Announcing the 32nd Annual Lambda Literary Award Winners

Lambda Literary is proud to announce the winners of the 32nd Annual Lambda Literary Awards (a.k.a. the “Lammys”).

With twenty-six winning books across in twenty-four categories, the Lammys continue their storied tradition of celebrating not only the best in LGBTQ literature, but in honoring work that represents the depth and breadth of the queer experience.

The winners below were selected by a panel of over 60 literary professionals from more than 1,000 book submissions from over 300 publishers.

While the Lammys are indeed something to celebrate, this is also a time of outrage and grief caused by the pandemic and state-sanctioned violence against Black people. At Lambda Literary, we believe that LGBTQ literature inspires the radical imagination needed to dismantle white supremacy and build a more equitable world.

We are grateful to this year’s winners, whose work reflects a vast range of queer creativity, and we hope you can draw strength and insight from the writers honored today. Please join us in celebrating all the winners and their outstanding achievements.

Lesbian Fiction
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn (Liveright Publishing)
From the publisher:
A beautifully layered portrait of motherhood, immigration, and the sacrifices we make in the name of love from award-winning novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn.
Read our review –

Gay Fiction
Lot by Bryan Washington (Riverhead Books)
From the publisher:
In the city of Houston – a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America – the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, weathering his brother’s blows, resenting his older sister’s absence.
And discovering he likes boys.
Read our review –
            Read our Interview –

Bisexual Fiction
Exquisite Mariposa by Fiona Alison Duncan (Soft Skull Press)
From the publisher:
Given the initials F.A.D. at birth, Fiona Alison Duncan has always had an eye for observing the trends around her. But after years of looking for answers in books and astrological charts and working as a celebrity journalist to make rent, Fiona discovers another way of existing: in the Real, a phenomenological state few humans live in.

Transgender Fiction
Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante (Metonymy Press)
From the publisher:
The playful and poignant novel Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian) sifts through a queer trans woman’s unrequited love for her straight trans friend who died. A queer love letter steeped in desire, grief, and delight, the story is interspersed with encyclopedia entries about a fictional TV show set on an isolated island. The experimental form functions at once as a manual for how pop culture can help soothe and mend us and as an exploration of oft-overlooked sources of pleasure, including karaoke, birding, and butt toys.
Read our interview –

Bisexual Nonfiction
Socialist Realism by Trisha Low (Coffee House Press)
From the publisher:
When Trisha Low moves West, her journey is motivated by the need to arrive “somewhere better” – someplace utopian, like revolution; or safe, like home; or even clarifying, like identity. Instead, she faces the end of her relationships, a family whose values she has difficulty sharing, and America’s casual racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Transgender Nonfiction
We Both Laughed in Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan by Ellis Martin and Zach Ozma (Nightboat Books)
From the publisher:
We Both Laughed In Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan narrates the inner life of a gay trans man moving through the shifting social, political, and medical mores of the second half of the 20th century. Sullivan kept comprehensive journals from age eleven until his AIDS-related death at thirty-nine. Sensual, lascivious, challenging, quotidian and poetic, the diaries complicate and disrupt normative trans narratives. Entries from twenty-four diaries reveal Sullivan’s self-articulation and the complexity of a fascinating and courageous figure.

LGBTQ Nonfiction
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)
From the publisher:
In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado’s engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming.
Read our review –

Lesbian Poetry
& more black by t’ai freedom ford (Augury Books)
From the publisher:
t’ai freedom ford’s second collection of poems, & more black, is direct, ingenious, vibrant, alive, queer, & BLACK. By turns tough and sexy, wrapped up in the evolving language and sonics of life, these poems take their cue from Wanda Coleman’s American Sonnets as they rhapsodize and dialogue with artists such as Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligon, and Wangechi Mutu, along with many other musicians, artists, and writers. The kinetic energy of ford’s words leap off the page in rebellious, stunning, and revelatory fashion – poems that mesmerize with sheer velocity and telling pauses.

Gay Poetry
SLINGSHOT by Cyrée Jarelle Johnson (Nightboat Books)
From the publisher:
SLINGSHOT begins with the author ensconced in the menacing isolation of the pastoral, but once the work migrates to the City, monstrum grows form and fangs. In these messy, horny, desperate poems spun from dream logic, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson considers the consequences of black sexual and gender deviance, as well as the emotional burden of being forced to the rim of society, then punished for what keeps you alive.
Read our review –

Bisexual Poetry
Pet Sounds by Stephanie Young (Nightboat Books)
From the publisher:
Pet Sounds is at once a book of confessional economics, music criticism disguised as poetry, and a complicated coming out story. Working from the sticky interface of property and sex and written under the shadow of urban development, these poems take up the question of passing and everything that gets lost in narrow definitions of family and romantic love. Pet Sounds pulses with the pleasures and grief of what it means to make a home inside structures that don’t fit.
            Read our review –

Transgender Poetry
HULL by Xandria Phillips (Nightboat Books)
From the publisher:
In this debut collection by African American poet Xandria Phillips, HULL explores emotional impacts of colonialism and racism on the Black queer body and the present-day emotional impacts of enslavement in urban, rural, and international settings. HULL is lyrical, layered, history-ridden, experimental, textured, adorned, ecstatic, and emotionally investigative.
Read our interview –

Lesbian Mystery
Galileo by Ann McMan (Bywater Books)
From the publisher:
Two years have passed since the unsavory events in Dust. Evan Reed is still cranky, but she’s also dealing with the nagging effects of a gunshot wound. Her teenage daughter, Stevie has a new discovery to share, and Stevie’s father, Dan, has married a woman half his age. Evan’s childhood pal, Father Tim, has started questioning his faith, and Evan’s relationship with publishing magnate, Julia Donne has all the earmarks of heading somewhere special.

Gay Mystery
Carved in Bone: A Henry Rios Novel by Michael Nava (Persigo Press)
From the publisher:
November, 1984. Criminal defense lawyer Henry Rios, fresh out of rehab and picking up the pieces of his life, reluctantly accepts work as an insurance claims investigator and is immediately is assigned to investigate the apparently accidental death of Bill Ryan. Ryan, part of the great gay migration into San Francisco in the 1970s, has died in his flat of carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty gas line, his young lover barely surviving. Rios’s investigation into Ryan’s death-which Rios becomes convinced was no accident-tracks Ryan’s life from his arrival in San Francisco as a terrified 18-year-old to his transformation into a successful businessman. What begins for Rios as the search for the truth about Bill Ryan’s death becomes the search for the meaning of Ryan’s life as the tsunami of AIDS bears down on the gay community.
Read our review –

Lesbian Memoir/Biography
We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib (Viking Canada)
From the publisher:
Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger.
When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space in which to grow and nurture her creative, feminist spirit became dire. The men in her life wanted to police her, the women in her life had only shown her the example of pious obedience, and her body was a problem to be solved.
Read our review –

Gay Memoir/Biography
How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones (Simon & Schuster)
From the publisher:
Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.
Read our review –

Lesbian Romance
Aurora’s Angel: A Dark Fantasy Romance by Emily Noon (Bluefire Books)
From the publisher:
A broken-winged angel trying to get home. Her escort a nocturnal huntress with a bloody past. It will be a dangerous journey – monsters are everywhere and the truly dangerous ones hide in plain sight.

Gay Romance
Joseph Chapman: My Molly Life by James Lovejoy (Self-published)
From the publisher:
Joseph Chapman is a young denizen of late 18th century London, who must contend not only with being orphaned and consigned to an execrable charity school, but also with the sense he is different in important ways from other boys. At the Little Eastcheap Free School for Unfortunate Boys, Joe encounters the predatory headmaster, Mr. Peevers, and a boy, Chowder, who becomes the one person he can trust. When they are separated for their apprenticeships, Joe does well. He becomes apprenticed to a prominent progressive bookseller, but Chowder must contend with the drunken greengrocer Tobias Cudworth and his wife, Dulcibella. With some help from his bookseller, Joe reconnects with Chowder, intending to resume their relationship. Chowder is eager to do the same, but due to treachery, Joe and Chowder soon find themselves in Newgate Prison, facing trial for the capital offense of sodomy.

LGBTQ Anthology
Love WITH Accountability: Digging up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse by Aishah Shahidah Simmons (AK Press)
From the publisher:
Despite the current survivor-affirming awareness around sexual violence, child sexual abuse, most notably when it’s a family member or friend, is still a very taboo topic. There are approximately 42 million child sexual abuse survivors in the U.S. and millions of bystanders who look the other way as the abuse occurs and cover for the harm-doers with no accountability. Documentary filmmaker and survivor of child sexual abuse and adult rape, Aishah Shahidah Simmons invites diasporic Black people to join her in transformative storytelling that envisions a world that ends child sexual abuse without relying on the criminal justice system. Love WITH Accountability features compelling writings by child sexual abuse survivors, advocates, and Simmons’s mother, who underscores the detrimental impact of parents/caregivers not believing their children when they disclose their sexual abuse. This collection explores disrupting the inhumane epidemic of child sexual abuse, humanely.

A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts from the First Century to 1969 by Noam Sienna (Print-O-Craft)
From the publisher:
Spanning almost two millennia and containing translations from more than a dozen languages, Noam Sienna’s new book, A Rainbow Thread: An Anthology of Queer Jewish Texts From the First Century to 1969, collects for the first time more than a hundred sources on the intersection of Jewish and queer identities.

LGBTQ Children’s/Middle Grade/Young Adult
Children’s/Middle Grade:
Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (HarperCollins)
From the publisher:
Hazel knows a lot about the world. That’s because when she’s not hanging with her best friend, taking care of her dog, or helping care for the goats on her family’s farm, she loves reading through dusty encyclopedias.
But even Hazel doesn’t have answers for the questions awaiting her as she enters eighth grade. What if no one at her new school gets her, and she doesn’t make any friends? What’s going to happen to one of her moms, who’s pregnant again after having two miscarriages? Why does everything have to change when life was already perfectly fine?

Young Adult:
The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)
From the publisher:
Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American, learning what Americans and the US are like from television and Mrs. Rosen, an elderly expat who had employed Marisol’s mother as a maid. When she pictured an American life for herself, she dreamed of a life like Aimee and Amber’s, the title characters of her favorite American TV show. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as “an illegal”, but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi’s, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, Pablo might still be alive, her mother wouldn’t be in hiding and she and Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.

LGBTQ Comics
Cannonball by Kelsey Wroten (Uncivilized Books)
From the publisher:
Kelsey Wroten’s Cannonball fires the reader straight into the messy life of Caroline Bertram: aspiring writer, queer, art school graduate, near alcoholic, and self proclaimed tortured genius. Wroten tells the story of an artist struggling with the arrival of adulthood and the Sisyphean task of artistic fulfillment. Stunningly drawn in a classic style, with big truths and biting wit, Wroten’s debut graphic novel is Art School Confidential for the Tumblr generation.
Read our review –

A Strange Loop by Michael R. Jackson (Produced by Playwrights Horizons and Page 73)
From the producer:
Usher is a black, queer writer, working a day job he hates while writing his original musical: a piece about a black, queer writer, working a day job he hates while writing his original musical. Michael R. Jackson’s blistering, momentous new musical follows a young artist at war with a host of demons—not least of which, the punishing thoughts in his own head—in an attempt to capture and understand his own strange loop.
Read about the play –

LGBTQ Erotica
Whore Foods by LA Warman (Inpatient Press)
From the publisher:
Collecting and expanding pieces from her seminal newsletter detailing the inner and outer sexual life of a grocery store cashier, LA Warman’s Whore Foods is a guaranteed feast for sore thighs. Now available in raw pulp paperback form for the first time. Cleanup in Aisle 4.

LGBTQ Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror
The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes (Gallery/Saga Press)
From the publisher:
The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award-nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’s rap group clipping.

LGBTQ Studies
All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence by Emily L. Thuma (University of Illinois Press)
From the publisher:
During the 1970s, grassroots women activists in and outside of prisons forged a radical politics against gender violence and incarceration. Emily L. Thuma traces the making of this anticarceral feminism at the intersections of struggles for racial and economic justice, prisoners’ and psychiatric patients’ rights, and gender and sexual liberation.

Ⓒ 2020 Lambda Literary. All Rights Reserved.

Courtesy of Lambda Literary

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