Polari First Book Prize shortlist announced

Besi Besemar August 2, 2017

Polari Salon celebrates ten years of championing LGBT+ voices with UK-wide tour.

The shortlist for the Polari First Book Prize 2017 was announced last night at the Polari Literary Salon in London’s Southbank Centre.

The prize, now in its seventh year, is awarded annually to a writer whose first book explores the LGBT+ experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction.

This year’s shortlist brings together three male and three female writers hailing from Kuwait to Cardiff, whose eclectic body of work offers a range of perspectives on the LGBT experience.

The Polari First Book shortlist 2017 is:

♦ ExpectingChitra Ramaswamy (Saraband)

♦ GuapaSaleem Haddad (Europa Editions UK)

♦ We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By FireJules Grant (Myriad)

♦ Straight Jacket  – Matthew Todd (Bantam)

♦ The Vegetarian Tigers of ParadiseCrystal Jeans (Honno)

♦ Jerusalem AblazeOrlando Ortega-Medina (Cloud Lodge)

The 2017 shortlist covers a variety of genre and form including crime fiction, short story and memoir – from Crystal Jean’s 1990s coming of age tale and barrister-turned-author Jules Grant’s female gang thriller, to Saleem Haddad’s depiction of gay life in a post-Arab Spring dictatorship and Chitra Ramaswamy’s refreshingly different meditation on pregnancy.

Chair of judges Paul Burston, said: “We are delighted with the breadth and strength of the work this year, which spans such a broad range of countries, cultures and experiences. Choosing six books from such a strong long list was extremely difficult. But in the end the judges came up with a shortlist we all agreed upon, and one which reflects the ethos of the prize. These six books are exceptionally well written and wonderfully diverse. Together they contain a wealth of insights about what it means to be LGBT today.”

Judges for the 2017 prize include:

♦ Paul Burston: author, journalist, host of Polari Literary Salon and chair of the panel
♦ Rachel Holmes: author and former Head of Literature and Spoken Word at the Southbank
♦ Suzi Feay: literary critic
♦ VG Lee: author and comedian and
♦ Alexis Gregory: playwright, actor and producer

The overall winner will be revealed at the London Literature Festival on Friday, October 13 at the Southbank Centre.

The shortlist announcement at Southbank coincides with a bumper series of events as the Polari Salon celebrates 10 years of championing LGBT voices, with the largest ever LBGT literary tour undertaken in the UK.

Beginning in July, it will showcase over 80 writers, including Val McDermid, Matthew Todd and Paul Flynn.

Polari 10th anniversary tour. Key dates include:

♦ September 13 – Printworks, Hastings

♦ September 15 – Lewisham Library

♦ September 17 – The Place Theatre, Bedford

♦ September 22– Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh

♦ October 8 – Birmingham Literature Festival

♦ October 20 – Marlborough Theatre, Brighton

♦ December 2 – City Library, Newcastle

For more information on the tour. click here: