Lambda Literary today announced that Ryka Aoki and Aaron Hamburger are the winners of the 2023 Jim Duggins, PhD Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize. Ryka Aoki is an sff author whose novel Light From Uncommon Stars (Tor Books 2021) won the Otherwise Award and was a finalist for the Hugo, Locus, Dragon, and Ignyte Awards. Hamburger is an author who works outside the sff field.
Dedicated to the memory of author and journalist Jim Duggins, this prize honors LGBTQ-identified authors who have published multiple novels, built a strong reputation and following, and show promise to continue publishing high quality work for years to come. The award includes a cash prize of $5,000.
Ryka’s first novel, He Mele a Hilo, was called one of the “10 Best Books Set in Hawaii” by Bookriot. She was honored by the American Association of Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, where two of her compositions were named the organization’s “songs of peace.” Ryka has been recognized by the California State Senate for “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.” She is a two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, and served as the Poetry Faculty for the 2018 Lambda Emerging Writers Retreat.
Here is an excerpt from the Lambda Literary website’s interview “Four Questions with Ryka Aoki”:
How has access to queer literature/ stories impacted your life as a queer person and shaped you as a writer?
In my case, I think it was lack of access. I don’t think we had so much queer literature when I was growing up. Definitely not trans Asian-American literature! That’s one reason why, no matter what I write, be it poetry or essays or songs or science fiction novels, I bring my authentic self—even if it is in outer space with donuts—to the page. Some people will identify with my characters and that makes me really happy.
But also, my identity does not match the identity of many readers. And I hope with them, my literature does what the literature of my childhood did for me. Despite our differences, I would like my work to impel future writers to take the pen or the keyboard or the direct thought -to-word input (wherever we are at the time) and create their worlds, their songs, their novels.
And I can’t wait to read them.
[Based on a press release.]