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Polari Prize 2022

Polari announces new prize for children’s and YA books and new home at the British Library

The Polari literary salon – host to the UK’s only book prizes for emerging and established LGBTQ+ writers – has opened its call to publishers for this year’s awards, including a brand new award for children’s and YA literature.

The Polari First Book Prize is awarded annually to a debut book that explores the LGBTQ+ experience, and has previously been won by writers including Kirsty Logan, Diriye Osman, Amrou Al- Kadhi and last year’s winner Mohsin Zaidi for his coming-of-age memoir A Dutiful Boy. The Polari Prize also awards an overall book of the year, excluding debuts, and previous winners include Andrew McMillan (Playtime), Kate Davies (In At the Deep End) and last year’s winner Diana Souhami for No Modernism Without Lesbians.

In November 2022, to mark the salon’s 15th birthday and the 11th anniversary of the Polari Prize, it will move to its new home at the British Library. The British Library will also collaborate with Polari on upcoming events. 

Paul Burston, founder of the Polari Literary Salon and Polari Prizes said: ‘As Polari enters its 15th year, the salon continues to go from strength to strength, constantly developing new audiences and showcasing emerging and established LGBTQ+ literary talent across the UK and beyond. Moving to the British Library will enable us to flourish and grow even further. Adding a new category to the Polari Prize awards reconfirms our position as the UK’s leading book awards for LGBTQ+ writing. 2022 promises to be a hugely exciting year.’

This year, the Polari Salon introduces a new award for children’s and YA literature, shining a spotlight on growing range of wonderful books for children and young adults with LGBTQ+ themes or representation.

The prize will cover anything published in the 24 months up to February 1, 2022 and is open to any children’s or Young Adult book. It will be sponsored by the inclusive children’s books company, Little Box of Books, with a £1000 prize awarded to the winner.

The judges for the inaugural Polari Children’s and YA Prize are Sam Sedgeman – co-author of Nibbies Children’s Book of the Year award-winning Adventures on Trains series, and co-host of the Down the Rabbit Hole children’s books radio show and podcast; Dr Liz Chapman – seen on twitter as @lgbtlibrarian – a children’s librarian, associate lecturer in education, and researcher on LGBTQ+ literature and libraries; Lynsey Pollard – Founder of Little Box of Books and Zoey Dixon, chair of the Youth Libraries Group London. The prize will be chaired by author of The Pirate Mums, Jodie Lancet-Grant.

Jodie said: ‘If we are to create a truly tolerant society, we need to teach our children that anyone can be the hero of the story, whatever their sexuality, gender, or family set up. I started writing books featuring families with same sex parents because I could find so few on the shelves. Thankfully, that’s begun to change in recent years, and I’m delighted to be working with Paul and the Polari team. They’ve done an amazing job at promoting queer writing for adults, and I believe it’s time we do the same for books for children.’

Leading literary PR consultancy FMcM will continue its sponsorship of the Polari First Book Prize, with the winner receiving a cheque for £1,000. This year the prize continues its tradition of having the winner of the previous year on each judging panel with the remaining judges being made up of a distinguished group of authors and industry professionals.

For the Polari First Book Prize the judges are author Rachel Holmes, poets Keith Jarrett and Sophia Blackwell and 2021 prize winner Mohsin Zaidi.

This year’s prize is open to books published in the 12 months up to February 1, 2022.

Now in its fourth year, The Polari Prize will continue to be sponsored by DHH Literary Agency, with the winner receiving a cheque for £2,000.

The judging panel includes author VG Lee, literary critic Suzi Feay, Chris Gribble of the National Centre for Writing and 2021 prize winner Diana Souhami.

This year’s prize is open to books published in the 12 months up to February 1, 2022.

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

The deadline for submissions is Monday, May 2, 2022.

Longlists will be announced later this year, with further programming information and details about events at the British Library still to be announced.

For all media enquiries please contact Kealey Ridgen or Chloe Rose at FMcM Associates on or

For submissions, please contact Paul Burston at with the words 'Polari Prize' in the subject field.

For submissions to the Children’s and YA prize, please contact Jodie Lancet-Grant at with the words 'Polari Prize' in the subject field.

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