she is pregnant. Displeased with the public debate over what Ivy should do about her unborn child, reclusive matriarch, Abigail Colton, displays a lifelike topiary girl on her front lawn, enchanting all of Mudlick to the point where they fear for the life of this “girl” when Colton also rolls out a topiary of a giant squid. Between this and the election, emotions run high, squeezing Ivy and Dogg from all sides and forcing them to make the most adult decision of their lives
I spoke with Brian Leung about this warm, funny and deeply human new novel on the eve of its publication.
Let’s talk about the humor in this book. Your previous novels (Take Me Home and Lost Men) certainly had humorous moments, but Ivy vs. Dogg puts humor front and center. Was this a conscious choice or something that happened organically?
People know me as a “serious” writer but a very wise-cracking person. For some of my friends, this has always been a strange disconnect. And since you’re the first person I’m talking with about this novel, let me share that it’s a relief that the humor comes across, because the genesis involves me yelling at my car radio. I knew pretty quickly that wasn’t a good place to start writing from. The core anger, yes, but not a ferocity of righteousness. So, I went to my happy place and began thinking about what’s ridiculous about a culture insisting that it knows what’s good for women’s bodies despite what an individual woman might think.
I also thought about the whole, “it takes a village” thing with a pinch of reality that teenagers might not be fully equipped to make the best decisions for themselves without getting advice from trusted adults. Hilarious, right? But, and this is true, I decided to channel Groucho Marx’ autobiography, Groucho and Me, which I read in my late teens with relish. If I was cooler, I’d lie and say I channeled Dave Chappelle or Margaret Cho, but structurally, you can read this novel as a pile on (the committee, the disco, the fishing derby, the parade, the topiaries) as if it’s the cabin scene of A Night at the Opera. Thus the novel title’s addition “With a Cast of Thousands!” And, everyone who finishes the novel gets a cookie.
The collective committee point of view is a really entertaining aspect of this novel. Did you have other “we” points of view in mind as models when you worked on the voice? And what were some of the rules you developed as you wrote in order to maintain the illusion of the “we?”
Let’s call the committee an exasperating hoot. A couple pieces from way back have always stuck with me in terms of a collective POV; June Spence’s “Missing Women,” and The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, and then more recently, Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea. Getting this collective voice right was a fun, tangled web. I had to think of the individuals contributing to the collective voice, and be vigilant in allowing the committee the temerity to construct their sense of omniscience despite the reality of first person plural. And I slipped in the committee’s long history to remind myself that they’ve been telling town stories for a long time. They have this down.
It strikes me that the committee might be a way for you to comment on morality. Could you say a bit about the responsibility that you think the author has to be moral in his or her fiction? Is the committee a moral entity or a perversion of morality?
I don’t know why, but your question made me think of Harper Valley PTA and Barbara Eden, which isn’t quite the non-sequitur it seems. I see this novel as an often comic comment on how we belong to different brands of morality, and in doing so, we also assume troubling brands of supremacy and hypocrisy.
The committee presumes to create a debate on what their citizens should do with their bodies in the most “moral” way. But I’m not a moralist writer and am not interested such fiction. A close reader of this novel will likely be surprised by its basic proposal. Own yourself when you’re mature enough, and when things take a bad turn, talk to those who love you if you can. And if that isn’t possible, run to where it is. We’re waiting for you with open arms.
Let’s talk a bit more about what people should or should not do with their bodies, according to the Committee. Alongside the Ivy and Dogg plot-line, we have a consideration of what it means to be “out” in a small town like Mudlick. Having grown up in small town myself, there is a line I found particularly powerful: “I’m thinking now that shame is something that starts on the outside.” Can you talk a little bit about why it was important for you to explore this issue?
The committee imagines a homogenous community or is perhaps aspirational in that direction. My rural hometown in San Diego county was a bit like this. I was a queer, half-Chinese kid, felt invisible, and there was no way I could be out. It wasn’t until my ten year high school reunion that I learned there were a bunch of queer kids back then. Perhaps as an act of revenge against my past, in this novel I wanted for my queer characters to have both angst and agency.
You found number of inventive ways to explore the issue of abortion in the novel, one of which comes in the form of a drama that unfolds around a rather bizarre topiary.
I don’t think the novel explores abortion. There’s not a single medical scene. No pregnancy is terminated. But, as you’ve observed, there’s something about topiary here and our habit of anthropomorphizing. Why are ships “she?” Why do we name our cars and cry when we have to move on?
There’s a great topiary park in Columbus, Ohio, inventively called The Topiary Park, and in it they are recreating Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte. I’m fascinated by this simulacrum of a simulacrum. We can’t anthropomorphize those topiaries because they are modeled after paintings. But, a little girl on lawn made of green-leafed vines and modeled after a real girl might very well convince us that we are Pinocchio’s Blue Fairy. She lives and thinks and is “real” because we say so. Apparently, it doesn’t matter what the gardener thinks.
I sense you’re being a bit coy here. But let’s explore. I love the idea that we have Ivy, who is, of course, not real because she’s a fictional character. And then we have a simulacrum of Ivy, the topiary. So, in a sense, we have exactly what you were saying about the topiary in Columbus, Ohio: a simulacrum of a simulacrum. If these are the simulacra, then what is the original? What do these things copy? What is it you mean to represent?
The novel aims toward, in serious, comical, and satirical ways, a conversation about how society imagines the correct subject position for a person, compares that against the simulacrum of the supposed ideal of what a “correct” person is, with the purpose of arriving at the fantasy version of correctness. In the novel, the committee has a received and built vision of gender propriety. They value the young people performing the simulacrum of this vision. The committee and community (mostly) is so glazed by generations of this kind of thinking, that it’s nothing to ask a plant that looks like a young girl to be a spokesperson for everything they value. Golden calves are comforting and addictive. That was the discovery for me in this book.
And finally, could you tell us a bit about what you are working on now?
Oh? Who is us? That’s a bit scary (checks flower arrangement for mic). Right now, I have a novel manuscript out and about that I’ll stay mum. It has a water-filled quarry and a gay kid who knows how to keep a secret. But in terms of looking ahead, there’s so much. I’m really excited about a collection I’m putting together which is a novella and short fiction. I’ve received a Center for Artistic Endeavors Fellowship for fall, 2018, which supports time for this project. The collection will represent every crazy, dark, and literary mode I’ve taken on to this point.And after that, research in Finland for a follow up to my novel, Take Me Home. My readers told me I was too hard on the gay character in that book, so I’m going to give him his turn, albeit pre 1885. Still, he may wander off into the high desert in Wyoming. We’ll see.
Call for Submissions: Ice-Themed Writing, Art & Music
Artists, writers, scientists, travelers, and musicians are invited to submit work that explores ice-related themes to the new art project Black Coffee & Vinyl Presents. We are seeking work that features the physical and spiritual beauty of our world’s ice, explores the life of the people and cultures that are connected to the ice from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica, and addresses important political issues related to ice.
As climate change affects the weather and composition of our planet, our ice is melting. Black Coffee & Vinyl Presents wants to address the importance of ice; focus on its beauty; and learn from the people who study, live near, and love it.
For literature, please submit only works in English. For other work (visual art or music), please submit an English translation. Artists with selected work will be provided with a $50 (U.S.) honorarium.
“It’s one thing to discuss your family’s trauma with other family,” writes Michelle Tea. “It’s another thing entirely to release their stories to a world that doesn’t love them.” She’s writing about the HAGS, a San Francisco group of lesbian punks active in the 1990s, but the sentiment could easily apply to many of the essays in Against Memoir, a new collection of Tea’s writings from Feminist Press.
The pieces brought together in Against Memoir navigate the difficult balance of the personal and the communal, and the dynamics of discussing fraught issues within a community (especially queer communities), versus discussing those same issues with those outside of that community. The breadth of topics covered in this volume is impressive—no doubt there is something here for everyone. Tea writes as insightfully and incisively about pop art as she does about punk music and pigeons.
Some of the strongest, most moving pieces examine struggles within queer and feminist communities or the complicated legacy of problematic cultural icons through the lens of Tea’s own experience. In “Transmissions from Camp Trans,” Tea examines the protests that arose in response to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival’s trans-exclusionary politics. In another essay, Tea revisits the importance that The SCUM Manifesto’s feminism, humor, and rage held for her as a young woman, while pushing back on the strict gender binarism of some second wave feminist thought and Solanas’ transphobia. In a piece on the film Times Square (1980) and coming of (queer) age in the 1990s, Tea writes eloquently about the damage gentrification has wrought on cities and queer life, as well as the lessons she gleaned from so many films of that era: “To love damage was a path to loving yourself. [….] [Q]ueers do not come out of the minefield of homophobia without scars.”
The essays in Against Memoir paint a particular portrait of queer culture, especially in the 1990s, recording both pain and joy, vulnerability and resistance. One of the greatest examples of this is in “HAGS in Your Face,” Tea’s history of the San Francisco HAGS. The essay works against the ways in which the HAGS have already been forgotten and erased: “there is no recorded history of this subculture and the copious amounts of culture it produced: politics, fashion, art, sex. But like that other decade of revolution, the dyke nineties of San Francisco began joyful, dark idealism that obscured the coming crash.” “HAGS in Your Face,” like so much of Against Memoir, resists that forgetting and erasure, keeping the memory of queer culture alive for those who might have no other way of experiencing it, who might never have known it otherwise.
Throughout the collection, Tea grapples with the role of art and writing, especially in the era of Trump. What good is writing? she often asks herself. In “The City to a Young Girl,” she offers an answer, writing that “the purpose and point of our political writings, our personal struggles” is:
not to change the world that can’t or won’t be changed. It’s to leave traces of ourselves for others to hold onto, a lifeline of solidarity that spans time, that passes on strength like a baton from person to person, generation to generation. [….] Our words and stories are so often buried, forgotten, never-known, and the excavation of them may not change the world but it may make the world worth living in.
Against Memoir is a celebration of queer life, love, art, politics, history, pain, and joy. Tea’s writing continues to make the world worth living in.
Set in the late 1990s in the Bay Area, Hilary Zaid’s debut novel, Paper Is White, follows Ellen Margolis, assistant curator at the Foundation for the Preservation of Memory, as she navigates the choppy waters of history, kicked up by two very intense and very important personal involvements. The novel opens with an Indian tale in the place of an epigraph, about a woman who knows a story and a song, but refuses to give voice to either. The story and song tire of never being let out, and so betray the woman by shifting shape into men’s shoes and coat, thus provoking her husband’s anger at her unfaithfulness. It’s an apt metaphor for Paper Is White, a book that seeks to give voice to the stories that some would prefer remain unspoken.
Ellen is one of those people for whom ghosts are as real as the living—she is haunted by her late grandmother, and by her past relationships, even by attractions she only lives out in her head—the boundaries between past and present are as flimsy as air for her. The novel twines two stories together: opening the night Ellen and her fiancée, Francine, announce their engagement to Ellen’s best friend, which just so happens to be the night Ellen receives a mysterious phone call from one of the Foundation’s clients, Anya, a cunning and secretive Holocaust survivor with an unusual story to tell. Getting her to tell it, though, proves daunting.
Rules are made to be broken in Paper Is White, and Ellen, who should maintain a professional boundary with Anya, decides instead to follow a long, twisting path into territory where few have ventured. Despite knowing better, Ellen keeps her involvement with Anya a secret, fearing the repercussions from her boss and from Francine. She also, throughout most of the book, keeps her engagement to Francine under wraps, revealing it only when necessary, and often meeting with confusion or negativity, even from those she loves. This is, after all, the decade of DOMA, well before gay marriage had legal clout anywhere in the US. Not to spoil the ending, but once arrived, all the fear, all the worry, has been for naught. Ellen gets her happy ending, as happy as any can be when faced with the reality of a brutal world.
Francine, as the counterfoil to Ellen’s restlessness and seeking, is placid, observant, a model of patience. She’s the rock to Ellen’s water, never wavering. Even when her mother, Betty, up and disappears halfway through the book, Francine holds it together. Ellen, on the other hand, nearly falls apart. The other characters in the book—and there are many—bring levity, philosophy, clues, intrigue, and mystery. There’s a lot going on in Paper Is White, and the multiplicity of voices adds much to the narrative.
Zaid’s book is brave, and original, and does a wonderful job of bringing the 1990s to life. Paper Is White is compelling, and if the characters are occasionally too reticent, there’s a sense that this attitude is integral to the telling of this story. Forgotten histories—whether they are willfully forgotten, repressed, or silenced due to trauma—are subject to much scrutiny here, and who can blame the cast for wanting to hide? Even the bravest among us might turn away from this type of exposure. Betty, before she leaves, poses this to Ellen: “’Do you really think it’s possible…for people to tell the truth about their lives?’” Ellen is shocked by the question, especially given her line of work, but she’s perhaps more vulnerable to the follow up: “’Not to you, dear… To themselves.’” This question might be the driving force of Paper Is White. Ellen’s relentless pursuit of the truth keeps the novel’s pages turning, keeps the reader wondering what else remains in the depths. In the end, Zaid offers a number of insights on what we give words to, and what we consign to the silence of history, making this a memorable (pun fully intended) read.
Paper is White
By Hilary Zaid
Paperback, 9781612941134, 312 pp.
my heart is a light
the color of meat
pulled clean off the bone
the boat of my chest
rises and falls in a sea
of never chill
when the good goes bad
my hands become
sixth grade hands again
sweaty wet lightning hands
that drop and shock every
piece of love I dig up
outside of Victoria’s Secret
I feel a garden grow
in my front hole
mud howard is a non-binary trans poet from the states. mud is co-editor of the blackout queer zine project pnk prl. they write about queer intimacy, interior worlds and the cosmic joke of the gender binary. their work has been published in THEM journal, The Lifted Brow and Cleaver Magazine, for which their poem was selected for The Best of the Net 2017. you can find more of their work at www.mudhoward.com.
Dana Mele’s first novel, People Like Us, begins at midnight on Halloween. A group of laughing teenage girls peel off their clothes and streak through the woods to a nearby lake for their annual midnight swim. On this particular New England evening the water is chilly, but when one of the swimmers bumps into a dead body floating in the lake, it turns ice cold.
Set in Bates College, an all-girls boarding school nestled in the woods of New England, Mele’s novel smartly mixes mystery with a coming-of-age story that hits all the uncomfortable buttons. Protagonist Kay Donavon is in her graduating year and has struggled from a working-class background and a personally tormented past to climb to the exulted level of “it” girl, the fear-inspiring top clique at Bates. The girls in this inner circle are poised for graduation, scholarships, careers, and the lives they’ve dreamed of. Like mortals gazing up at the gods on Mount Olympus, the other Bates College girls look at Donavon and her crew with envy—and often, with much darker feelings than that.
After the dead body is discovered, the top girls fall and fall hard, one by one, as past transgressions are revealed in a brilliant, from-beyond-the-grave twist.
As in John Knowles’ 1959 novel A Separate Peace, the boarding school has long been a literary site of youthful longing and menace, as well as a closed world with a defined cast of characters, perfectly suited to murder and its investigation. Mele takes this familiar setting and modernizes it; dark forces claw at these untouchable girls via hacked computer accounts, cruel blog posts, and hidden electronic devices. The story is unabashedly set in the present day, giving the issues addressed an additional shot of realism. Mele captures the raw emotions of teenage years—today’s especially—where joy and despair hinge on social acceptance.
Told from Kay Donavon’s viewpoint as a first person narration, the reader is plunged into the action and, once the body is discovered, the pace moves quickly and rarely lets up. Donavon is a believably complex character whose role of hero often slides into the realm of anti-hero as the sheen of her perfection, and that of her friends, wears thin. Through Donavon’s actions and the trauma they instill in herself and others, Mele’s brilliant first novel provides an astute reminder that no one is an angel. Not even the most popular girls at Bates College.
People Like Us
By Dana Mele
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 9781524741709, 384 pp.
In the first ten pages of Nicola Griffith’s latest novel, thirty-something narrator Mara Tagarelli’s wife of fourteen years announces the end of their marriage, Mara starts a new relationship with an old friend, and she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The rapidity of this chain of events provides a clue to the pace of the novel. In the time span of a year Mara goes from her high profile job as executive director of the Georgia AIDS Project to being the founder and administrator of a 501(c)(3) organization called Cripples Action Team (CAT) with a social media list of 28,000 members. If this career trajectory seems farfetched, it may be because the plot, while requiring a certain suspension of disbelief, seems almost secondary in this clear-eyed call to “break the narrative” of helplessness and dependency imposed on those who are rendered “other” in this ableist culture.
Upon sharing her diagnosis with the Chair of the Board of her Georgia AIDS Project, Mara registers her new position: “I was now on the other side of the divide, no longer one of Us but one of Them.” Days later she is asked to resign. Yet Mara refuses to be a victim. She navigates the world of condescension, pity and self-help platitudes with an angry defiance that challenges expectation and sometimes worries and alienates those close to her.
MS is personified from the first words of the book (“It came for me in November”) and becomes transmuted to a “grinning monster,” a figure with which Mara grapples in the final pages of the novel. This image emerges from Mara’s meeting in a MS support group with ninety-one-year-old Junie who is accompanied by a yappy yellow pug that, as Mara later learns, only she and its owner can see. After illustrating that her dog represents MS, Junie addresses Mara: “Yours, now. Yours ain’t a small dog…. Never seen anything like your great grinning thing.” The older woman’s follow up, “You’re scared? You should be. It’s aiming to kill you. And I doubt you’ll stop it,” drives Mara from the room and stays with her for the rest of the novel.
Besides the woman and the dog, another recurring trope Griffith employs draws on Mara’s two-year-old sister’s pastime of digging up worms in the family garden. Mara recalls:
When she didn’t squish them by mistake she’d drop them in one of those miniature plastic buckets and croon to herself while they hauled their way up the smooth sides to freedom, fighting for every quarter inch. When they got to the top she’d flick them to the bottom again. They kept trying. Over and over. When she got bored she ate them.
A more optimistic emblem occurs when Mara’s ex-wife Rose reads Mara’s cards and produces Osiris as the card representing her current attitude, influences and future. Though Osiris is nominally the king and judge of the dead, Rose explains that the card often signifies “unexpected change. It can mean loss, too. But it’s more about transformation. It’s a very strong metaphor.” This Tarot reading points to the shifts in Mara’s attitude that the novel traces. She used to scoff at Tarot reading; now Mara urges Rose to stay engaged with the practice. In another context, when Mara is initially diagnosed and informed of the MS Society’s yoga class, the former martial artist responds, “Yoga. Chanting and crystals and goodwill to all men. I’d rather hit things.” Yet when she attends the class a year later, she reflects, “I felt good in a way I hadn’t experienced since that night when I reached for the milk and fell down” (the episode resulting in her diagnosis).
An unusual plot twist involving serial killers and a string of hate crimes enables Griffith to explore again the grey area between the real and imagined. Afraid that she will be the next victim, Mara buys a gun and says to herself, “I think I’m being hunted. Or haunted. But I don’t believe any of that. Belief is not data. It’s not real.” Again self-doubt and actuality inform one another in this probing novel that provides no easy answers.
The world of Nicola Griffith’s So Lucky is governed by ableist misconception and ignorance, but also marked by hope and human connection. Magic realism is freely employed and crisp, clear language evokes the natural surroundings of the Atlanta in which Mara Tagarelli moves. Miz Rip, the kitten chosen because she fights, is a compelling addition. It’s a narrative that at once informs, confronts, puzzles and engages. I have little doubt that readers who take it up will be rewarded.
By Nicola Griffith
MCD x FSG Originals
Paperback, 9780374265922, 192 pp.
Lambda Literary, the nation’s leading national nonprofit organization promoting LGBTQ literature, is pleased to announce that Melissa Febos has been named winner of the inaugural Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction.
Lambda Literary’s Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction, in memory of the beloved activist and author, honors lesbian/queer-identified women and trans/gender non-conforming nonfiction authors. The award goes to a writer committed to nonfiction work that captures the depth and complexity of lesbian/queer life, culture and/or history.
Judges Lynn Harris Ballen, Judith Branzburg and Claudia Rodriguez were unanimous in choosing Melissa Febos as the winner for this prize from among a large group of wonderfully talented lesbian/queer non-fiction writers who submitted their work.
From the judges: “The fearless intimacy of Febos’ past writing captures depth and complexity through a lesbian/queer lens. The raw and lyrical work in her upcoming collection of essays Girlhood–about coming of age queer and female in America–illustrates that she continues to be committed to producing groundbreaking lesbian/queer nonfiction.”
The award includes a cash prize of $2500. Febos will be recognized as the winner of the Córdova Prize at the 30th Annual Lambda Literary Awards ceremony on June 4th in New York City.
Tickets to the awards gala can be purchased at Lambda’s website.
Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017), which is a Lambda Literary Award finalist, a Publishing Triangle Award finalist, an Indie Next Pick, and was named a Best Book of 2017 by Esquire, Book Riot, The Cut, Electric Literature, Bustle, Medium, Refinery29, The Brooklyn Rail, Salon, The Rumpus, and others. Her second essay collection, Girlhood (Bloomsbury), will be published in 2019. Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Tin House, Granta, The Believer, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Lenny Letter, The Guardian, Elle, Vogue, and elsewhere, and she is the recipient of prizes and fellowships from Prairie Schooner,Story Quarterly, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Ragdale, The BAU Institute, and The MacDowell Colony. An Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Monmouth University, she serves on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and lives in Brooklyn.