Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced

The 26th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists were announced today. A record 746 books were submitted this year, which is extraordinary, and once again there were enough submissions to warrant separate Transgender Fiction and Transgender Nonfiction categories. You can check out the complete list of finalists over at the Lambda Literary website, but here are our collective highlights . . .

Nevada by Imogen Binnie
Nevada is the darkly comedic story of Maria Griffiths, a young trans woman living in New York City and trying to stay true to her punk values while working retail. When she finds out her girlfriend has lied to her, the world she thought she’d carefully built for herself begins to unravel, and Maria sets out on a journey that will most certainly change her forever.

Tiresias by Devon Llywelyn Jones
Two stories woven and unraveled together: a young transgender student named Quinn helps his girlfriend escape from a violent home, while almost one hundred years prior, T. S. Eliot's life is given a fictional retelling. Discovering for himself how abuse survivors can mirror their abusers' behavior, Quinn finds himself mired in the continuing cycle over the course of two and a half years. A speculative romantic awakening for Eliot in Paris is derailed into his historically miserable first marriage. As four figures struggle with sexuality, destructive incompatibility, and the uncertain territory of trans-inclusive gender politics, the question becomes whether Quinn is trapped not only in one relationship, but also in a biography that is not his own. . . and a biography he himself has written.

Wanting in Arabic by Trish Salah
Poetry. Braiding theoretic concerns with the ambivalences of sexed and raced identity.WANTING IN ARABIC attempts to traverse the fantasies of foundational loss and aggressive nostalgia in order to further a poetics of a conscious partiality of being, of generous struggle and comic rather than tragic misrecognition. "Trish Salah's poetic sequence is not simply a narrative of gender change; it's a wandering, thoughtful text, one both fierce and tremulous"--Erin Moure. "This is a beautiful and disturbing collection of poems, writing from the uncharted langscape of the third sex"--Mary Di Michele.

Blood, Marriage, Wine & Glitter by S. Bear Bergman
S. Bear Bergman is an acclaimed writer and lecturer on trans issues. In hir third essay collection, Bear tackles the concept of the "modern family" as the trans parent of a young son; in Bear's extended family "orchard," drag sisters, sperm-donor parents, and other relations provide more branches of love and support than a mere family tree. Defiantly queer yet full of tenderness and hilarity, Bear's book redefines the notion of what family is and can be.

The End of San Francisco by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
The End of San Francisco breaks apart the conventions of memoir to reveal the passions and perils of a life that refuses to conform to the rules of straight or gay normalcy. A budding queer activist escapes to San Francisco, in search of a world more politically charged, sexually saturated, and ethically consistent—this is the person who evolves into Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, infamous radical queer troublemaker, organizer and agitator, community builder, and anti-assimilationist commentator. Here is the tender, provocative, and exuberant story of the formation of one of the contemporary queer movement's most savvy and outrageous writers and spokespersons.

Using an unrestrained associative style to move kaleidoscopically between past, present, and future, Sycamore conjures the untidy push and pull of memory, exposing the tensions between idealism and critical engagement, trauma and self-actualization, inspiration and loss. Part memoir, part social history, and part elegy, The End of San Francisco explores and explodes the dream of a radical queer community and the mythical city that was supposed to nurture it.

Testo Junkie by Beatriz Preciado
Beatriz Preciado administers testosterone everyday for a year without medical supervision. During the experiment, she analyzes gender and brings the history of sexuality up to date. With the precision of Foucault and Butler, she traces the role of the pharmaceutical and pornography industries in defining how we express our sexualities, and shows how technologies of gender inform everyday life.

Collaborators by Deborah Wheeler
When a crippled Terran spaceship makes landfall on an alien world. The Terrans land, unaware that their advanced technology threatens the fragile balance of power for the native race. Aliens, for whom gender has a very different meaning and whose instincts can drive a crowd to madness.

Despite the Terrans best intentions, misunderstandings mount and violent retaliation escalates. Soon everyone — scientists and soldiers, rebels and lovers, patriots and opportunists — are swept up in a cycle of destruction.

A cycle of destruction follows. Ultimately, the people on each side who have suffered the deepest losses must forge a path to reconciliation before it's too late. Salvation comes, but at a price.

The Stars Change by Mary Anne Mohanraj
On the brink of interstellar war, life (and sex) continues. Humans, aliens, and modified humans gather at the University of All Worlds in search of knowledge... and self-knowledge... but the first bomb has fallen and the fate of this multicultural, multispecies mecca is in question. A thought-provoking work on sexuality and the connections between people--whether male or female, human or alien--The Stars Change is part space opera, part literary mosaic of story, poem, and art.

The Stars Change: an erotic science fiction novel-in-stories. On a South Asian-settled university planet, tensions are rising, and as they reach the brink of interstellar war, life (and sex) continues. Humans, aliens, and modified humans gather at the University of All Worlds in search of knowledge... and self-knowledge... but the first bomb has fallen and the fate of this multicultural, multispecies mecca is in question. Some people will seek solace in physical contact, some will look for spiritual answers, while others will find their strength in community, family, and love. Some will rush home to make love to their wife. Or wives. Or husbands. Or indeterminate gender human and/or alien partners. Others will be forced to decide where they stand -- what is worth fighting for, or maybe even worth dying for.

In The Stars Change, author Mary Anne Mohanraj presents a multi-layered, thought-provoking, and far-reaching work on sexuality and the connections between people--whether male or female, human or alien. The Stars Change is part space opera, part literary mosaic of story, poem, and art.

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin
Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he’s the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He’s even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max’s mother, is determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years, but now that the boys are getting older, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband Steve has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.

The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won’t his parents talk about it? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he’s starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him—desire him—once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really?

Written by twenty-six-year-old rising star Abigail Tarttelin, Golden Boy is a novel you’ll read in one sitting but will never forget; at once a riveting tale of a family in crisis, a fascinating exploration of identity, and a coming-of-age story like no other.

In Between by Jane Hoppen
Never have there been only two genders—male and female. A third gender, denied by society and hidden by the medical community, has always existed, and that is what Sophie Schmidt discovers when, at the age of fourteen, she learns the truth of how she was born. Sophie then embarks on a journey to learn more about her true self and to find others born like her. When Sophie moves to New York City, she enters the world of gays and lesbians, as well as those who are transgender and transsexual. Searching for her own place in society, her journey leads her to Alice Parker, and Sophie takes the final steps to accept herself enough to allow another to love her.

Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics by T.C. Tolbert and Tim Trace Peterson
The first of its kind, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, gathers together a diverse range of 55 poets with varying aesthetics and backgrounds. In addition to generous samples of poetry by each trans writer, the book also includes "poetics statements"—reflections by each poet that provide context for their work covering a range of issues from identification and embodiment to language and activism.

Poets include Samuel Ace, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Micha Cardenas, kari edwards, Duriel Harris, Joy Ladin, Dawn Lundy Martin, Eileen Myles, Trish Salah, Max Wolf Valerio, John Wieners, Kit Yan, and more.

Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran by Afsaneh Najmabadi
Since the mid-1980s, the Islamic Republic of Iran has permitted and partially subsidized sex reassignment surgery. In Professing Selves, Afsaneh Najmabadi explores the meaning of transsexuality in contemporary Iran. Combining historical and ethnographic research, she describes how, in the postrevolutionary era, the domains of law, psychology and psychiatry, Islamic jurisprudence, and biomedicine became invested in distinguishing between the acceptable "true" transsexual and other categories of identification, notably the "true" homosexual, an unacceptable category of existence in Iran. Najmabadi argues that this collaboration among medical authorities, specialized clerics, and state officials—which made transsexuality a legally tolerated, if not exactly celebrated, category of being—grew out of Iran's particular experience of Islamicized modernity. Paradoxically, state regulation has produced new spaces for non-normative living in Iran, since determining who is genuinely "trans" depends largely on the stories that people choose to tell, on the selves that they profess.

Shanghai Lalas by Lucetta Yip Lo Kam
This is the first ethnographic study of lala (lesbian, bisexual, and transgender) communities and politics in China, focusing on the city of Shanghai. Based on several years of in-depth interviews, the volume concentrates on lalas' everyday struggle to reconcile same-sex desire with a dominant rhetoric of family harmony and compulsory marriage, all within a culture denying women’s active and legitimate sexual agency. Lucetta Yip Lo Kam reads discourses on homophobia in China, including the rhetoric of "Chinese tolerance" and considers the heteronormative demands imposed on tongzhi subjects. She treats "the politics of public correctness" as a newly emerging tongzhi practice developed from the culturally specific, Chinese forms of regulation that inform tongzhi survival strategies and self-identification.

Alternating between Kam's own queer biography and her extensive ethnographic findings, this text offers a contemporary portrait of female tongzhi communities and politics in urban China, making an invaluable contribution to global discussions and international debates on same-sex intimacies, homophobia, coming-out politics, and sexual governance.

Transforming Citizenships: Transgender Articulations of the Law by Isaac West
Transforming Citizenships engages the performativity of citizenship as it relates to transgender individuals and advocacy groups. Instead of reading the law as a set of self-executing discourses, Isaac West takes up transgender rights claims as performative productions of complex legal subjectivities capable of queering accepted understandings of genders, sexualities, and the normative forces of the law.

Drawing on an expansive archive, from the correspondence of a transwoman arrested for using a public bathroom in Los Angeles in 1954 to contemporary lobbying efforts of national transgender advocacy organizations, West advances a rethinking of law as capacious rhetorics of citizenship, justice, equality, and freedom. When approached from this perspective, citizenship can be recuperated from its status as the bad object of queer politics to better understand how legal discourses open up sites for identification across identity categories and enable political activities that escape the analytics of heteronormativity and homonationalism.

Please join me in extending a big hug, kiss, and hearty congratulations to all the nominees!

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