PolarI BOOK prize

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NON-FICTION TRIUMPHS AT POLARI AWARDS AS MOHSIN ZAIDI AND DIANA SOUHAMI NAMED 2021 WINNERS

  • Criminal Barrister Mohsin Zaidi wins the Polari First Book Prize for his coming-of-age memoir A Dutiful Boy: A Memoir of a gay Muslim’s journey to acceptance

  • Award-winning writer Diana Souhami wins the overall Polari Prize for her latest foray into biography, No Modernism Without Lesbians

 

 

Mohsin Zaidi and Diana Souhami have tonight (Sat, Oct 30) been announced as the winners of the 2021 Polari Prizes, the UK’s only awards celebrating literature that explores the LGBTQ+ experience.

Mohsin Zaidi becomes the 11th winner of the Polari First Book Prize for his memoir A Dutiful Boy (Square Peg), which charts his journey growing up in a devout shia Muslim community within a poor pocket of east London.

Diana Souhami scooped the overall Polari Prize for non-debut talent for her biography No Modernism without Lesbians (Head of Zeus) about a singular group of women who fostered the birth of the Modernist movement. The winners were announced in a ceremony held at the Southbank Centre at the London Literature Festival.

A Guardian, New Statesman and GQ Book of the Year, Zaidi’s revelatory memoir is a moving and ultimately uplifting account of his experiences as a young boy in denial about his sexuality. Becoming the first person from his school to attend Oxford University, new experiences and encounters lead him on a path to self discovery, opening the door to live every part of his identity. Rachel Holmes, judge for the 2021 Polari First Book Prize, said of the book: ‘In these days of deliberately-stoked culture wars Mohsin Zaidi deftly engages us with the harsh, hilarious and inherently human realities of multiple identity. With painful honesty, he shows how no community of class, race, faith or queerness is immune from suspicion and occasional hatred of otherness, nor mercifully from love, laughter and acceptance.’

No Modernism Without Lesbians by renowned biographer Diana Souhami, is a bold, fresh new look

at the early twentieth century cultural canon through the lens of four lesbians: Sylvia Beach, Bryher, Natalie Barney, and Gertrude Stein. A trailblazing publisher, a patron of artists, a society hostess, and a groundbreaking writer, their lives and work became central to fostering the Modernist movement

in interwar Paris. Praising the winner, judge and CEO of the National Centre for Writing, Chris Gribble described the book as ‘richly researched, entertaining and hugely enjoyable’ offering ‘insight into the lives, passions and legacies of a group of outstanding women who together helped change the course of their culture. Souhami is a brilliant guide and this book a celebration, corrective and fillip all in one.’

 

 

BACKGROUND

Established in 2011, The Polari First Book Prize is awarded annually for a first book which explores the LGBTQ+ experience.

Established in 2019, The Polari Prize is awarded annually for a book by a a non-debut writer.

Our 2020 winners are Amrou Al-Kadhi and Kate Davies, who helped to judge this year’s prizes.

The remaining judges were Angela Chadwick, Rachel Holmes and Keith Jarrett (Polari First Book Prize) and Suzi Feay, Chris Gribble and VG Lee (Polari Prize)

Both panels are chaired by author, journalist and prize founder 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 and books published in the 12 months up to Feb 1, 2021.

Terms and Conditions

 

Any eligible book that is entered for the Prize shall not qualify unless its publisher/author agrees:

a. that in the case of The Polari Prize, the publisher/author will contribute a submission fee of £25 per title. That in the case of The Polari First Book Prize, the publisher/author will contribute a submission fee of £15 per title. This payment is to be made by BACS or PayPal.

b. to provide a short bio and high resolution author photo for each book submitted - no later than May 31, 2021.

c. to invite longlisted authors to the planned public shortlist event in July at the Southbank Centre and shortlisted authors to the planned award ceremony at the London Literature Festival in October, also at the Southbank Centre (dates TBC).

Publishers/authors will be responsible for travel costs and should do their best to ensure attendance.

d. that if an entered book should be longlisted, the publisher/author will provide recorded interviews/readings with the author to be used by the Polari Prize on either web or mobile platforms to promote the Prize.

e. that if an entered book should be shortlisted, the publisher will do their best to ensure the author’s attendance at the Prize award ceremony.

 

Eligibility 

 

a. Any full length novel, graphic novel, novella, biography, short story collection, memoir, non-fiction work or book of poetry written in English by a writer born or based in the UK and Ireland is eligible.

b. Writers must either identify as LGBTQ+ or explore LGBTQ+ themes and characters in the work submitted. In the case of The Polari First Book Prize, priority will be given to books exploring LGBTQ+ themes and characters. Writers working in all genres are actively encouraged.  

c. All entries must be submitted in print form. Where books exist only in e-book format, a bound printed copy will be accepted. E-books or PDFs will not be accepted.

d. All entries must be first in the United Kingdom or Ireland between February 2, 2020 and February 1, 2021, but may have been previously published outside the UK. Titles with simultaneous UK and US publications within this timeframe are eligible.

e. Self-published books are eligible for the Prize. Submissions must include a covering letter explaining why the work was self-published.

f. Authors / publishers are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure that all submitted titles meet all other requirements for the prize.

Entry of Books

 

There is no limit on the number of eligible titles entered by any one publisher / author.

 

The following steps should be taken for titles to be considered:

 

a. By April 12, 2021, Publishers should contact the chair of judges via email expressing their intention to submit.

The relevant submission fee of £25 per title or £15 per title (First Book Prize) should then be sent via BACS or PayPal.

The judges’ addresses will then be forwarded for submission.

b. By April 26, 2021, Publishers should ensure that all books have been received by the judges.

For further information, please email paulburston@btinternet.com with 'Polari Prize' as the subject.

The Polari First Book Prize 2021 shortlist

 

Swimming In The Dark - Tomas Jedrowski

Charred - Andreena Leeanne

 

Forced Out - Kevin Maxwell

 

Rainbow Milk - Paul Mendez

Shuggie Bain - Douglas Stuart 

A Dutiful Boy - Mohsin Zaidi

The Polari Prize 2021 shortlist

Dragman - Steven Appleby

 

The Air Year - Caroline Bird

 

The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle - Neil Blackmore

What Girls Do In The Dark - Rosie Garland

The Ministry of Guidance - Golnoosh Nour

No Modernism Without Lesbians - Diana Souhami


NOTES TO EDITORS:

About the Polari First Book Prize

• The Polari First Book Prize was launched in 2011.

• Previous winners include –

Amrou Al-Kadhi (Life As A Unicorn)

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 2020 prize was won by Kate Davies (In At The Deep End)

• 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 - 0207 405 7422 / ashtonb@fmcm.co.uk

PAST SHORTLISTS

 

POLARI FIRST BOOK PRIZE 2020  

Queer Intentions: A Personal Journey through LGBTQ+ Culture - Amelia Abraham


Life As A Unicorn - A Journey From Shame to Pride and Everything In Between - Amrou 
Al-Kadhi 


Sensible Footwear: A Girl’s Guide - Kate Charlesworth


Tell Me I’m Forgiven: The Story of Forgotten Stars Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney - 
Alison Child  

The Confessions of Frannie Langton - Sara Collins 

The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney - Okechukwu Nzelu 


POLARI PRIZE 2020

Mama’s Boy: A Story from Our Americas - Dustin Lance Black

In At The Deep End - Kate Davies

 

This Brutal House - Niven Govinden

 

Blue Wallpaper - Robert Hamberger

 

Things We Say In The Dark - Kirsty Logan

 

Trans Power - Juno Roche  

 

 

POLARI FIRST BOOK PRIZE 2019

 

 

XX - Angela Chadwick 

 

The House on Half Moon Street - Alex Reeve 

The Unexpected Love Objects of Dunya Noor - Rana Haddad  

 

Soho - Richard Scott  

 

Attend - West Camel

 

 

 

POLARI PRIZE 2019

 

 

Playtime - Andrew McMillan

 

Take Nothing With You - Patrick Gale 

 

A Simple Scale - David Llewellyn

 

Prodigal - Charles Lambert

 

Ghost Wall - Sarah Moss

 

 

 

POLARI FIRST BOOK PRIZE 2018

 

 

Elmet - Fiona Mozley 

 

Mussolini’s Island - Sarah Day 

 

Little Gold - Allie Rogers 

 

Trans Mission - Alex Bertie 

 

Pansy Boy - Paul Harfleet

 

Carnivore - Jonathan Lyon 

 

2017

Guapa - Saleem Haddad 

 

We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Fire - Jules Grant 

 

Straight Jacket - Matthew Todd

 

Jerusalem Ablaze - Orlando Ortega-Medina 

Expecting - Chitra Ramaswamy

 

Vegetarian Tigers of Paradise - Crystal Jeans

 

2016 

 

The Good Son - Paul McVeigh 

 

Physical - Andrew McMillan

 

Blood Relatives - Stevan Alcock

Trans - Juliet Jacques

 

Different for Girls -  Jacquie Lawrence

 

Sugar and Snails - Anne Goodwin 

 

2015

The Rental Heart - Kirsty Logan 

 

Self Portrait with The Happiness - David Tait

 

Straight Expectations - Julie Bindel 

 

Everything Must Go - LaJohn Joseph 

 

The Informant - Susan Wilkins

 

The Gift of Looking Closely - Al Brooks  

 

2014 

 

Fairytales for Lost Children -  Diriye Osman 

 

The Rubbish Lesbian - Sarah Westwood 

 

Petite Mort - Beatrice Hitchman 

God's Other Children - Vernal W. Scott

 

I Am Nobody's Nigger - Dean Atta

 

2013

 

The Murder Wall - Mari Hannah 

 

The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones - Jack Wolf 

 

Catching Bullets - Memoirs of a Bond Fan - Mark O’Connell

 

Tony Hogan Bought Me An Icecream Float Before He Stole My Ma -  Kerry Hudson 

 

The Sitar - Rebecca Idris 

 

2012

 

 

The Frost Fairs - John McCullogh 

 

Becoming Nancy - Terry Ronald 

 

Exit Through The Wound - North Morgan  

 

Modern Love - Max Wallis 

 

Grrl Alex - Alex Drummond

 

2011 

 

 

Autofellatio - James Maker 

 

Love, Hope & High Heels - Clare Campbell 

 

Homo Jihad - Timothy Graves 

 

Julian Corkle is a Filthy Liar - DJ Connell 

 

London Triptych - Jonathan Kemp