Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Larissa Lai win special Lambda Literary Awards
Leah was named winner of the 2020 Jeanne Cordova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction. The Cordova Prize was established in memory of the beloved activist and author, and honors lesbian/queer-identified women and trans/gender non-conforming nonfiction authors. The annual award goes a writer committed to nonfiction work that captures the depth and complexity of lesbian/queer life, culture, and/or history.
Leah is a queer disabled femme writer and performer of Burgher/Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/Roma ascent. They are the author, editor, or co-editor of several books, including three published by Arsenal Pulp Press: the memoir Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home (a finalist for both a Lambda Literary Award and the Publishing Triangle's Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction); the poetry book Tonguebreaker (a finalist for the Publishing Triangle's Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry), and the nonfiction bestseller Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice (a finalist for the Publishing Triangle's Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction).
In announcing Leah's award, the jury said: "We selected Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha as the winner of the Jeanne Cordova Prize this year for her specific voice, and a body of work written to ensure that lesbian/queer lives are not erased. Her writing about QTPOC communities and femme and queer disabled realities is breathtaking and immediate. And her forthcoming work shows that she continues to be committed to producing groundbreaking lesbian/queer nonfiction."
You can read an interview with Leah here.
Larissa is the winner of the 2020 Jim Duggins, PhD Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize. Dedicated to the memory of author and journalist Jim Duggins, this prize honors LGBTQ-identified authors who have published multiple novels, built a strong reputation and following, and show promise to continue publishing high quality work for years to come.
Larissa is an associate professor in the English department of the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. She is the author of three novels, the most recent of which, The Tiger Flu, won the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for lesbian fiction. She is also the author of the poetry book Automaton Biographies; her second poetry title, Iron Goddess of Mercy, will be published by Arsenal in 2021.
In announcing Larissa's award, the jury said: "Larissa Lai is way overdue for a prize that honors her very productive career that, since 1995, has been well received for its innovativeness and importance to cultural studies internationally, especially Asian Canadian/American literature. Her novels and other works are pertinent not only to lesbians, but to the entire queer community. She is also known for supporting the queer work and politics of younger writers, and of Indigenous communities. Academically and intellectually, through her writing, critical and fictional, and through her initiation of conferences and broader public conversations, Lai has been an enduring and important voice in literature regarding issues of queerness, identity in general, language and citizenship."
You can read an interview with Larissa here.
Huge congratulations to both Leah and Larissa!