PolarI BOOK prize

Sara Collins, Amrou Al-Kadhi and Dustin Lance Black among authors shortlisted for the 2020 Polari Prizes  


A visionary exploration of trans identity, a re-interpretation of the gothic novel and a graphic guide to LGBTQ+ cultural history all feature on the shortlists for this year’s Polari Prize and Polari First Book Prize, announced on July 31 in a digital ceremony hosted by author and founder Paul Burston. 


The UK’s only award to celebrate LGBTQ+ literature, Polari marks its 10th birthday in 2020, and in this special anniversary year, Burston praised the exceptional writing talent, diverse styles and subject matter on show in this year’s shortlists. 


The announcement included tributes from prize supporters including former prize-winner Paul McVeigh, and sponsors Fiona McMorrough (CEO, FMcM Associates) and David Headley (Managing Director, D.H.H. Literary Agency). 


The winning books from both shortlists will be announced in October in association with the Southbank Centre. 



The Polari First Book Prize 2020 shortlist are: 


Queer Intentions: A Personal Journey through LGBTQ+ Culture by Amelia Abraham (Picador) 

Life As A Unicorn - A Journey From Shame to Pride and Everything In Between by Amrou 
Al-Kadhi (Fourth Estate) 


Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide- a graphic guide to lesbian and queer history 1950-2020 by Kate Charlesworth (Myriad Editions) 


Tell Me I’m Forgiven: The Story of Forgotten Stars Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney by
Alison Child (Tollington)  

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (Penguin) 

The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney by Okechukwu Nzelu (Dialogue Books) 







The Polari Prize 2020 shortlisted books are: 

Mama’s Boy: A Story from Our Americas by Dustin Lance Black (John Murray)


In At The Deep End by Kate Davies (The Borough Press) 

This Brutal House by Niven Govinden (Dialogue Books)


Blue Wallpaper by Robert Hamberger (Waterloo Press) 

Trans Power: Own Your Gender by Juno Roche (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)


Things We Say in the Dark by Kirsty Logan (Harvill Secker) 




Judges for the First Book Prize are Angela Chadwick, who won in 2019 for her dystopian thriller XX, alongside Rachel Holmes, Cerys Evans, and Keith Jarrett. 

Judges for the Polari Prize are inaugural prize winner Andrew McMillan, who won the 2019 award for his intimate poetry collection Playtime, alongside Suzi Feay, Chris Gribble, and VG Lee. 

Both prize panels are chaired by founder, journalist and author Paul Burston. 

The Polari First Book Prize is sponsored by award-winning arts communications company FMcM Associates, with the winner receiving a cheque for £1,000. The submission fee is £15.


The Polari Prize is sponsored by D H H Literary Agency, with the winner receiving a cheque for £2,000. The submission fee is £25.

Writers must be born or based in the UK and Ireland.



About the Polari First Book Prize

• The Polari First Book Prize was launched in 2011.

Previous winners include –

Angela Chadwick (XX)

Fiona Mozley (Elmet)

Saleem Haddad (Guapa)

Paul McVeigh (The Good Son)

Kirsty Logan (The Rental Heart)

Diriye Osman (Fairytales for Lost Children)

Mari Hannah (The Murder Wall)

John McCullough (The Frost Fairs)

James Maker (Autofellatio)

About the Polari Prize

• The Polari Prize was established in 2019 and awards an overall Book of the Year. It is open to writers at any stage of their career (except debuts). The 2019 prize was won by Andrew McMillan (Playtime).

• The Polari Prize is sponsored by D H H Literary Agency, with the winner receiving a cheque for £2,000.

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

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