Lammy Nominees!

Lambda Literary recently closed its submissions for the 22nd Annual Lammy Awards. As always, I think we can always see who will be the winners, or at least short-listed. It's easy. First, you cut out all the self-published stuff (because most likely the authors are nominating themselves as opposed to say publishing houses; and most of the time these books are not worked out enough, I don't think so--and they have no chance).  After that, you cross out all the books you haven't heard of yet. And then, you have your winner. It's usually the books with the most buzz, the books who's publishers can afford a decent cover, it's usually the gay book of the year that has already been promoted and the prize is just something a little sweet.

Unlike the major book awards (Pulitzer, National Book), it's gay and smaller authors do have a chance to win. Yet also unlike the major awards, there are so many categories. Just look at the webpage and it's so subdivided. Firstly, we have the fiction and nonfiction. Then you have to divide the fiction into gay or lesbian (queers, trannies, and bi-folk don't have such specific categories and must run amok--both fiction and nonfiction--in a separate category). And within gay and lesbian, it is further divided into debut fiction, general fiction, mystery, erotica, romance. So many categories, so many winners! It's like if you're a decent writer, you might as well win something, you're nearly guaranteed it (as long as you can fit into a category). And I think that is what downgrades the prestige of the Lammy award. It's nearly a joke when there's so many possibilities and not just one or two.

What even irks me more is that in some categories, the same people are bound to win--i.e. Richard Labonte is bound is win yet again in the erotica category with his Best Gay Erotica series.  The Best Gay Erotica series is nearly the gay equivalent of the Best American Short Stories or O Henry Prizes (but for gays), yet the difference lies in that the two mainstream series don't even try to nominate themselves for say...the Pulitzer. I think that's against the point. It's like two contests here. You cannot nominate the O Henry Award winners for a National Book Award; why does Lambda Literary accept something that gathers up the year's best works and then give it the prize. I think this is outrageous and another reason why the Lammies are of no prestige. If it was up to me, I would only have four prizes: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama. By doing so, only four prizes are given out instead of 22. While identity is important, I think the queerness should come second to the writing quality of the whole and all writing genres should be able to compete against each other (for example a piece of erotica must be able to compete with a piece of literary fiction...there shouldn't be a difference).

Anyway, I'm ranting now. Here are my picks for the fiction prizes.

Debut Lesbian Fiction
More of This World or Maybe Another by Barb Johnson (I knew she was a lesbian!)

General Lesbian Fiction
Risk by Elana Dykewomon (You gotta love that name)

Lesbian Erotica
Best Lesbian Erotica 2010 by Kathleen Warnock

Gay Debut Fiction
Sugarless by James Magruder (everyone fucking loves a coming of age story)

Gay Fiction
Ugly Man by Dennis Cooper (Dennis Cooper should win)

Gay Erotica
Best Gay Erotica 2010 by Richard Labonte

Good luck to all the nominees...even though none of you are reading this...


  1. eric-
    hmm. how did i end up here? oh, yeah- 'you fight like anne rice', great blog title, caught my eye as one of the blogs rob wolfsham favors, so i clicked over, and there you were, smart if sometimes skewed thoughts on the lambda literary awards, which as it happens i'm coordinating almost all of this year (not gay erotica or lgbt anthology, where i'm also nominated)... i've accepted a few of rob's stories for assorted anthos, including Best Gay Erotica. sweet of you to rank BGE with O. Henry. but, you know, it's been nominated five or six time for a gay erotica lammy, won only twice, to books that deserved well to win. so, not a sure thing, and that's good for everyone. personally, i like 'low road' and 'boytoon adventures' this year. about all those categories - they ebb and flow, there have been as few as 16 or so, as many as 24. the deal is, you're right, with a lot of categories there are a lot of winners, which gives the relatively unknown writers some bragging rights, even as a finalist if not a winner, when it comes to peddling their next book - or even being motivated to write it. that said, the "prestige" wins are lesbian fiction and gay fiction. i agree that dennis is a standout in gf, but so are vestal mcintyre and stacey d'erasmo and peter gadol and bruce benderson and abdellah taia, and in lf i agree that elena is a contender, not just for her last name - she's a pioneer from the days when names were changed to fit politics.
    i kept reading after the lammy post - i've bookmarked you. you're opinionated and a bookseller (i was, too, for 20 years) and obviously have a passion for print. kudos. -richard labonte

  2. Wow, I guess if you write queer speculative fiction you're not important. Thanks, Eric!