The Publishing Triangle presents its list of finalists for the 34th annual Triangle Awards. Winners will be announced virtually on Wednesday, May 11.
These prizes, which honor the best LGBTQ fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and trans literature published in 2021, are highly anticipated in both the publishing and queer communities. 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 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
Afterparties, by Anthony Veasna So (Ecco)
Milk Fed, by Melissa Broder (Scribner)
An Ordinary Wonder, by Buki Papillon (Pegasus Books)
The Rebellious Tide, by Eddy Boudel Tan (Dundurn Press)
Summer Fun, by Jeanne Thornton (Soho Press)
Eddy Boudel Tan’s After Elias was a finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction in 2021.
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
A Natural History of Transition, by Callum Angus (Metonymy Press)
The Prophets, by Robert Jones Jr. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Radiant Fugitives, by Nawaaz Ahmed (Counterpoint)
Silver Beach, by Claire Cox (University of Massachusetts 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 are eligible, even if co-written or solely written by cis people. The winner receives $1000.
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
Magnified, by Minnie Bruce Pratt (Wesleyan University Press)
Mama Phife Represents, by Cheryl Boyce Taylor (Haymarket Books)
Permanent Volta, by Rosie Stockton (Nightboat Books)
The Renunciations, by Donika Kelly (Graywolf Press)
Donika Kelly’s Bestiary was a finalist for this award in 2017, as was Minnie Bruce Pratt’s The Dirt She Ate, in 2004. Pratt’s collection Inside the Money Machine won this award in 2012.
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.
The Monster I Am Today: Leontyne Price and a Life in Verse, by Kevin Simmonds (Northwestern University Press)
Mutiny, by Phillip B. Williams (Penguin Books)
Punks: New and Selected Poems, by John Keene (The Song Cave)
Shoreditch, by Miguel Murphy (Barrow Street Press)
Phillip B. Williams’s Thief in the Interior was a finalist for this award in 2017.
The Publishing Triangle began giving the Shilts-Grahn awards for nonfiction 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 (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
Bessie Smith: A Poet’s Biography, by Jackie Kay (Vintage)
Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing, by Lauren Hough (Vintage)
Mouths of Rain: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought, edited by Briona Simone Jones (The New Press)
The Secret to Superhuman Strength, by Alison Bechdel (Mariner)
Alison Bechdel has won this award twice before, for Fun Home (2007) and Are You My Mother? (2013); Bechdel is also a past winner of the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement.
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
Antiman: A Memoir, by Rajiv Mohabir (Restless Books)
Gay Bar: Why We Went Out, by Jeremy Atherton Lin (Little, Brown)
Punch Me Up to the Gods, by Brian Broome (Mariner)
Racial Erotics: Gay Men of Color, Sexual Racism, and the Politics of Desire, by C. Winter Han (University of Washington Press)
In addition, the nonfiction judges bestowed a special award. Read all about it here.
On the evenings of May 9 and May 10 a group of finalists will participate in a virtual reading, hosted by the New York City–based bookshop Bureau of General Services—Queer Division. Also in the run-up to announcement of the winners in the competitive categories, videos from the winners of the Whitehead, Berzon, and Karlsberg Awards will be posted on the Publishing Triangle’s website.
Winners in these seven competitive categories will be announced on Wednesday, May 11. Because of Covid-19, once again there will be no in-person awards ceremony this year.