Susquehanna Professor Wins Lambda Literary Award for Memoir
Published on June 12, 2012
Glen Retief, assistant professor of English and creative writing at Susquehanna University, was named a winner of the prestigious Lambda Literary Award in a ceremony June 5 in New York City. Retief won the category of Gay Memoir/Biography with his book, “The Jack Bank: A Memoir of a South African Childhood,” published by St. Martin’s Press.
Retief recently launched the paperback version of “The Jack Bank” with a signing at Service 1st Federal Credit Union in Shamokin Dam. He donated the event’s proceeds to the Brandon Bitner Memorial Scholarship Fund at Susquehanna University, in honor of the local teen who cited bullying as a factor in his November 2010 suicide.
“As an undergraduate student in Cape Town 20 years ago, the Lambda Awards helped draw my attention to authors like David Leavitt, Edmund White, Audre Lorde, Tony Kushner, Alan Hollinghurst, Gloria Anzaldua and Michael Cunningham,” Retief said. “Many of these authors went on to become household names and, to me, as a budding writer, major role models. I'm overwhelmed by the honor of this award, [standing] in the company of my literary heroes.”
The winners were announced at a sold-out gala event hosted by comedienne Kate Clinton at the City University of New York Graduate Center. The 24th annual ceremony celebrated excellence in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender literature with more than 400 attendees, sponsors and celebrities, including Armistead Maupin, author of the groundbreaking “Tales of the City” books, and feminist writer Kate Millett, both of whom were honored with the Pioneer Award. Presenters included Olympia Dukakis, Charles Busch, Frank Bruni, Ally Sheedy and Ross Bleckner, among others.
Retief was unable to attend the ceremony because he was in his native South Africa with Susquehanna students as part of the university’s GO (Global Opportunities) program. The students were learning travel writing while immersed in rural South African culture.
Karen M. Jones