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Ryka Aoki and Aaron Hamburger Win 2023 Jim Duggins, PhD Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize

Ryka Aoki and Aaron Hamburger Win 2023 Jim Duggins, PhD Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize

Author: LeKesha Lewis

June 8, 2023

Lambda Literary is pleased to announce Ryka Aoki and Aaron Hamburger as the winners of the 2023 Jim Duggins, PhD Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize.

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. This award is made possible by the James Duggins, PhD Fund for Outstanding Mid-Career LGBTQ Novelists, a fund of the Horizons Foundation, and includes a cash prize of $5,000.

About Ryka Aoki

Ryka Aoki’s latest novel, Light From Uncommon Stars (Tor Books 2021) was an Alex, Otherwise, and SCKA Award winner, and was a finalist for the Hugo, Locus, Dragon, and Ignyte Awards.  Ryka’s first novel, He Mele a Hilo, was called one of the “10 Best Books Set in Hawaii” by Bookriot. Her work has appeared or been recognized in publications including Vogue, Elle, Bustle, Autostraddle, PopSugar, Honolulu Magazine, and Buzzfeed, as well as NBC News and the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. She was also 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. She has an MFA in creative writing from Cornell University, where she was awarded the Philip Freund Prize for Excellence in Publication, as well as the University Award from the Academy of American Poets.
Ryka is currently a professor of English at Santa Monica College.

On Ryka’s work, judge and former Duggins Prize winner Vi Khi Nao remarked:

In a world where darkness can easily seep into the perforated pores of one’s spirit, Ryka Aoki’s vibrant, energetic, inspiring work for the trans community, for herself, and her writing is an uplifting daffodil in a field of nightshades. Acutely aware of her readers and her own Japanese American experience, she reads and writes animatedly, culturally, and performatively with verve of intensity and positivity. I am so excited for the world to experience her new body of work on Beni, the Goddess of Poetry, and the god, Piqua. 

About Aaron Hamburger

Aaron Hamburger is the author of a story collection titled THE VIEW FROM STALIN’S HEAD which was awarded the Rome Prize by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and nominated for a Violet Quill Award. He has also written three novels: FAITH FOR BEGINNERS, nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, NIRVANA IS HERE, winner of a Bronze Medal from the 2019 Foreword Reviews Indies Book Awards, and his most recent novel HOTEL CUBA, published this May.
His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Village Voice, Tin House, Michigan Quarterly Review, Subtropics, Crazyhorse, Boulevard, Poets & Writers, Tablet, O, the Oprah Magazine, Out, The Massachusetts Review, The Bennington Review, Nerve, Time Out, Details, and The Forward. He has also won fellowships from Yaddo, Djerassi, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the Edward F. Albee Foundation.
He has taught creative writing at Columbia University, the George Washington University, New York University, Brooklyn College, and the Stonecoast MFA Program.

On Aaron’s work, judge and former Duggins Prize winner Silas House commented:

Throughout his career Aaron Hamburger has published beautifully written novels, short stories, essays, and journalism, and other kinds of writing that has always been craft-centered and language-driven while also expanding and complexifying notions of LGBTQ life. Hamburger’s work has been published in some of the country’s most respected journals, magazines and newspapers while his books have been widely acclaimed and awarded. He has also been an advocate of LGBTQ writing on the whole, whether mentoring emerging LGBTQ talent or helping to make queer literature more a part of the national conversation. Hamburger is a writer who has done much to celebrate both the written word and LGBTQ existence; his career as a writer and teacher is exemplary and is very deserving to be honored as a Duggins Prize recipient. 

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