Angela Chadwick and Andrew McMillan have won the 2019 Polari Prizes, celebrating work that explores the LGBT experience.
Chadwick’s highly acclaimed, dystopian thriller XX (Dialogue Books) picked up the £1,000 Polari First Book Prize for best debut, whilst McMillan’s intimate poetry collection, Playtime (Cape Poetry), scooped the inaugural £2,000 Polari Prize beating other shortlisted authors including Kate Bradbury, Patrick Gale and Sarah Moss.
XX follows the story of two women who take part in a ground-breaking clinical trial that enables two women to have a female baby. Commenting on the book, judge and author Rachel Holmes called it “an exquisitely plotted page-turner”, and fellow judge Cerys Evans described it as “an essential read for our times.”
Playtime is the much-anticipated follow-up to McMillan’s debut collection Physical, shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize and winner of the Guardian First Book Award. Judge and Booker-winning novelist Bernadine Evaristo said of McMillan “he is exploring coming of age, masculinity and sexuality in ways that move and surprise. His poetic voice is completely natural and free, with no pretence or attempts to obfuscate meaning, yet the work has emotional complexity, power and depth.”
Fellow judge Paul McVeigh described Playtime as “beautiful, courageously honest and disarmingly vulnerable. Playtime does what the best writing does, articulates unflinchingly what it is to be human.”
The winners were announced by judges Evaristo and former winner John McCullough at a ceremony held at the Southbank Centre as part of the London Literature Festival tonight (Tuesday 22nd October). Chris Gribble, c.e.o. of the National Centre for Writing, author and performer V G Lee and novelist Kiki Archer were also on the judging panels with author and founder Paul Burston chairing both prizes.