Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novelist and York bookseller Fiona Mozley is in the running for the Polari First Book Prize 2018, competing with authors including 23-year-old transgender YouTuber Alex Bertie and historical writer Sarah Day.
The Prize, which is awarded annually to a writer whose first book explores the LGBT experience, announced its shortlist on Tuesday night (24th July) at London’s Southbank Centre.
Mozley is shortlisted for her Yorkshire-set rural noir Elmet (John Murray), a lyrical commentary on contemporary English society and one family’s precarious place in it. The book was John Murray assistant editor Becky Walsh's first ever acquisition and Mozely's first ever completed story, and went on to make Mozley the youngest contender for 2017's Man Booker Prize.
Also from Hachette's stables, Day is shortlisted for Mussolini’s Island (Tinder Press, part of Headline). The literary historical novel explores the persecution of gay men in fascist Italy in the 1930s with its story based on real events in Italy's past where such men were branded "a sexual aberration", expelled from their homes in Catania in Sicily and exiled to the island of San Domino. Bertie meanwhile competes with his account of coming to grips with his identity, exploring the struggles and victories of a young transgender man, in Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard (Wren & Rook, the non-fiction imprint of Hachette Children's Books).
From HarperCollins, writer and musician Jonathan Lyon, 25, appears on the shortlist for his controversial literary thriller Carnivore (HQ) which, billed as "Dorian Gray meets Trainspotting", was in part inspired by the author’s own chronic illness.
Independent publishers' titles round off the shortist with Allie Rogers' novel Little Gold (Legend Press), set in Brighton in the 1980s, and Paul Harfleet's Pansy Boy (Barbican), an illustrated picture-book and autobiography of rhyming couplets and vivid graphic art.
Chair of judges Paul Burston said: "Faced with such a strong, diverse longlist, the judges had a difficult time deciding on this year’s shortlist. But in the end we agreed on these six books, which we feel reflect the aims of the prize and the range and quality of submissions. In what has been a great year for new LGBT+ writing, this is a shortlist we can all be proud of."
The overall winner will be revealed at the London Literature Festival on 20th October at the Southbank Centre.