National Book Award Touts Author Who Queers Romance for Teens

A lesbian couple touching their hands
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The left-wing National Book Awards selected as its young people’s literature winner a novel aimed at queering teens.

The book, entitled Last Night at the Telegraph Club, “follows a queer 17-year-old in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the Red Scare who is falling in love for the first time,” the New York Times reported.

Although published books about the LGBT lifestyle have grown in recent years, this book about lesbian lovers is designed for teens and even younger readers.

Author Malinda Lo made it clear in her remarks and in many online postings that she is also an activist.

“In her speech, she urged viewers to pay attention to their school boards and vote in local elections,” the Times reported.

“We need your support to keep our stories on the shelves,” Lo said. “Don’t let them erase us.”

The Times also reported on Jason Mott who won the top prize for fiction:

Jason Mott won the National Book Award for fiction on Wednesday for his novel “Hell of a Book,” an account of a Black author’s book tour intertwined with one focused on a Black boy in the rural South and a third character, The Kid, who may be imaginary.

Mr. Mott, who said that his agent had picked his work out of the unsolicited “slush” pile 10 years ago, is a poet and the author of three novels in addition to “Hell of a Book.”

“I would like to dedicate this award to all the other mad kids, to all the outsiders, the weirdos, the bullied,” Mott said. “The ones so strange they had no choice but to be misunderstood by the world and by those around them. The ones who, in spite of this, refuse to outgrow their imagination, refuse to abandon their dreams and refuse to deny, diminish their identity, or their truth, or their loves, unlike so many others.”

For the second year, the award ceremony was virtual unlike past black-tie events held at the Cipriani Wall Street.

Phoebe Robinson, who is listed as one of “14 Queer Female Comedians You Need To Follow” on the Odyssey website, hosted this year’s event.

“The National Book Award is one of the most closely watched literary prizes in the world, previously awarded to luminaries such as William Faulkner, W.H. Auden and Ralph Ellison. It can boost book sales and transform an author’s profile,” the Times reported.

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