#BookPride21: An Anti-Prize
For this year’s Pride season, we decided to create an ‘anti-prize’ for queer literature.
The idea behind our ‘anti-prize’ is to capture the good parts of prize culture (such as creating ‘buzz’ around particular queer works, having a short-term programme of events, creating shared reading lists/resources for collection development, helping people the positive overload of queer literature that is published, and giving more promotion for queer writers) while mitigating the negative effects of prize culture (such as hierarchies, pitting queer literature against each other, gatekeeping prize-money, institutional bias in awards boards, over-categorising queer authors).
It's always felt a bit weird of us to take the few queer books, especially trans work, that make it to publication each year, and then pit them against each other to declare the best. In recent years, Joshua Whitehead even withdrew his work from consideration for the Lambda Trans Poetry prize, stating 'My gender, sexuality, and my identities supersede Western categorizations of LGBTQ+ because Two-Spirit is a home-calling, it is a home-coming'. Yet we recognise that there are good and also practical things that can be taken from prize culture: the elevation of underrepresented writers and their works, as well as help for people navigating the overwhelming tide of new content. Public libraries, in particular those in the UK, frequently lack resources to research which queer content to add to their collections, even if they want to do so. Buying a shortlist of prize books can be an easy way to boost collections.
Focusing on these positives, we want to celebrate four literary works as chosen by the library’s volunteer staff during the month of July. Each work will receive a week of social media celebration and one virtual event. They each fit our own collection priorities: mostly recent, non-US based books, published by smaller indies, and/or written by underrepresented queer writers. These are the areas we have found most fruitful when looking for new queer writing, and we think they would all make excellent additions to any public library's queer collections. Most importantly, however, they are works that our team have loved over this past year and can't wait to celebrate.
We aim for the model of Book Pride to be used across different grassroots queer libraries and hope each library’s anti-prize will reflect their unique approach to collection development - the Gender Community Lending Library have already started posting their own works for #BookPride21. We invite any other library groups or even individuals to celebrate their #BookPride21 along with us across social media and cyberspace.
You can follow further announcements on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, and the Book28 team is available for questions through this email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
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