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The wonder of Malinda Lo



Last Night at the Telegraph Club took young adult literature by storm. It was published in January of 2021 and has been awarded the Stonewall Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the National 2021 Book Award in Young People’s Literature, and is a New York Times Bestseller. Last Night at the Telegraph Club tells the story of Lily Hu, a queer, Chinese American, teenage girl in 1954. Throughout the book Lily struggles with her personal identity as well as Red-Scare paranoia threatening the deportation of her father, despite his American citizenship.

Screenshot taken from malindalo.com

Malinda Lo is one of the most brilliant, unique, and intriguing authors of this decade. She possesses the ability to transport readers back in time through literary skill and description, and puts commendable time, effort, knowledge, and research into everything she writes. Her debut as an author was Ash, a four-time award winning Sapphic retelling of Cinderella. Marie Rutkosk, bestselling author of The Winner's Trilogy, describes Lo as her “favorite kind of writer, one who can bring a scene to life with exquisite detail and nuance.”


Ms. Lo was born in Guangzhou, China and immigrated to the United States as a child. Growing up in Boulder, Colorado she loved school and dreamed of becoming a writer. After graduating with a master's degree in cultural anthropology from Stanford University and a master’s in East Asian Studies from Harvard University, Lo became a freelancer for LGBTQ+ media publications. Two years after the publication of her first book, Ms. Lo and fellow author Cindy Pon ran a website called Diversity in YA. Currently you can find a curated collection of Malinda Lo’s favorite blog posts about diversity and LGBTQ+ young adult writing on malindalo.com.


Screenshot taken from malindalo.com

Malinda Lo’s works differ from many other gay romance books that take place in the 1900s, because the entirety of her books do not simply surround the concept of a depressed, closeted, and terrified couple that risks it all to spend a few seconds in each other's arms. Instead her stories often follow the personal identity of one character and the complications of family burdens, sexuality, and relationships. Lo’s books provide readers with a story to escape to without repeating the same romance novel they have frequently read. Abdi Nazemian, author of Stonewall Honor Book Like a Love Story explains, “Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a beautifully observed story about finding love and fighting for one’s identity against tremendous odds. It’s vivid, emotional, and hopeful.”


In addition to her multi award winning novels, Malinda Lo has written A Scatter of Light (a companion to The Last Night at the Telegraph Club), A Line in the Dark, Huntress and the Adaptation series. The Adaption series, while still similar to other books of Ms. Lo’s, is a science fiction thriller that was the finalist for the 2013 Lambda Literary Award and a top selection of the 2013 Rainbow List.


All of Lo’s books tell beautiful stories about the complications of identity and relationships. Whether you are reading her science fiction thrillers or the Sapphic retelling of Cinderella, Malinda Lo writes teleporting stories that everyone can relate to.

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