Last fall, I was put in the awkward position of telling Susan Choi that she was up for the annual Bad Sex Award. The tongue-in-cheek judges at the Literary Review had included her witty novel “My Education” (Viking) among their eight finalists — but she hadn’t heard yet.
In the end, Choi didn’t win that mocking honor, but Monday night, “My Education” — and its sex scenes — earned far better recognition: the Bisexual Fiction prize at the 26th annual Lambda Literary Awards in New York.
The Lammys, as they’re known, recognize the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books of the previous year. The prizes are sponsored by the nonprofit Lambda Literary Foundation, a legacy of Washington’s Lambda Rising Bookstore, which closed in 2010.
Among the authors honored at the ceremony held at Cooper Union College was Alison Bechdel. She received the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Trustee Award for Excellence in Literature. This is more good news for the cartoonist who was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. You may remember that in April, Bechdel got caught in the middle of a funding controversy when conservative Republican lawmakers in South Carolina objected to her graphic novel memoir “Fun Home” (2006) being taught at the College of Charleston. She couldn’t have asked for better publicity.
Bechdel wasn’t the only comics creator honored Monday night. For the first time, this year the Lambda Literary Awards included a category for the best LGBT Graphic Novel. The prize was won by Nicole J. Georges for her graphic memoir, “Calling Dr. Laura” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
Cultural critic Hilton Als received the LGBT Nonfiction award for “White Girls” (McSweeney’s). Reviewing the book for the Washington Post earlier this year, Michael Lindgren called Als’s book “passionate, deeply personal and often blazingly insightful.” “White Girls” was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in Criticism.
David Levithan, an editor at Scholastic, won the LGBT Children’s/YA prize for his 16th book, “Two Boys Kissing” (Knopf). In her review for The Washington Post last year, Mary Quattlebaum called the novel “rare and refreshing” and said it “reveals Levithan’s command of an intriguing, complex narrative.” Levithan’s “Boy Meets Boy” won a Lammy in 2004 and his anthology “The Full Spectrum” won in 2007. This year, he shared the LGBT Children’s/YA prize with Sara Farizan, the author of “If You Could Be Mine” (Algonquin).
Comedian Kate Clinton served as the host of the Lambda ceremony.
Here are the Lammy winners in other categories:
GAY GENERAL FICTION: “Mundo Cruel: Stories,” by Luis Negron; translated by Suzanne Jill Levine (Seven Stories).
LESBIAN GENERAL FICTION: “Happiness, Like Water,” by Chinelo Okparanta (Mariner).
LGBT DEBUT: “Descendants of Hagar,” by Nik Nicholson (AuthorHouse).
TRANSGENDER FICTION: “Wanting in Arabic,” by Trish Salah (TSAR).
TRANSGENDER NONFICTION: “The End of San Francisco,” by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (City Lights).
BISEXUAL NONFICTION: “The B Word: Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television,” by Maria San Filippo (Indiana Univ.).
GAY POETRY: “Unpeopled Eden,” by Rigoberto Gonzalez (Four Way).
LESBIAN POETRY: “Rise in the Fall,” by Ana Bozicevic (Birds).
GAY MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY: “A Heaven of Words: Last Journals,” by Glenway Wescott, edited by Jerry Rosco (Univ. of Wisconsin).
LESBIAN MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY: “Body Geographic,” by Barrie Jean Borich (Univ. of Nebraska).
GAY MYSTERY: “The Prisoner of the Riviera: A Francis Bacon Mystery,” by Janice Law (MysteriousPress/Open Road Media).
LESBIAN MYSTERY: “High Desert,” by Katherine V. Forrest (Spinsters Ink).
GAY ROMANCE: “Into This River I Drown,” by TJ Klune (Dreamspinner).
LESBIAN ROMANCE: “Clean Slate,” by Andrea Bramhall (Bold Strokes).
GAY EROTICA: “The Padisah’s Son and the Fox,” by Alex Jeffers (Lethe).
LESBIAN EROTICA: “Wild Girls, Wild Nights: True Lesbian Sex Stories,” edited by Sacchi Green (Cleis).
LGBT ANTHOLOGY (FICTION): “Queer Africa: New and Collected Fiction,” by Karen Martin and Makhosazana Xaba (MaThoko’s Books).
LGBT ANTHOLOGY (NON-FICTION): “Who’s Yer Daddy?: Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners,” edited by Jim Elledge and David Groff (Univ. of Wisconsin).
LGBT DRAMA: “Tom at the Farm,” by Michel Marc Bouchard (Talonbooks).
LGBT SF/F/HORROR: “Death by Silver,” by Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold (Lethe).
LGBT STUDIES: “Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence,” by Christina B. Hanhardt (Duke Univ.).