Paul McVeigh wins the Polari First Book Prize 2016

Besi Besemar October 8, 2016

web-200Belfast author Paul McVeigh takes Polari First Book Prize 2016 with his novel The Good Son and Juliet Jacques is runner-up with her memoir Trans.


Now in its sixth year, the Polari First Book Prize celebrates the very best debut books that explore the LGBT experience, whether through poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction.

Paul McVeigh
Paul McVeigh

Paul McVeigh’s funny and frightening story of a young boy navigating the troubles of 1980s Northern Ireland triumphed over an extremely strong shortlist of first books, including Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin; Different for Girls by Jacquie Lawrence; Blood Relatives by Stevan Alcock; Physical by Andrew McMillan and Trans by Juliet Jacques.

Following an extremely high standard of work in contention for this year’s prize, the judges decided to appoint a runner up for the first time, recognising Juliet Jacques’ Trans, which they described as “an exceptional book in so many ways.”

Named one of the Best Books of 2015 by both ELLE and The Reading Agency, The Good Son was chosen for City Reads 2016, shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award 2016 and The Guardian Not The Booker Prize 2016, and was a finalist for The People’s Book Prize 2016. The novel is a deeply moving, intelligent and humorous coming-of-age story set against the political unrest of Northern Ireland.

Prize judges included chair Paul Burston, author, journalist and host of Polari literary salon; Rachel Holmes, author and former Head of Literature & Spoken Word at Southbank Centre; literary critic, Suzi Feay; author and comedian, VG Lee; and writer and editor Alex Hopkins.

Paul Burston
Paul Burston

Chair of the judges Paul Burston, said:  “This year, each shortlisted titled successfully showcased the exceptional skill and scope of work within the LGBT literary community. However, the judges were particularly drawn to the fresh and unique narrative voice of McVeigh’s Mickey Donnelly – we really felt as if we knew him. The author’s handling of the young narrator is expertly done and strikes the perfect balance between comedy and pathos. Paul is an incredibly accomplished storyteller and we’re delighted to present him with the Prize for 2016.”

Born in Belfast, Paul McVeigh’s career began as a playwright and director. He founded a theatre company, which won a Fringe First at the Edinburgh Festival. He has also written comedy shows and stand-up. His short stories have been published in literary journals and anthologies, read on BBC Radio 5 and commissioned by BBC Radio 4. The Good Son is his first novel.

Polari First Book Prize partners include WH Smiths Travel and Square Peg Media. The Prize is sponsored by FMcM Associates an award winning arts communications company.