12 titles announced on Polari 2019 shortlists

From teaching same sex relationships in schools to a trans perspective of Victorian London and a moving wildlife memoir, 12 outstanding books have been named on the shortlists for The Polari Prize and Polari First Book Prize, which was announced on Friday evening at London’s Southbank Centre. The Prizes recognise writers whose work explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction. New to 2019, The Polari Prize recognises established authors, while the Polari First Book Prize (now in its ninth year) continues to champion work by new writers.

The shortlist for the Polari First Book Prize 2019 is:

XX by Angela Chadwick (Dialogue Books)
Attend by West Camel (Orenda Books)
The Unexpected Love Objects of Dunya Noor by Rana Haddad (Hoopoe)
The House On Half-Moon Street by Alex Reeve (Raven)
Soho by Richard Scott (Faber & Faber)
Next Lesson by Chris Woodley (Aurora Metro Books)

The shortlist for The Polari Prize 2019 is:

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway by Kate Bradbury (Bloomsbury)
Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale (Tinder)
Prodigal by Charles Lambert (Gallic)
A Simple Scale by David Llewellyn (Seren)
Playtime by Andrew McMillan (Cape Poetry)
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (Granta)

Cerys Evans with the Polari First Book Prize shortlist.

Cerys Evans with the Polari First Book Prize shortlist.

Commenting on the Polari First Book Prize, judge and former winner John McCullough said: “The four novels, poetry collection and play on this year’s diverse shortlist include a trans perspective on Victorian London, a probing of Syrian sexualities under Assad and a modern magic realist fable. They explore the politics of shame, a world where lesbian couples can conceive without sperm and the teaching of same-sex relationships in schools. Here are six daring books that redefine the boundaries of queer writing.”

Commenting on The Polari Prize, author and judge Paul McVeigh said: “What a rich and diverse body of LGBT themed work we had to read for this inaugural Polari Book of the Year. It was hard to select just 6 for this shortlist from work of such high quality.”

Bernadine Evaristo with Polari Prize shortlist.

Bernadine Evaristo with Polari Prize shortlist.

Fellow author and judge on The Polari Prize, VG Lee, added: “Six very different and exciting voices make up the shortlist for The Polari Prize, taking us from the English countryside to Soviet Russia and Post 9/11 New York, a Brighton garden to music-making in Berwick-on-Tweed, and a teenage rites of passage towards selfhood. Any one of these books is a potential winner because each is perfect in its own right.”

Judges for the 2019 First Book prize are bestselling novelist Kiki Archer; writer and performer Cerys Evans; author and former Head of Literature & Spoken Word at Southbank Centre Rachel Holmes; and poet and former Polari First Book Prize winner John McCullough.

Judges for the new prize include critically-acclaimed author Bernardine Evaristo, CEO of the National Centre for Writing Chris Gribble, award-winning author and performer VG Lee, and playwright and former winner of The Polari First Book Prize Paul McVeigh.

The chair for both prizes is author and founder Paul Burston.

The winner will be announced 22 October 2019 at the Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival, in an event headlined by Tracey Thorn.


For all media enquiries please contact Ashton Bainbridge or Charlotte Tuxworth at FMcM Associates on 0207 405 7422 or email ashtonb@fmcm.co.uk or charlottet@fmcm.co.uk.

For more information on the Polari Prize, visit https://www.polarisalon.com/.