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2023 Polari Prize Shortlists Celebrate Queer Stories that “Entertain, Enrich and Inspire”

Here at The Publishing Post, we've been fans of The Polari Prize for a number of years. The prize is the UK and Ireland’s only dedicated LGBTQ+ book prize, founded by author and activist, Paul Burston. In 2016, Paul was featured in the British Council’s Global List of "33 visionary people promoting freedom equality and LGBT rights around the world."

The Polari First Book Prize was launched in 2011 and previous winners include Fiona Mozley, Saleem Haddad, Paul McVeigh, Kirsty Logan and Diriye Osman. The Polari Prize, founded in 2019, was awarded to Andrew McMillan in its inaugural year, and to Kate Davies in 2020, Diana Souhami in 2021 and Joelle Taylor in 2022.

The Polari First Book Prize

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 John McCullough, Kirsty Logan, Diriye Osman (the first person of colour to win, in 2014), Amrou Al-Kadhi, Mohsin Zaidi and last year’s winner Adam Zmith, for his keenly-researched history of poppers, Deep Sniff.

The Shortlist:

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

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

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

  • A Visible Man by Edward Enninful (Bloomsbury)

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

  • The Whale Tattoo by Jon Ransom (Muswell Press)

Joelle Taylor, Polari Book Prize judge, said: “This year’s Polari Prize shortlist reflects the complexities of contemporary LGBT+ lives in work that is nuanced, expansive, intimate and strange. History, futurism, crime, poetic memoir, and social commentary collide to create rich narratives that rewrite us even as we read.”

The Polari Book Prize

The Polari Book Prize 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 remarkable collection C+nto & Othered Poems which explores butch lesbian counterculture in London.

The Shortlist:

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

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

  • Here Again Now by Okechukwu Nzelu (Dialogue Books)

  • Fire Island by Jack Parlett (Granta Books)

  • Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador)

  • The Schoolhouse by Sophie Ward (Corsair)

Chris Gribble, Polari Book Prize judge, said: “This year’s Polari Prize shortlist lays out the joys, challenges and complexities of contemporary and historical LGBTQ+ lives in a brilliant array of fiction and non-fiction that will leave no one in any doubt that our stories are worthy of their places on every book shelf and in every library.

The Polari Prize will return to the British Library for a second year for the winner ceremony on Friday 24th November 2023. For further details on the prize, visit


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