In England, the Polari Prize Names Its 2022 Winners

In News by Porter Anderson

The LGBTQ Polari Prize competition has named its winners, including a new honor in children’s writing and illustration.

From left, the 2022 Polari Prize winners are Adam Zmith, Joelle Taylor, Ian Eagleton, and illustrator James Mayhew

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Zmith, Taylor, Eagleton, and Mayhew
In London this evening (November 15), the three winners of the 2022 cycle of the Polari Prizes program have been named, and the ceremony has been held at the British Library–a first for the prize, organizers of which say the British Library is now the program’s new home.

The award program’s organizers say it’s the only such program in the United Kingdom specifically dedicated to LGBTQ culture. Both titles named as winners this year are said “underscore the significance of [clubs] in providing a safe space in which the LGBTQ+ community can be their true selves.

“These books explore what those true selves might be and how, even within the LGBTQ+, one might feel marginalized.”

Polari First Book Prize Winner 2022

Jurors for the First Book Prize are author Rachel Holmes, poets Keith Jarrett and Sophia Blackwell and the 2021 prize winner Mohsin Zaidi, who won for his memoir A Dutiful Boy. The program’s founder, Paul Burston, chairs this jury.

The winner of the debut award, the First Book Prize, receives a check for £1,000 (US$1,186) from sponsor FMcM Associates.

Polari Prize Winner 2022

Jurors for the Polari Prize are author VG Lee; literary critic Suzi Feay; Chris Gribble of the National Centre for Writing; and 2021 prize winner Diana Souhami, who won for No Modernism Without Lesbians. Again, Burston chairs this panel.

The winner of the main prize receives a check for £2,000 (US$2,372) from the program’s sponsor, the D H H Literary Agency.

In addition to these more established awards, a new honor for young readers’ literature has been added. This is the inaugural outing for this one.

Polari Children’s and YA Prize 2022

Nen and the Lonely Fisherman by Ian Eagleton and James Mayhew (Owlet Press)

Based on information provided by the prize program’s public relations company, there appears to be only one juror for this new prize, Jodie Lancet-Grant.

In a prepared statement, Lancet-Grant is quoted, saying, “We are delighted that Nen and the Lonely Fisherman has won the inaugural children’s and YA category of the Polari Prize. The judges agreed that this book does something important and radical by centering a queer love story in a picture book for young children.

“The story is innovative and moving, and the artwork truly stunning.”

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 191st awards-related report in the 206 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards is here, more on the United Kingdom’s market is here, and more on LGBTQ issues and publishing is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing 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 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.