A South African collection of gay and lesbian African fiction has won a coveted literary award in New York City.
On Monday, Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction was honoured with the LGBT Anthology Fiction prize at the annual Lambda Literary Awards, making it the first African-produced book to win a ‘Lammy’.
Now in their 26th year, the awards identify and celebrate the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the year.
Edited by Karen Martin, a fiction writer, collage artist and professional editor, and Makhosazana Xaba, an author and poet, Queer Africa includes 18 historical and contemporary stories by writers from six African countries.
The book beat out nine other finalists in the LGBT Anthology category.
“This award celebrates the work of African writers willing to risk expressing what it’s like to be African and queer,” said co-editor Martin on accepting the award in New York.
“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,” she said.
“Queer Africa invites us as readers to see our continent through different eyes, to experience the world through different bodies. 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,” Xaba added.
Karen Martin accepted the Lammy in New York
Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko, whose Caine Prize-winning story Jambula Tree is republished in the collection, commented on the critical need for the publication.
“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.”
Other writers included in the anthology are: Wame Molefhe, Richard de Nooy, Dolar Vasani, Natasha Distiller, Wamuwi Mbao, Barbara Adair, Beatrice Lamwaka, Lindiwe Nkutha, Rahiem Whisgary, Mercy Minah, Roger Diamond, Annie Holmes, TO Molefe, Davina Owombre, Martin Hatchuell, Emil Rorke, Lindiwe Nkutha, K Sello Duiker and Rory Kilalea.
Queer Africa is the first foray into publishing short fiction by MaThoko’s Books, a new publishing division of Johannesburg-based GALA (better known as the gay and lesbian archives).
Queer Africa is available at Exclusive Books and other good bookstores.