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Stonewall Book Awards 2012 Committee Report

Stonewall Book Awards

2012 Committee Report

to the

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table

of the

American Library Association

June 15, 2012

The Stonewall Book Awards began its fifth decade of honoring books of exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience in the summer of 2011.  The fortieth anniversary year concluded with a celebratory brunch in New Orleans.  Books honored in the 2011 cycle included More of This World or Maybe Another by Barb Johnson, (Barbara Gittings Literature Award), Inseparable: Desire between Women in Literature by Emma Donoghue (Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award) and Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher (Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award).

The work of the 2012 cycle’s committee actually began in March and April 2011 as eligible books began arriving in committee members’ mailboxes.  The 2012 cycle honors books published between October 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011), and the committee received and considered 224 titles.  The committee conducted internal reviews via a Facebook group (using Facebook docs and conversational posts), e-mail discussion, and Google (via Google docs with commentary).  Books were received and evaluated through the end of October 2011.

Semifinalists were voted upon on November 19, 2011.  Forty-five semifinalists were selected, fifteen in each of three categories.  The committee continued to discuss the books under consideration for another month, and on December 16, 2011 the finalists were selected: five in each category.  For the next month, committee members discussed the volumes and also reread passages—and entire works—in anticipation of ALA Midwinter.

ALA Midwinter was the first opportunity for committee members to convene in person, and the first time for many to meet.  The committee met for an informal dinner at El Fenix, in Dallas, on January.  For a brief couple of hours, books were set aside in favor of getting to know one another, matching in-person voice to on-line persona.  The next day, the committee gathered for the first of two closed-door sessions to discuss selections.  Because consideration for the newly-named Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award had to be completed in time for the ALA Youth Media Awards process, this was the first award discussed, followed by the Barbara Gittings Literature Award and the Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award.

As the conversations progressed, the committee settled quickly on Bil Wright’s Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy (New York : Simon & Schuster BFYR (an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division); ISBN: 978-1416939962) as winner of the Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award.  This was followed by the Barbara Gittings Literature Award: Sweet Like Sugar, by Wayne Hoffman (New York : Kensington; ISBN: 978-0758265623).  The final category, non-fiction, developed into a spirited discussion of two titles.  When the final vote was taken, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, by Jonathan D. Katz and David C. Ward (Washington, D.C. : Smithsonian Books; ISBN: 978-1588342997) and Michael Bronski's A Queer History of the United States; Revisioning American History (Boston, Mass. : Beacon Press; ISBN: 978-0807044391) were tied.

All four winning texts are strikingly different, yet each has something profound to say about the state of GLBT life in America today.  Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture examines how queer people see themselves and their society, and how that vision has changed over the past 120 years.  Hide/Seek, the print accompaniment of the National Portrait Gallery show of the same name, explores the integral place of queer artists in the transformation of portraiture and representation.  Sweet Like Sugar looks at the nature of faith and belonging in the lives of two radically different men.  Paths of difference can sometimes converge, and when they do—as in this insightful novel—we must evaluate what it means to be both different and similar.  The answers aren’t always what we think they might be.  A Queer History of the United States; Revisioning American History touches on the ever-present queer component in the American story.  Reminding us that late-twentieth-century struggles were milestones—and not the beginning—of queer history, this popular history engages us in points of pride and self-recognition throughout the course of American history.  Queer people have been at the center , not the periphery, of the American story.  Finally, Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy introduces us to a character who is in some ways the culmination of movements and changes seen in the other winning titles.  Carlos Duarte is who he is, a young gay man who’s neither asking for nor waiting for approval.  From the earliest days of the American experience through to the youth of today’s multicultural America, the 2012 Stonewall Book Awards honor books of exceptional merit and distinction.

The roster of honor books supports and amplifies the list of winners:

Stonewall Honor Books in Literature

  • The Temperamentals: a new play, by Jon Marans (New York : Chelsea Station Editions ; ISBN: 978-0984470792);
  • Remembrance of Things I Forgot: A Novel, by Bob Smith (Madison, Wisc. : University of Wisconsin Press; ISBN: 978-0299283407);
  • Annabel: A Novel, by Kathleen Winter (New York : Black Cat (an imprint of Grove Atlantic); ISBN: 978-0802170828);
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition, by Oscar Wilde, author, and Nicholas Frankel, editor (Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; ISBN: 978-0674057920).

Stonewall Honor Books in Non-Fiction

  • Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender, by Nick Krieger (Boston, Mass. : Beacon Press; ISBN: 978-0807000922);
  • Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, edited by Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman (Vancouver, B.C. : Arsenal Pulp Press; ISBN: 978-1551523972);
  • Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories, by Wanda M. Corn and Tirza True Latimer (Berkeley, Calif. : University of California Press; ISBN: 978-0520270022);
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition, by Oscar Wilde (author), and Nicholas Frankel (editor) (Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; ISBN: 978-0674057920).

Stonewall Honor Books in Children’s & Young Adult Literature

  • Pink, by Lili Wilkinson (New York : HarperTeen (an imprint of HarperCollins); ISBN: 9780061926532);
  • With or Without You, by Brian Farrey (New York : Simon Pulse (an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division);  ISBN: 978-1442406995);
  • a + e 4ever, drawn and written by Ilike Merey (Maple Shade, N.J. : Lethe Press; ISBN: 978-1590213902);
  • Money Boy, by Paul Yee (Toronto : Groundwood Books (an imprint of House of Anansi Press); ISBN: 978-1554980949).

The fifteen titles chosen as winners and honor books reflect the broad reach of the awards.  There are thirteen publishers in the mix (Arsenal Pulp Press, Beacon Press, Chelsea Station Editions, Grove Atlantic, HarperTeen, Harvard University Press, House of Anansi Press, Kensington Publishing, Lethe Press, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, Smithsonian Books, University of California Press, University of Wisconsin Press), from small, independent houses to large multinational publishers, university presses to specialty publishers.  Nine cities across North America house those presses (Berkeley, Boston, Cambridge, Madison, Maple Shade, New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington.).  Authors of this year’s winning titles live in Canada, the US, and Germany, and identify as transgender, lesbian, bisexual, gay—and possibly straight.

Members of the 2012 Stonewall Book Awards Committee included:

  • Robert Bittner, Langley, BC;
  • W. Stephen Breedlove, Philadelphia, PA;
  • Amanda L. Clay (Chair-Elect), Clemson, SC;
  • David Bruce Combe, Ventura, CA;
  • Sarah Dahlen, Seaside, CA;
  • Lewis Brian Day (Chair), Cambridge, MA;
  • Joanna Wai Fu, Forest Hills, NY;
  • Hillary Tess Goldwasser, Lexington Park, MD;
  • Roland C. Hansen, Chicago, IL;
  • Rebecca D. Hunt, DeKalb, IL;
  • Lisa N. Johnston (Past Chair), Sweet Briar, VA;
  • Rose Nagle-Yndigoyen, New York, NY;
  • Laurie Spurling, Denver, CO;
  • Stephen Edward Stratton, Camarillo, CA.

As always, the committee received excellent support and guidance from ALA’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services.  Miguel Figueroa, Director, John Amundsen, Communications Specialist, and Elliot Mandel, Program Coordinator, provided help on budgets, press releases, contacts, time-management, reprographics, reservations, metrics, and photography.  Their assistance and dedication is a credit to ALA’s professional staff.

At the conclusion of the forty-first Stonewall cycle, librarians, publishers, bibliophiles and authors will gather in Anaheim for the Stonewall Book Awards brunch.  The event, at the Anaheim Marriott on Monday, June 25, 2012, will feature addresses by authors Michael Bronski, Bil Wright, Wayne Hoffman, Bob Smith and Brian Farrey, as well as a keynote address by activist/journalist/author Jeanne Cordova.

Any list of awards says at least as much about the people who select the winners and honor titles as it does the titles themselves.  The 2012 Stonewall Book Awards say the committee has seen anew the sweep of America—how we tell our own stories and present our faces and bodies to the world.  The committee saw unfolding before it the scope of contemporary life in North America—from the graphic novel to life on the streets to struggles for identity and respect.  The story of the 2012 Stonewall Book Awards has been of people seizing control of their destinies without apology.

Submitted respectfully and with gratitude,

Lewis Brian Day

Chair, Stonewall Book Awards