The ongoing war in Dafur, the Yorkshire Ripper murders and a dark and comical play which explores the life of a glamorous transsexual hooker are among the book themes on the Polari First Book Prize – described as the “strongest” in the prize’s history.
The award is for writers whose first book explores the LGBT experience.
Altogether 12 books have made the longlist, the majority published by independent presses, for a range of works including Steven Alcock’s coming of age tale Blood Relatives (Fourth Estate) set against the backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper murders, a collection of short stories exploring the ongoing war in Darfur by Michelle Green, Jebel Marra (Comma Press), Mark Lock’s detective story Dead Man’s Hand (Accent) and a dark and comical play which explores the life of a glamourous transsexual hooker in the throes of an emotion meltdown, Slap by Alexis Gregory (Team Angelica).
The other titles longlisted are: Arc by David Clarke, (Nine Arches Press), Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin (Inspired Quill), The Manservant by Michael Harwood (Kensington), Trans by Juliet Jacques (Verso) Different For Girls by Jacquie Lawrence, (Zitebooks), Physical by Andrew McMillan (Cape Poetry), The Good Son by Paul McVeigh (Salt) and Kiss & Make Up by Carl Stanley (Ignite).
Paul Burston, the chair of the judges, said: “Overall, the quality of submissions this year was exceptionally high. The judges were impressed by the diversity of voices and the wide range of work submitted – everything from memoir and first novels to poetry and a published play script. It was also encouraging to see more submissions reflecting the trans experience. This is probably the strongest long list we’ve ever had. Deciding on the short list will be extremely difficult.”
Any form of writing is eligible for the prize, with poetry, play scripts and non-fiction making the longlist. Judges including literary critic Suzi Feay, author and comedian VG Lee and writer and editor Alex Hopkins, who will reduce the list to a shortlist of up to six titles, revealed on July 28th, with the overall winner revealed at the London Literature Festival on 7th October at the Southbank Centre.
The prize was founded in 2011.