Fiona Mozley has won the Polari First Book Prize 2018 for her Man Booker-shortlisted debut, Elmet (John Murray).
Now in its eighth year, the prize is awarded annually to a writer whose first book explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction.
Prize founder and chair of the judges Paul Burston, said of Elmet, which tells of a family on the margins of society: “Strange, extraordinary and unique, Fiona Mozley’s story has a lyrical, ethereal quality and the feel of an old folk tale. Sometimes brutal but often beautiful, the novel expertly weaves together themes of ownership, greed and masculinity, pitching the gentle narrator Daniel against the brutality of his father. It’s a remarkable achievement and the judges were united in their admiration for it.”
Also shortlisted for the 2018 award were: Trans Mission by Alex Bertie (Wren & Rook), Mussolini’s Island by Sarah Day (Tinder Press), Pansy Boy by Paul Harfleet (Barbican Press), Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon (HQ), and Little Gold by Allie Rogers (Legend Press).
The prize was judged by Burston, alongside writers Rachel Holmes; Karen McLeod, VG Lee and Alexis Gregory.
An extended Polari Prize Tour will take in 20 dates, starting in November and running until October next year. The tour, funded by Arts Council England, will showcase the best emerging and established LGBT+ authors, poets and spoken word performers, reaching new destinations and LGBT+ scene spaces where people rarely engage with the arts. New locations for 2019 include Belfast, Milton Keynes, Morecambe and Mallorca, with a
centrepiece event at London's Heaven, the UK’s most famous gay club which turns 40 in 2019.
Burston, said: “For the past 11 years, Polari has played a unique role in supporting both new and established LGBT+ writers and spoken word performers. On this tour we will offer further support to many of the writers we’ve discovered over the years and provide opportunities for new writers to join the ‘Polari family’. The tour will include writing and performance workshops where we will work with emerging writers to hone their skills and provide opportunities for them to showcase their work.”
Polari First Book Prize partners with WH Smiths Travel, with shortlisted books displayed in Travel outlets nationwide. The Prize is sponsored by arts communications company FMcM.