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Waters' lesbian agenda.

It might be expected that countless lesbian readers have become fans of Sarah Waters' historical novels about the thrilling, bawdy lives of lesbians in Victorian London, but Waters' contributions to literature and to lesbian culture are even more significant because she has been embraced by the mainstream. London's Independent even described her as "one of the best storytellers alive today."

Her latest novel, The Night Watch, which unpacks the intermingled lives of three women and one man in World War II London, has not only been shortlisted for the Orange Prize--an international literary award for women writers--it's also been published in 23 different countries. Recently, the London Observer listed Waters as No. 14 on its list of the 50 most influential people in British publishing, stating that "she has taken lesbian writing well and truly into the mainstream."

Waters has indeed come a long way from her days as a Ph.D. student in gay and lesbian historical literature, when she first came across a Victorian slang term for cunnilingus: "tipping the velvet." Her first novel, named after that slang term, was initially rejected by 10 publishers before being picked up by Virago for a modest print run of 5,000 copies. It wasn't until the BBC's television adaptation of Tipping the Velvet hit the small screen in 2002 that Waters' tale of lesbian love on the stages and streets of Victorian London really took off. In the first two weeks after Tipping the Velvet aired on the BBC, 60,000 copies were reportedly sold, quickly turning Waters into an icon of contemporary literature--queer or otherwise.

Her second novel, Affinity, garnered her the Sunday Times' Young Writer of the Year award. Her third novel, Fingersmith, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, one of the world's most prestigious literary awards, and was adapted into a second, critically acclaimed, BBC miniseries. The Night Watch, with its measured, intimate postwar tone, has shown that Waters can write more than lush, Victorian melodrama, but it also shows that Waters continues to be dedicated to writing about lesbians. "I'm writing with a clear lesbian agenda in the novels," she told AfterEllen.com in April. "It's right there at the heart of the books."

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Title Annotation:Curvatures; Sarah Waters
Author:Lo, Malinda
Publication:Curve
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:369
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