The Louisiana Library Association has selected Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation as the recipient of its prestigious Louisiana Literary Award. This is the first time an LGBT+ themed book has won the award.
Published by Liveright, Tinderbox is the third book written about the tragic arson and positions the fire in the context of the national gay liberation movement. The Louisiana Literary Award is just the latest in a long line of honors the book has garnered. Featured in The New York Times and on NPR, Tinderbox was named a Best Book of 2018 by Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal. More recently, it won the Edgar Award in the category of Best Fact Crime.
Fieseler, originally from Chicago, moved to New Orleans with his husband, artist Ryan Leitner, after years of traveling to New Orleans to conduct research for the book. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana. A recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship and the Lynton Fellowship in Book Writing, Fieseler graduated co-valedictorian from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Fieseler’s feature stories have been published in a wide variety of places, including the anthology, My Gay New Orleans. Fieseler’s work has also been recognized in roundups of best nonfiction by The Atlantic, and his essays have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
The Louisiana Literary Award consists of a bronze plaque and a cash prize of $250.00. The award was scheduled to be presented at an awards ceremony on March 26, 2020, as part of the Louisiana Library Association’s Annual Conference at the Lafayette Cajundome and Convention Center, Lafayette, LA. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent social distancing, the Award and Conference Committees are currently planning an alternative awards program.