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Congratulations to the 2023 Lambda Literary Award Finalists!

The 2023 Lambda Literary shortlist was announced today, celebrating 25 categories of LGBTQ+ literature. And so! many! books! that made the cut — from the 1,350+ that were submitted — have been reviewed, covered, and celebrated right here at Autostraddle in our ever-growing literature vertical. I feel confident saying this is actually the highest percentage of Lammy finalists that have received coverage of some sort by Autostraddle, especially when we factor in lists, roundups, and other forms of coverage beyond reviews and author interviews. This is evidence that we just keep expanding and finding ways to cover as many LGBTQ+ books and authors as possible despite our limited resources.

Check out the full list of finalists on the Lambda Literary website, and below I’m going to highlight the categories that feature books covered by Autostraddle. Congratulations to all of the shortlisted authors as well as everyone who played a role in the making of their books! And for the books in the highlighted categories below that haven’t been covered by Autostraddle yet, stay tuned! I’m hoping to add some more of these titles to our vertical’s shelves, especially as paperbacks become available! As for the shortlisted books below and finalists in other categories on the full list that did not receive standalone coverage already, many were still highlighted in our Best Queer Books of 2022 List and our Anticipated Queer Books Previews for Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall last year. And many have also been highlighted enthusiastically in our biweekly LGBTQ+ Literature news roundup, Rainbow Reading.

Lesbian Fiction

Gods of Want by K-Ming Chang

K-Ming Chang on Writing Sex Scenes, Profanity in Myths, and Letting Flash Fiction Be Messy

Hot Cheetos: A Chorus

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

This Gay Ocean Horror Book Is So Good I Want To Scream

Additional finalists in this category: Jawbone by Mónica Ojeda, translated by Sarah Booker, Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley, Big Girl by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Transgender Fiction

Manywhere by Morgan Thomas

Morgan Thomas On Weaving Genderqueer History Into Their Debut Short Fiction Collection “Manywhere”

Additional finalists in this category: All the Hometowns You Can’t Stay Away From by Izzy Wasserstein, Didn’t Nobody Give a Shit What Happened to Carlotta by James Hannaham, The Call-Out by Cat Fitzpatrick, Wrath Goddess Sing by Maya Deane

Transgender Nonfiction

Before We Were Trans: A New History of Gender by Kit Heyam

Gender Nonconformity Has Always Existed

Faltas: Letters to Everyone in My Hometown Who Isn’t My Rapist by Cecilia Gentili

Cecilia Gentili’s “Faltas” Is One of the Best Memoirs I’ve Ever Read

Additional finalists in this category: Feral City: On Finding Liberation in Lockdown New York by Jeremiah Moss, The Terrible We: Thinking with Trans Maladjustment by Cameron Awkward-Rich, The Third Person by Emma Grove

LGBTQ+ Nonfiction

How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures by Sabrina Imbler

I’ll Never Look at the Ocean the Same Way After Reading Sabrina Imbler’s “How Far the Light Reaches”

Virology: Essays for the Living, the Dead, and the Small Things in Between by Joseph Osmundson

Joe Osmundson on Expansive Science Writing and Living in an Impossible World

Additional finalists in this category: And the Category Is…: Inside New York’s Vogue, House, and Ballroom Community by Ricky Tucker, The Black Period: On Personhood, Race, and Origin by Hafizah Augustus Geter, The Women’s House of Detention: A Queer History of a Forgotten Prison by Hugh Ryan

LGBTQ+ Anthology

OutWrite: The Speeches That Shaped LGBTQ Literary Culture by Julie R. Enszer and Elena Gross

We Should Engage With LGBTQ History All Damn Year

Additional finalists in this category: Queer Nature: A Poetry Anthology edited by Michael Walsh, This Arab is Queer: An Anthology by LGBTQ+ Arab Writers by Elias Jahshan, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource by and for Transgender Communities Second Edition by Laura Erickson-Schroth, Xenocultivars: Stories of Queer Growth by Isabela Oliveira and Jed Sabin

Lesbian Memoir/Biography

Brown Neon by Raquel Gutiérrez

“Brown Neon” Is a Tribute to the Power of Art and Community in the American Southwest

Ma and Me by Putsata Reang

Putsata Reang’s New Memoir Fills In the Gaps of Lost Family History

Pretty Baby: A Memoir by Chris Belcher

Chris Belcher’s “Pretty Baby” Examines the Power of Shame in Our Culture

Chris Belcher on “Pretty Baby,” Dungeon Dynamics, and the Expansiveness of Queer Sex

Additional finalists in this category: Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place by Neema Avashia, Lost & Found: Reflections on Grief, Gratitude, and Happiness by Kathryn Schulz

LGBTQ+ Mystery

Lavender House by Lev A. C. Rosen

As Anti-LGBTQ Legislation Ramps Up in My Home State, I Find Myself Returning to This Book

Additional finalists in this category: A Death in Berlin by David C Dawson, And There He Kept Her by Joshua Moehling, Dead Letters from Paradise by Ann McMan, Dirt Creek: A Novel by Hayley Scrivenor

Lesbian Romance

Queerly Beloved by Susie Dumond

“Queerly Beloved” Is a Love Letter to Tulsa and Chosen Family

Additional finalists in this category: Hard Pressed by Aurora Rey, If I Don’t Ask by E. J. Noyes, Southbound and Down by K.B. Draper, The Rules of Forever by Nan Campbell

LGBTQ+ Romance and Erotica

The Romance Recipe by Ruby Barrett

“The Romance Recipe” Is the Steamy Beach Read You Need

Kiss Her Once For Me by Alison Cochrun

In a Year Full of Great Sapphic Holiday Romances, “Kiss Her Once for Me” Stood Out

Mistakes Were Made by Meryl Wilsner

Author Meryl Wilsner on Writing MILFs, Age Gaps, and Twisting Tropes

Additional finalists in this category: A Lady’s Finder by Edie Cay, Loose Lips: A Gay Sea Odyssey by Joseph Brennan

LGBTQ+ Studies

Lesbian Death: Desire and Danger between Feminist and Queer by Mairead Sullivan

Mairead Sullivan’s “Lesbian Death” Tells Us Why the L Isn’t Disappearing

Additional finalists in this category: Keeping It Unreal: Black Queer Fantasy and Superhero Comics by Darieck Scott, Sissy Insurgencies: A Racial Anatomy of Unfit Manliness by Marlon B. Ross, Surface Relations: Queer Forms of Asian American Inscrutability by Vivian L. Huang, There’s a Disco Ball Between Us: A Theory of Black Gay Life by Jafari S. Allen

Again, congratulations to ALL THE FINALISTS! The above just represent a portion of the shortlisted books and the 25 whopping categories. Make sure to check out the full list; keep checking the Autostraddle literature vertical for more LGBTQ+ book reviews, author interviews, lists, and features written by our all-queer team of critics and readers (we have new content almost daily!); and tune in for the Lambda Literary awards ceremony where the winners in each category will be announced on June 9, 2023 — there’s a virtual component as well as an in-person event in NYC. We love gay books!!!!

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 871 articles for us.


  1. This is so exciting! I’m loving AS’s expanded book coverage and I also love that I’ve read 3 of the finalists and I’m pretty sure I read 2 of them at least partly because of the AS coverage – Kiss Her Once For Me and Queerly Beloved.

    My reading taste doesn’t usually overlap with awards lists, so that’s pretty amazing to me.

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