The Publishing Triangle presents its list of finalists for the 32nd annual Triangle Awards. These prizes, honoring the best LGBTQ fiction, nonfiction, and poetry published in 2019, will be presented on April 30, 2020, at the Tishman Auditorium at the New School’s University Center (63 Fifth Avenue in New York City) at 7 p.m. Co-hosted by the Creative Writing Program, the ceremony is free and open to the public, with a reception to follow.
The Publishing Triangle, the association of LGBTQ people in publishing, began honoring a writer for their body of work a few months after the organization was founded in 1989. It has since partnered with the Ferro-Grumley Literary Awards to present an impressive array of awards each spring.
The Shilts-Grahn awards for nonfiction were begun in 1997. Each winner receives $1000. The Judy Grahn Award honors the American writer, cultural theorist, and activist (b. 1940) best known for The Common Woman (1969), Another Mother Tongue (rev. ed., 1984), and A Simple Revolution (2012). It recognizes the best nonfiction book of the year by or about lesbians, bisexual women, and/or trans women, or that has a significant influence upon the lives of queer women.
Finalists for the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction
In the Dream House, by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)
Sontag: Her Life and Work, by Benjamin Moser (Ecco)
Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, by Saidiya Hartman (W. W. Norton)
We Have Always Been Here, by Samra Habib (Viking / Penguin Canada)
Carmen Maria Machado’s last book, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for both the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction and the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction.
The Randy Shilts Award honors the journalist whose groundbreaking work on the AIDS epidemic for the San Francisco Chronicle made him a hero to many in the community. Shilts (1951–1994) was the author of The Mayor of Castro Street, And the Band Played On, and Conduct Unbecoming. This award recognizes the best nonfiction book of the year by or about gay men, bisexual men, and/or trans men, or that has significant influence upon the lives of queer men.
Finalists for the Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction
Buying Gay, by David K. Johnson (Columbia University Press)
How We Fight for Our Lives, by Saeed Jones (Simon & Schuster)
The Stonewall Reader, edited by the New York Public Library (Penguin Books)
When Brooklyn Was Queer, by Hugh Ryan (St. Martin’s)
David K. Johnson’s The Lavender Scare won this award in 2005. Saeed Jones’s Prelude to Bruise was a finalist for the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry in 2015.
The Publishing Triangle established its poetry awards in 2001. Each winner receives $1000. The Audre Lorde Award honors the American poet, essayist, librarian, and teacher. Lorde (1934–1992) was nominated for the National Book Award for From a Land Where Other People Live and was the poet laureate of New York State in 1991. She received the Publishing Triangle’s Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement shortly before her death. Among her sixteen other books are Zami (1982) and A Burst of Light (1989).
Finalists for the Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry
Be Recorder, by Carmen Giménez Smith (Graywolf Press)
Odes to Lithium, by Shira Erlichman (Alice James Books)
Soft Science, by Franny Choi (Alice James Books)
Tonguebreaker, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Arsenal Pulp Press)
Leah Piepzna-Samarasinha’s Bodymap was a finalist for this award in 2016; two of her nonfiction works have been finalists for the Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction.
The Thom Gunn Award honors the British poet Thom Gunn (1929–2004), who lived in San Francisco for much of his life. Gunn was the author of The Man with Night Sweats (1992) and many other acclaimed volumes. In its first four years, this award was known as the Triangle Award for Gay Poetry, and Mr. Gunn himself won the very first such prize, in 2001, for his Boss Cupid.
Finalists for the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry
The Book of Daniel, by Aaron Smith (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Company, by Sam Ross (Four Way Books)
Documents, by Jan-Henry Gray (BOA Editions)
Impure Acts, by Angelo Nestore; translated by Lawrence Schimel (Indolent Books)
Aaron Smith’s Appetite was a finalist for this award in 2013.
The Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, first presented in 2006, is named in honor of Edmund White, the esteemed novelist and man of letters who won the very first Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement, in 1989. The Edmund White Award celebrates the future of LGBTQ literature by awarding a prize to an outstanding first novel or story collection. The winner receives $1000.
Finalists for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction
Black Light, by Kimberly King Parsons (Vintage)
In West Mills, by De’Shawn Charles Winslow (Bloomsbury)
Lot, by Bryan Washington (Riverhead)
Shut Up You’re Pretty, by Téa Mutonji (Arsenal Pulp Press)
The Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature was first presented in 2016. Works of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction by writers whose self-definition is gender-variant or non-gender-conforming compete for this prize; in addition, works of nonfiction that are primarily about the trans/gender-variant experience and which are co-written or solely written by cis people are eligible. The winner receives $1000.
Finalists for the Publishing Triangle Award for Trans and Gender-Variant Literature
Disintegrate/Dissociate, by Arielle Twist (Arsenal Pulp Press)
I Hope We Choose Love, by Kai Cheng Thom (Arsenal Pulp Press)
The Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian), by Hazel Jane Plante (Metonymy Press)
We Both Laughed in Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan, 1961–1991, edited by Ellis Martin and Zach Ozma (Nightboat Books)
Kai Cheng Thom’s A Place Called No Homeland was a finalist in this category in 2018.
The Ferro-Grumley Literary Awards, Inc., was established in 1988 to recognize, promote excellence in, and give greater access to fiction writing from queer points of view. To honor the memory of authors Robert Ferro (The Blue Star, Second Son, etc.) and Michael Grumley (Life Drawing, etc.), life partners who both died that year of AIDS, the group gave two awards, one for lesbian fiction and one for gay fiction, from 1990 through 2008. Starting in 2009, a single award, the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction, has been presented; it is bestowed by a specially constituted panel of judges selected from throughout the United States and Canada, from the arts, media, publishing, bookselling, and related fields. The winner receives $1000 as well as a summer residency at Art Workshop International in Assisi, Italy.
Finalists for the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction
A Generous Spirit: Selected Work by Beth Brant, edited by Janice Gould (Sinister Wisdom)
Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernardine Evaristo (Black Cat / Grove Atlantic)
Lie with Me, by Philippe Besson; translated by Molly Ringwald (Scribner)
Like Wings, Your Hands, by Elizabeth Earley (Red Hen Press)
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong (Penguin Press)
Red at the Bone, by Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead)
Bernardine Evaristo’s Mr. Loverman won this award in 2015. Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds won the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry in 2017.
On April 29, the evening before the awards ceremony, the Publishing Triangle will sponsor a reading by a select group of finalists; this event will be held at Bureau of General Services—Queer Division, the bookstore inside the LGBT Community Services Center at 208 West 13th Street, Manhattan. The lineup of participating finalists will be announced later. This reading, which will begin at 7 p.m., is free, and books by the readers will be sold.