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polari prize 2023 long lists

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

POLARI PRIZE LONG LISTS 2023


TRAVIS ALABANZA, JULIA ARMFIELD, EDWARD ENNINFUL, JUNO ROCHE, DOUGLAS STUART, EMMA STYLES AND SOPHIE WARD MAKE THE 2023 POLARI PRIZE LONG LISTS

PRIZES ARE OPEN TO WRITERS BORN OR BASED IN THE UK AND IRELAND, WITH BOOKS PUBLISHED IN THE 12 MONTHS UP TO FEB 1, 2023 

Celebrating a wealth of genres and forms, including memoir, poetry, historical fiction and gripping thrillers, the UK and Ireland’s only dedicated prize for LGBTQ+ literature has announced it’s 2023 longlists for the Polari Prize and Polari First Book Prize.


The prizes are sponsored by award-winning literary PR consultancy FMcM Associates and the D H H Literary Agency.


The Polari Prize and Polari First Book Prize longlists were announced on Friday 21st July at Polari in Heaven in London.

This year’s longlists feature notable debuts and highly acclaimed titles including the Sunday Times bestselling memoir A Visible Man by Edward Enninful (Bloomsbury), the Orwell prize-winning The New Life by Tom Crewe (Chatto & Windus) and Travis Alabanza’s None of the Above (Canongate). A dash of historical fiction appears across both longlists including the previously mentioned debut from Crewe as well as Patrick Gale’s Mother’s Boy (Tinder Press) as well as taut and gripping crime thrillers such as No Country for Girls by Emma Style (Sphere) and The Schoolhouse by Sophie Ward (Corsair). As for poetry, Caroline Bird presents work composed over two decades in Rookie (Carcanet Press) while poet Seán Hewitt turns his hand to memoir with All Down Darkness Wide (Jonathan Cape).

Prize founder, Paul Burston, said: “This year’s Polari Prize long lists demonstrate a diverse range of LGBTQ literary talent, writing across many different genres and from a wide variety of perspectives. The volume and quality of submissions was extremely high this year, and the judges really had their work cut out. But these are long lists we can all be proud of. At a time when LGBTQ people are under attack, our stories matter more than ever. These are our stories. Read them. Learn from them. Celebrate them.”

THE POLARI FIRST BOOK PRIZE LONG LIST

• Love from the Pink Palace by Jill Nalder • (Wildfire)

• A Visible Man by Edward Enninful • (Bloomsbury)

• The Whale Tattoo by Jon Ransom • (Muswell Press)

• Whatever Happened to Queer Happiness? by Kevin Brazil • (Influx Press)

• Rising of the Black Sheep by Livia Kojo Alour ​• (Polari Press)

• The New Life by Tom Crewe • (Chatto & Windus)

• None of the Above by Travis Alabanza • (Canongate Books)

• Orpheus Builds a Girl by Heather Parry • (Gallic Books)

• In Her Jaws by Rosamund Taylor • (Banshee Press)

• Is This Love? by CE Riley • (Serpent’s Tail)

• No Country for Girls by Emma Styles • (Sphere)

• Some Integrity by Padraig Regan • (Carcanet Press)


THE POLARI PRIZE LONG LIST

• Fire Island by Jack Parlett • (Granta Books)

• Roam by Juno Roche • (Dialogue Books)

• Other People Manage by Ellen Hawley • (Swift Press)

• All Down Darkness Wide by Seán Hewitt • (Jonathan Cape)

• Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart • (Picador)

• Mother’s Boy by Patrick Gale • (Tinder Press)

• The Schoolhouse by Sophie Ward • (Corsair)

• Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield • (Picador)

• Rookie by Caroline Bird • (Carcanet Press)

• Cells by Gavin McCrea • (Scribe)

• Screen Age by Fenton Bailey • (Ebury Press)

• Here Again Now by Okechukwu Nzelu • (Dialogue Books)

The Polari Children’s and YA Prize will return in 2024, as a bi-annual award for books for children and young adults with LGBTQ+ themes or representation. 

Established in 2011, 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, Amrou Al-Kadhi, Diriye Osman, Mohsin Zaidi, and last year’s winner Adam Zmith, for his his keenly-researched history of poppers, Deep Sniff. 

Established in 2019, 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), Diana Souhami (No Modernism Without Lesbians) and last year’s winner Joelle Taylor for her electrifying poetry collection exploring the UK’s underground lesbian culture, C+nto and Othered Poems. 

This year’s shortlists will be announced on September 27, 2023 at Polari on Sea in Hastings. See Events.

The winner’s Prize ceremony will once again return to the British Library, taking place on November 24, 2023. 

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, poet Sophia Blackwell, author Karen McLeod and 2022 prize winner Adam Zmith. 


Now in its fifth year, the Polari Prize will continue to be sponsored by D H H 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 2022 prize winner Joelle Taylor. Both prize panels are chaired by founder, journalist and author Paul Burston. 


Notes to Editors

Now well established within the literary calendar, the Polari Prizes grew out of the Polari literary salon, which was founded in a room above a Soho bar in 2007 by novelist and activist Paul Burston. From humble beginnings, the Salon has gone from strength to strength, drawing hundred-strong crowds during its 13 year residency at London’s Southbank Centre as well as its regular tours of the UK, funded by Arts Council England. 


As the Polari salon grows with new prizes and initiatives, the country-wide residencies continue to flourish, with regular events in Hastings and Manchester. The most recent Polari events took place at Polari at Huddersfield Literature Festival on March 25 with Joelle Taylor, Adam Lowe and Will Belshah, Polari at Bath Festival on May 17 with Paul Burston, Joelle Taylor and Miss Hope Springs and Bradford Literature Festival on July 2 with Nikita Gill, John McCullough and Juno Roche. 


About the Polari Prize

The awards have been covered in a wide range of publications including Metro, the Guardian, the i, Irish Independent, Press Association, Gay Times, Winq and BBC Radio, The London Magazine, Wasafiri and elsewhere.


The Polari First Book Prize was launched in 2011. Previous winners include Fiona Mozley, Saleem Haddad, Paul McVeigh, Kirsty Logan, Diriye Osman, John McCullough, Mari Hannah, James Maker, Angela Chadwick, Amrou Al-Kadhi, Mohsin Zaidi and Adam Zmith.

The Polari Prize, founded in 2019, was awarded to Andrew McMillan in its inaugural year, to Kate Davies in 2020, Diana Souhami in 2021 and Joelle Taylor in 2022.

About Paul Burston

Paul Burston is an author and founder of the Polari Literary Salon and the Polari Prizes.

A founding editor of Attitude magazine, he has written for many publications including the Guardian, Time Out, The Times and The Sunday Times.

He is the author of several non-fiction books, the editor of two short story collections and the author of six novels, including Lovers and Losers, which was shortlisted for the Stonewall Award.

In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world.”

His latest novel is The Closer You Get, published in 2019 by Orenda Books.

His memoir We Can Be Heroes was published by Little A on June 1, 2023.

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