UK’s Polari Book Prize Announce 2019 Longlists at London’s Southbank Centre

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With two awards in place this year, London’s Polari Prizes announces its longlists and honors writers ‘whose work explores the LGBT experience.’

At London’s Southbank Centre. Image – iStockphoto: Peter Sterling

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘Books That Tell the Truth’
This evening (June 10) at London’s Southbank Centre, opening the ninth year of the Polari Prize’s honors for writers “whose work explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction, or nonfiction.”

This year for the first time, the Polari is to recognize established authors. The parallel Polari First Book Prize will continue the program’s original mission, the recognition of new writers.

In a prepared statement for the news media, the program’s founding jury chair Paul Burston is quoted, saying, “The books on this year’s longlists celebrate LGBT lives in their many varieties.

“At a time when reactionary forces are on the rise and political battles won many years ago are being fought all over again, books that tell the truth about who we really are serve a powerful purpose.

“Stories about trans lives and gender identities feature heavily. There are also books about the changing landscape of our collective experiences, from gay shame to equal marriage. Together these longlists represent the very best in emerging and established LGBT literary talent today.”

Jurors for the traditional Polari First Book Prize this year are novelist Kiki Archer; writer and performer Cerys Evans; author and Southbank Centre former head of literature Rachel Holmes; and poet and former Polari First Book Prize winner John McCullough.

Jurors for the new prize offering are author Bernardine Evaristo; National Centre for Writing CEO Chris Gribble; author and performer VG Lee; and playwright and former winner of The Polari First Book Prize Paul McVeigh.

Shortlist announcements for this program are expected July 26 with winner announcements to be made in October during the London Literature Festival.

2019 Polari Prize Longlists

Polari First Book Prize 2019 Longlist

  • The House on Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve (Raven)
  • XX by Angela Chadwick (Dialogue Books)
  • The Unexpected Love Objects of Dunya Noor by Rana Haddad (Hoopoe)
  • Soho by Richard Scott (Faber & Faber)
  • Attend by West Camel (Orenda Books)
  • Disbanded Kingdom by Polis Loizou (Cloud Lodge)
  • Not Just A Tomboy by Caspar J Baldwin (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
  • Next Lesson by Chris Woodley (Aurora Metro Books)
  • Queer Sex by Juno Roche (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
  • Out of the Woods by Luke Turner (Orion)
  • Visceral by RJ Arkhipov (Zuleika)
  • Yes You Are Trans Enough by Mia Violet (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)

Polari Prize 2019 Longlist

  • Drapetomania by John R Gordon (Team Angelica)
  • The Other Woman by Sophia Blackwell (Burning Eye)
  • Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale (Headline)
  • The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech (Orenda Books)
  • A Simple Scale by David Llewellyn (Seren)
  • Making Oscar Wilde by Michéle Mendelsshon (Oxford University Press)
  • Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen (Orion)
  • Playtime by Andrew McMillan (Penguin)
  • Prodigal by Charles Lambert (Gallic)
  • The Bumblebee Flies Anyway by Kate Bradbury (Bloomsbury)
  • Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss (Granta)
  • The AQI by David Tait (Smith / Doorstop)
Background on the Polari Prizes

The Polari First Book Prize was launched in 2011. Last year’s shortlisted books were displayed at WHSmith Travel outlets in the UK and the prize was supported by a
Polari national tour funded by Arts Council England. The Polari First Book Prize is sponsored by FMcM Associates. The winner is to receive a check for £1,000 (US$1,269).

Paul Burston

The Polari Prize, new this year, awards an overall Book of the Year. It’s open to writers at any stage of their career, except debuts. This prize is sponsored by DHH Literary Agency. The winner is to receive a check for £2,000 (US$2,538).

Both awards are based in the Polari Literary Salon program, which at times has worked with the London Book Fair’s London Book & Screen Week progamming.

The salon started its work in 2007 in Soho. Events are now held monthly at the Southbank Centre. The salon tours its programs with funding from Arts Council England.

In 2016, the British Council named Polari founder Paul Burston as one of “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality, and LGBT rights around the world.” Burston’s newest book, The Closer I Get, was published last month by Orenda Books.

The longlist announcements for the UK’s Polari Prize program follow by about a week the winners’ announcements of another English-language LGBTQ+ literature awards program, the Lambda Literary Awards in New York City.


More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for trade and indie authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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