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Four books by Africans have been shortlisted for the 2019 LAMBDA Literary Awards for literature about LGBTQI+ people. Equatoguinean writer Trifonia Melibea Obono’s La Bastarda earned a nomination in the Lesbian Fiction category, Nigerians Uzodinma Iweala’s Speak No Evil and Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater appear in the Gay Fiction and Transgender Fiction categories, respectively, and As You Like It: The Gerald Kraak Anthology Volume II, by The Other Foundation and collecting the shortlisted works for the 2018 Gerald Kraak Prize, appears in the LGBTQ Anthology category.

Organised by Lambda Literary, the US’ oldest and largest literary arts organization advancing LGBTQ literature, the LAMBDA Literary Awards, currently in its 31st year, “celebrate achievement in LGBTQ writing” across 23 categories. The 2019 finalists were “selected by a panel of over 60 literary professionals from over 1,000 book submissions from over 300 publishers.”

Trifonia Melibea Obono’s La Bastarda, translated by Lawrence Schimel and published by The Feminist Press at CUNY, is the first novel in English by a woman from Equatorial Guinea. Uzodinma Iweala’s Speak No Evil is published by HarperCollins/Harper. The Other Foundation’s As You Like It: The Gerald Kraak Anthology Volume II is published by Jacana Media.

Here is a description of La Bastarda by its publishers:

The first novel by an Equatorial Guinean woman to be translated into English, La Bastarda is the story of the orphaned teen Okomo, who lives under the watchful eye of her grandmother and dreams of finding her father. Forbidden from seeking him out, she enlists the help of other village outcasts: her gay uncle and a gang of “mysterious” girls reveling in their so-called indecency. Drawn into their illicit trysts, Okomo finds herself falling in love with their leader and rebelling against the rigid norms of Fang culture.

Here is a description of As You Like It:

As You Like It is a collection of the shortlisted entries [for the 2018 Gerald Kraak Prize] from over 400 submissions received from thirteen African countries. It showcases some of the most provocative works of fiction, poetry, journalism, photography and academic writing. This anthology series has become an act of protest, affirmation and love. It represents a new wave of fresh storytelling that stimulates thought and expression on the subject of gender, social justice, sexuality and self-expression.

The four books will be looking to join Chinelo Okparanta’s short story collection Happiness, Like Water and novel Under the Udala Treesboth of which won Best Lesbian Fiction in 2014 and 2016 respectivelyQueer Africa: New and Collected Fiction, edited by Makhosazana Xaba and Karen Martin, which won Best LGBTQ Anthology in 2014, and Chike Frankie Edozien’s Lives of Great Men which won Best Gay Memoir in 2018 in a select group of African books awarded by the world’s pre-eminent LGBTQ literary body.

The winners will be announced at the LAMBDA Awards Ceremony and Gala on 3 June 2019 in New York City. Tickets can be bought HERE.

See the other finalists on LAMBDA Literary’s website.

Brittle Paper congratulates the curators and authors.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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