Kate Davies and Amrou Al-Kadhi win 2020 Polari Prizes

Kate Davies and Amrou Al-Kadhi win 2020 Polari Prizes

Kate Davies and Amrou Al-Kadhi have been announced as the winners of the 2020 Polari Prizes, the UK’s only award celebrating literature that explores the LGBTQ+ experience.

Davies (pictured) scooped the Polari Prize for non-debut talent for her "frank and funny" novel In At The Deep End (Borough Press), while Al-Kadhi becomes the 10th winner of the Polari First Book Prize for their "remarkably honest, funny and moving" memoir Life As A Unicorn (Fourth Estate).

Davies’ work, "exploring sex, love and self-understanding", triumphed on a shortlist that included Dustin Lance Black, Juno Roche, Niven Govinden and Robert Hamberger. Announcing the winner, poet and judge Andrew McMillan described it as an “open, generous, bold and unashamedly commercial novel that deals quite rarely with lesbian love, lesbian sex and lesbian eroticism.” Davies will receive a cheque for £2,000 from prize sponsors D H H Literary Agency.

Al-Kadhi’s memoir tells of the author’s journey from "god-fearing Muslim boy" enraptured with their mother, to a vocal, queer drag queen estranged from their family. Commenting on the winner, the 2020 judges said the memoir offered a “unique perspective at the intersection of gender, race and sexuality whilst being highly emotive and deeply moving.” It becomes the 10th winner of the Polari First Book Prize following in the footsteps of former winners including Fiona Mozley, Kirsty Logan, Paul McVeigh and Mari Hannah. Al- Kadhi will receive £1,000 in prize money. 

The winners were announced in a digital ceremony in association with the Southbank Centre, hosted by author and founder Paul Burston. He described this year’s winning titles as “exceptionally good reads — original, genre-defying, hugely entertaining and unapologetically queer.”