Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction has won the fiction anthology category at the 26th Lambda Literary Awards, making it the first African-produced book to take out a ‘Lammy’.
‘This award celebrates the work of African writers willing to risk expressing what it’s like to be African and queer,’ said co-editor Karen Martin on accepting the award.
‘On behalf of the contributors, editors and publisher, I would like to thank the Lambda Literary Foundation for this powerful encouragement in the extremes of our circumstances.’
Fellow editor Makhosazana Xaba was quick to praise the writers for their high-quality contributions: ‘This award honours the exceptionally talented authors featured in the collection.’
‘Queer Africa invites us as readers to see our continent through different eyes, to experience the world through different bodies,’ Xaba added. ‘The stories help to surface our shared humanity and to rethink what it means to be African and to be queer. Like all good storytellers, these writers allow us to learn more about ourselves.’
Released in August 2013 by MaThoko’s Books, an imprint of Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, Queer Africa contains eighteen stories from six countries. It is the first anthology of its kind produced in Africa by Africans.
With widespread homophobia taking place across the continent, there is an urgent need for writing that challenges the hateful rhetoric of religious and political leaders and that encourages open dialogue.
Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko, whose Caine Prize-winning story ‘Jambula Tree’ is republished in the collection, recognised the critical need for the book.
‘Queer Africa is an essential addition to the conversation currently taking place on the continent,’ she said. ‘We cannot draw fault lines that are too strong and stand on opposite sides of the fence and call that a conversation. We need to talk, see and hear each other.’
The Lambda Literary Awards were established in 1988 to recognise excellence in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) writing. This year’s awards were announced on 2 June 2014 at Cooper Union College in New York City.
The full press release about the award can be downloaded here.