A self-published author will compete against books published by small and large presses for this year’s Polari First Book Prize.
The longlist for the prize, awarded to a writer whose first book explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction, was announced last night (20th July) at the Polari Literary Salon in London’s Southbank Centre.
Among the longlist are Al Brooks’ The Gift of Looking Closely, which Brooks has self-published. The book is about a woman coming to terms with the death of her mother.
Pan Macmillan’s Pan imprint has two books on the list – Matt Cain’s Shot Through the Heart, a Hollywood tale of romance and heartbreak, and The Informant by Susan Wilkins, a story of criminals and corrupt police officers.
Straight Expectations by Julie Bindel (Guardian Books) sees Bindel exploring what it means to be gay in today’s world.
Everything Must Go by LaJohn Joseph, published by US-based ITNA Press, follows an intersexual teen mother through a “future-queer world of magically changing locations, perversely transformed historical figures and oodles of spatter-violence”.
Kirsty Logan is shortlisted for her short story collection The Rental Heart (Salt). Some of the stories are retellings of classic tales, while others are described as modern-day fables.
Cheryl Martin’s Alaska (Crocus Books) is a blend of poetry, illustrations and animations, drawn together collaboratively with a broad mix of new and emerging artists.
The Other Ida by Amy Mason (Cargo Publishing) sees Ida Irons return home for her mother’s funeral for the first time in a number of years.
The Happiness by David Tait, published by The Poetry Business’s smith/doorstop books, is a poetry collection described as part self-portrait, part love affair.
Grit by Carey Wood-Duffy (Tollington Press) is a collection of Wood-Duffy’s poems, originally posted online.
Chair of the judges Paul Burston, said: “This year’s long list reflects the richness and diversity of LGBT literary talent. From commercial and literary fiction to short stories, poetry to political polemic, there’s something here to suit most tastes. The judges were impressed with the overall quality of submissions this year and face a difficult task deciding on a shortlist.”
Joining Burston on the judging panel are Rachel Holmes, author and former head of literature and spoken work at Southbank; literary critic Suzi Feay; writer, critic and broadcaster Bidisha; author and comedian VG Lee; and writer and editor Alex Hopkins.
Last year’s winner was Somali-British writer Diriye Osman for Fairytales for Lost Children.
Societe Generale sponsors the prize, while partners include WH Smiths Travel and Square Peg Media, publishers of g3 and Out In The City.
The shortlist of five books will be announced on 15th September, and will be displayed at selected WH Smiths travel outlets across the UK.
The overall winner will then be revealed at the London Literature Festival in October at the Southbank Centre.