Polari First Book Prize 2013 – Shortlist

Jamie Bernthal
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Vada is a Polari word. It means see/look at.  I presume you know about Polari (if not, vada this Bluffer’s Guide, or Google ‘Julian and Sandy’). Anyway, it makes sense that a high-profile book award for LGBT-related fiction, now in its third year, is called the Polari Prize.

The shortlist for the 2013 Polari First Book Prize was announced on 11th September at the Southbank Centre in London. Five distinguished judges have selected a shortlist of five UK-authored first books, which explore the LGBT experience. One exciting thing about this Societe Generale UK LGBT Network-sponsored prize is that it is open to print and digital self-published authors. So the prize of £1000 can be really wonderful.

One judge, the literary critic Suzi Feay, said ‘it was difficult to narrow down the choices to the final five, but we feel they represent the strongest individual voices with the most engaging tales to tell [… ] These are books to dazzle, amuse and beguile.’

And it’s certainly a dazzling, amusing, beguiling list of five:


The Murder Wall – Mari Hannah (Pan Macmillan), the first in a series of gritty detective novels.

the murder wall

Tony Hogan Bought Me An Icecream Float Before He Stole My Ma – Kerry Hudson (Chatto & Windus), which Jonathan Ruppin, writing for Foyles, called ‘Trainspotting on a sugar-rush.’

tony hogan ice cream polari

The Sitar – Rebecca Idris (self published), which probes the British gaysian scene and the issues faced by British Asian lesbians.

the sitar polari

Catching Bullets: Memoirs of a Bond Fan – Mark O’Connell (Splendid), a unique kind of memoir.

catching bullets polari

The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones – Jack Wolf (Chatto & Windus), a tale of obsession, pain, and demons in 1750.

the take of raw head polari


READ THEM ALL. The winner will be announced in the Southbank Centre on 13th November 2013.

About Jamie Bernthal

Jamie is a researcher, would-be-poet, and occasional gay from sunny Norfolk. A PhD student at Exeter University, he’s interested in queer theory and detective fiction. And gin. When he (finally) graduates, Jamie plans to publish sensational, provocative monographs. And to become Taylor Swift. @JCBernthal