By Georgia Appleyard and Conor Hodges
The 2023 longlists for the UK and Ireland’s only dedicated prize for LGBTQ+ literature, the Polari Prize, have been announced. This year’s longlists for the Polari Prize and Polari First Book Prize span a wealth of genres and forms, traversing memoir, poetry, historical fiction and thrillers. Author, activist and founder of the Polari Prizes, Paul Burston said that “the judges really had their work cut out. But these are longlists we can all be proud of. At a time when LGBTQ+ people are under attack, our stories matter more than ever.”
The Polari First Book Prize, first launched in 2011, is awarded annually to a debut author whose writing explores LGBTQ+ experiences, and previous winners include Kirsty Logan, Amrou Al- Kadhi, Mohsin Zaidi and last year’s winner Adam Zmith for his book Deep Sniff: A History of Poppers and Queer Futures.
The Polari Prize, founded in 2019, is also awarded for an overall book of the year, excluding debuts. Past 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 C+nto & Other Poems, an exploration of butch lesbian counterculture in London.
Both prize panels will be chaired by Burston, who will be joined by Rachel Holmes, Sophia Blackwell, Karen McLeod and Adam Zmith for the First Book Prize. VG Lee, Suzi Feay, Chris Gribble and Joelle Taylor will judge the Polari Prize.
The Polari First Book Prize Longlist
Love from the Pink Palace by Jill Nalder (Wildfire)
A Visible Man by Edward Enniful (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 Longlist
Fire Island by Jack Parlett (Granta Books)
A Working Class Family Ages Badly 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 School House by Sophie Ward (Corsair)
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield (Picador)
Rookie by Caroline Bird (Carcanet Press)
Cells by Gavin McCrea (Scribe)
ScreenAge by Fenton Bailey (Ebury Press)
Here Again Now by Okechukwu Nzelu (Dialogue Books)
The shortlist announcement will be made on 27 September at Printworks, Hastings with judges Sophia Blackwell and VG Lee. The Polari Prize winners will be revealed for the second year running at a ceremony at the British Library on 24 November.
To find out more about the Polari Prize and the longlisted works, head to @PolariPrize or polarisalon.com.