Queer Coded: 2023 LAMBDA Literary Award Finalists
For our Queer Coded series today, we’re proud to showcase the finalists of the 2023 LAMBDA Literary Awards featured on All Lit Up. Award winners are to be announced in June! Read more about the titles below.See more details below
Bisexual Nonfiction: Carrying It Forward (Wolsak & Wynn Publishers) by John Brady McDonald
A member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation and a descendent of Metis leader Jim Brady, John Brady has worked to move carefully between these two nations – to learn their stories, honour their traditions and reclaim their languages, all of which were nearly lost to him. In this wide-ranging collection the author looks at everything from the city of Prince Albert to his experience of residential school, to northern firefighting, to his time in the United Kingdom, where he “discovered” and “claimed” the island for the First People of the Americas. These are essays filled with history, much careful observation and some hard-learned lessons about racism, about recovery, about the ongoing tragedies facing Indigenous peoples.
Lesbian Poetry: Beast at Every Threshold (Arsenal Pulp Press) by Natalie Wee
An unflinching shapeshifter, Beast at Every Threshold dances between familial hauntings and cultural histories, intimate hungers and broader griefs. Memories become malleable, pop culture provides a backdrop to glittery queer love, and folklore speaks back as a radical tool of survival. With unapologetic precision, Natalie Wee unravels constructs of "otherness" and names language our most familiar weapon, illuminating the intersections of queerness, diaspora, and loss with obsessive, inexhaustible ferocity - and in resurrecting the self rendered a site of violence, makes visible the "Beast at Every Threshold."
Transgender Poetry: Emanations (Wolsak & Wynn Publishers) by Prathna Lor
In Prathna Lor’s first full-length collection we are introduced to a unique voice in Canadian poetry. Moving fluidly between prose poems and more fractured, open verse, Lor meditates on voice, on disaster and on identity, pushing always against commodification, against a consumable narrative. Prathna Lor is a poet, essayist, editor and educator, who has published in Canadian Literature, DIAGRAM, C Magazine, Jacket2, Poetry is Dead and Plenitude Magazine, among others.
LGBTQ+ Drama: Duecentomila (Playwrights Canada Press) by kai fig taddei
Estranged teenage cousins Eli and Kat have recently met online and bonded over their queer identities, but they have a limited understanding of each other’s very different realities. In Italy, soft-spoken Eli is trying to find a way to come out as trans to his conservative Roman Catholic family. In Canada, strong-headed Kat is desperate for connection to a culture and place she’s never known.
Kat and her friend Hannah are the only ones who know that Eli is trans—not even his brother Matteo knows. And while her intentions are good, Kat’s decision to crowdfund a flight for Eli to attend Toronto Pride unknowingly outs him to the public, setting off a chain of events that leave the cousins and their loved ones reeling.
LGBTQ+ Drama: Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land) & Antigone: 方 (Playwrights Canada Press) by Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho)
Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land) highlights the repetition of hate and colonialism that occur in ancient myths through a mischievous lens. Since Iphigenia was rescued from the sacrificial altar, she has served as a high priestess to the goddess Artemis on Tauros, where she in turn is to sacrifice any foreigners who try to enter. When she discovers that an exiled prisoner is her brother, they together plot their escape, but are soon confronted by a force beyond their control.
Antigone: 方 is set against the backdrop of the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement and Tiananmen Square Massacre protests. When citizens challenge a state’s traditional doctrine, the ruling family is divided between their own interests and those of its citizens. After brothers Neikes and Teo kill each other in the protests, their sister Antigone defies her father’s orders to retrieve Neikes’s body, causing the government—and what’s left of their family—to reach a reckoning.
LGBTQ+ Young Adult: Funny Gyal (Dundurn Press) by Angeline Jackson with Susan McClelland
When Angeline Jackson was a child, she wondered if there was something wrong with her for wanting to kiss the other girls. But as her sexuality blossomed in her teens, she knew she wouldn’t “grow out of it” and that her attraction to girls wasn’t against God. In fact, she discovered that same-sex relationships were depicted in the Bible, which she read devoutly, even if the tight-knit evangelical Christian community she grew up in believed any sexual relationship outside of marriage between a man and woman was a sin, and her society, Jamaica, criminalized homosexual sex.
Sometimes dark, always threadbare and honest, Funny Gyal chronicles how Angeline’s faith deepens as a teenager, despite her parents’ conservative values and the strict Christian Jamaican society in which she lives, giving her the courage to challenge gender violence, rape culture, and oppression.
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