Ivan Coyote, Hiromi Goto, Lee Lai & Alix Ohlin among Canadians shortlisted for 2022 Lambda Literary Awards

The Lambda Literary Awards have celebrated LGBTQ storytelling for more than three decades. This year, a panel of 60 literary professionals selected finalists in 24 categories from 2,300 submissions.

The Lambda Literary Awards have celebrated LGBTQ storytelling for more than 30 years

Writers Ivan Coyote, Hiromi Goto, Lee Lai, Alix Ohlin are finalists for the 2022 Lambda Literary Awards. (Emily Cooper, First Second Press, Leah Jing, Emily Cooper)

Ivan Coyote's book Care Ofa collection of pandemic correspondence, is a finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Awards, also known as the Lammys. 

The Lambda Literary Awards have celebrated LGBTQ storytelling for more than three decades. This year, a panel of 60 literary professionals selected finalists in 24 categories from 2,300 submissions.

Coyote, a stage performer and an award-winning writer from Yukon, is among a dozen Canadians to be nominated.

Their book Care Of takes place during the pandemic. Coyote has spent years on the road, telling stories to live audiences around the world. When COVID-19 cancelled their performances, Coyote pulled out a file of letters, emails, Facebook messages and handwritten notes from readers and decided to write responses. Some of these messages and replies — which span themes of family, empathy and identity — are included in Care Of.

"I wasn't envisioning it as a manuscript when I first started writing it. I was literally just answering letters," said Coyote in an interview with Shelagh Rogers on The Next Chapter.

"It's absolutely about listening. I didn't respond to any of those letters without reading it over and over again — probably 10, 15 times, at least before I started to respond."

The book is nominated in the transgender nonfiction category, and was also a finalist for the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for nonfiction. Coyote is the author of 13 books, including the memoir Tomboy Survival Guideand has also created four short films and three albums that combine storytelling with music.

LISTEN | Ivan Coyote on Care Of

Ivan Coyote talks to Shelagh Rogers about Care Of: Letters, Connections and Cures.

B.C. writer Hiromi Goto is a Lambda finalist for her graphic novel Shadow Lifeillustrated by American artist Ann Xu.

Their comic book follows a senior citizen named Kumiko, who runs away from her assisted living facility and settles down in a secret apartment in the coolest part of town. Kumiko is content with her life, until she discovers that Death's shadow has been following her.

"I have a very long relationship with older figures, and particularly older women, because my grandmother lived with us when we were children and was one of the parental figures of my life," said Goto in an interview with Tom Power on Q.

"I read a lot of novels and watch a lot of film and am often troubled by how older characters are invisibilized or not treated respectfully as complex characters. Being a writer myself, I can bring complex and vibrant older women of colour as central characters and it feels very empowering, affirming and it feels like reality."

Shadow Life is nominated in the LGBTQ Comics category, and is also a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize. This is Goto's first graphic novel — she's also the author of the novels Chorus of Mushrooms, Half World and Darkest Light.

Listen | Hiromi Goto on Shadow Life

Montreal-based Australian creator Lee Lai is also a finalist in the LGBTQ Comics category. Her debut comic Stone Fruit follows queer couple Bron and Ray, as their relationship falls apart. In losing each other, Bron and Ray turn to repair fractured bonds with family members.

B.C. fiction writer Alix Ohlin is nominated in the bisexual fiction category for her collection We Want What We Want. The short stories in this book explore parenthood, lost love, wasted potential and more, showcasing life's humour, discomfort and beauty.

"A lot of what's happening in the stories is people pursuing their desires, even to their own detriment, like wanting to remake themselves or wanting to seek out a connection with someone else and making messy choices and consequences as a result of their desires," said Ohlin in an interview with CBC Books.

"It's a messy place in our lives, but messy places are good for stories."

We Want What We Want was also a finalist for the 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Prize. Ohlin is the current chair of the creative writing program at the University of British Columbia. Her previous two books were novels — Inside and Dual Citizens, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Toronto writer MJ Lyons was nominated in the LGBTQ Erotica category for his debut collection Queer Werewolves Destroy Capitalism: Smutty Stories. The five stories centre around a pack of werewolves and a witch couple who storm downtown Toronto to protest the poor treatment of workers.

"I want queer people to embrace the weird," said Lyons in an email to CBC Books.

"I want everyone to fly their freak flag in the face of 'normal,' and embrace their sexy, smutty weirdness... I can promise you it's a hell of a lot of fun, and there's a world of people out there who will think it's hot, too!"

Here are all the books that include Canadian writers and artists nominated for 2022 Lambda Literary Prizes:

  • Bisexual fiction category:

We Want What We Want by Alix Ohlin

  • Transgender Nonfiction category:

Care Of by Ivan Coyote

  • LGBTQ Nonfiction category:

Northern Light by Kazim Ali

  • Lesbian Poetry category:

The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak by Grace Lau

  • LGBTQ Children's/Middle Grade category:

Love, Violet by Charlotte Sullivan Wild, illustrated by Charlene Chua
The Fabulous Zed Watson! by Basil Sylvester and Kevin Sylvester

  • LGBTQ Comics category:

Shadow Life by by Hiromi Goto, illustrated by Ann Xu
Stone Fruit by Lee Lai

  • LGBTQ Erotica category:

Queer Werewolves Destroy Capitalism: Smutty Stories by MJ Lyons

  • LGBTQ Mystery category:

Bath Haus by P.J. Vernon

  • LGBTQ Speculative Fiction category:

Phototaxis by Olivia Tapiero, translated by Kit Schluter

  • LGBTQ Studies category:

Transtopia in the Sinophone Pacific by Howard Chiang

Read about all the 2022 Lambda Literary Award finalists on their website.

The winners will be revealed at a virtual ceremony hosted by drag queen and visual artist Sasha Velour on June 11, 2022.

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