Polari First Book Prize



Tuesday 23 February, 2016: Submissions are now open for this year’s Polari First Book Prize, which celebrates the very best debut books that explore the LGBT experience, whether through poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction. Deadline for submissions is 1 May, 2016.

Books must have been published in English by a writer born or resident in the UK. Books must have been published in the 12 months up to 1 February 2016. Self-published works in both print and digital formats are also eligible. Works should be submitted by the publisher, while self-published works should be submitted together with a letter explaining why the book was self-published.

Now into its sixth year, the longlist will be announced at the Southbank Centre on Wednesday 1 June, followed by the shortlist announcement on Thursday 28 July.

Judges for the 2016 prize include author, journalist and host of Polari literary salon, chair Paul Burston; Rachel Holmes, author and former Head of Literature & Spoken Word at the Southbank; literary critic Suzi Feay; author VG Lee; and journalist Alex Hopkins.

Last year’s winner was Glasgow-based author Kirsty Logan with her critically acclaimed debut short story collection, The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales, with shortlisted titles including Straight Expectations by Julie Bindel; The Gift of Looking Closely by Al Brookes; Everything Must Go by LaJohn Joseph; Self-portrait with The Happiness by David Tait; and The Informant by Susan Wilkins.

The prize enjoys a strategic partnership with WH Smiths, who support the shortlisted books and winner throughout their stores UK-wide. Meanwhile, award winners are offered headline slots in the Polari Literary Salon event series, which includes an expansive national tour, in addition to events with Huddersfield Literature festival, Bradford Literature Festival and Mayfest Word Festival in Aberdeen.

Chair of the judges Paul Burston, said: “The 2015 shortlist and winner demonstrated the enormous scope of the prize and represented the diverse and unique voices at the heart of the LGBT experience. We couldn’t be more pleased to open submissions for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize; each year the prize goes from strength to strength and we are excited to see where this year’s entries take us.”

For further details of how to submit a book for this year’s prize, please email


Notes to editors:

•Polari literary salon began in 2007 in the upstairs room of a bar in Soho. Events are now held monthly at the Southbank Centre and regularly sell out.

•In 2013, Polari was named ‘LGBT Cultural Event of the Year’ in the Co-op Respect Loved By You Awards.

•Last year’s shortlisted books were displayed at WH Smiths Travel outlets nationwide, and the prize supported by a Polari national tour, funded by Arts Council England.

•Polari Literary Salon dates:

Saturday 5 March 2016 – Polari Up North at Huddersfield Literature Festival. With Kirsty Logan, winner of The Polari First Book Prize 2015

Friday 27 May 2016 – Polari at Bradford Literature Festival

Sunday 29 May 2016 – Polari at Mayfest Aberdeen

Tuesday 31 May 2016 – Polari at WOW Festival, Worthing

Wednesday 1 June 2016 – Polari First Book Prize longlist announcement, Southbank Centre

Thursday 28 July 2016 – Polari First Book Prize shortlist announcement, Southbank Centre

Friday 7 October 2016 – Polari First Book Prize winner announcement, London Literature Festival, Southbank Centre

•Terms and Conditions for WH Smith sales:

1.   All titles bought for sale in WH Smith Travel stores will be purchased at a cost price/discount agreed by publisher and the buyer prior to in store placement.

2. All copies are bought sale or return and are returnable from 3 months after the purchase date.

3. Ideally each title should be stocked at a book distributors (eg: Gardners, Bertrams, Orca Book Services, Turnaround, Central Book Services) which will be able to ship stock direct to retailer.

4.  WH Smith Travel reserve the right to not stock any particular title(s).

Press contacts

Christopher Bone / Alice Dewing

FMcM Associates

chrisb@fmcm.co.uk / aliced@fmcm.co.uk

0207 4057422 

The five previous prize winners are –

2011 – James Maker, ‘Autofellatio’ (Big Fib)

2012 John McCullough, ‘The Frost Fairs’ (Salt)

2013 – Mari Hannah, The Murder Wall’ (Pan)

2014 – Diriye Osman, ‘Fairytales for Lost Children’ (Team Angelica)

2015 – Kirsty Logan, ‘The Rental Heart’ (Salt)