Yesterday the longlist was announced for the 2018 Polari First Book Prize, an award given to a writer whose first book “explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction”.
It’s an interesting mix of poetry, memoir, history, play, fiction, and children’s picture book. Though it’s a shame that there’s no YA fiction on the list, there are still some fantastic books.
I’ve only read one book on the list, so I’ve taken a look to see what else I might want to grab a copy of. The ones that have spiked my interest are:
Pansy Boy by Paul Harfleet
In this graphic novel in rhymed couplets, a young boy tackles homophobia in school by planting pansies at the site of homophobic attacks, taking strength from the flowers he loves. The power of his actions empowers his school to value what is delicate and different. The book comes to life in vivid graphic art and comes complete with a personal field guide to the flowers and birds included in its pages.
Little Gold by Allie Rogers
The heat is oppressive and storms are brewing in Brighton in the summer of 1982. Little Gold, a boyish girl on the brink of adolescence, is struggling with the reality of her broken family and a home descending into chaos. Her only refuge is the tree at the end of her garden. Into her fractured life steps Peggy Baxter. The connection between the two is instant, but just when it seems that Little Gold has found solace, outsiders appear who seek to take advantage of her frail family in the worst way possible. In an era when so much is hard to speak aloud, can Little Gold share enough of her life to avert disaster? And can Peggy Baxter, a woman running out of time and with her own secrets to bear, recognize the danger before it’s too late?
Bravado by Scottee
Scottee grew up around strong, brave and violent men and boys. Bravado is his memoir of working class masculinity from 1991 to 1999 as seen by a sheep in wolf’s clothing.Bravado explores the graphic nature of maleness and the extent it will go to succeed. This show is not for the weak hearted, it includes graphic accounts of violence, abuse, assault and sex.
Mussolini’s Island by Sarah Day
When Francesco is rounded up with a group of young men and herded into a camp on the island of San Domino, he realises that someone has handed a list of names to the fascist police; everyone is suspicious of one another. Elena, a young and illiterate island girl on the cusp of womanhood, is drawn to the handsome Francesco yet fails to understand why her family try to keep her away from him. When Elena discovers the truth about the group of prisoners, the fine line between love and hate pulls her towards an act that can only have terrible consequences for all. A novel of sexuality and desire, of hidden passions and the secrets we keep locked within us. Based on the true story of the rounding up of a group of Sicilian gay men in 1939
The rest of this year’s longlisted books are:
A Marvellous Party by Ian Elmslie
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard by Alex Bertie
Good As You: From Prejudice to Pride- 30 years of Gay Britain by Paul Flynn
Carnivore by Jonathan Lyon
Elmet by Fiona Mozley
Have you read any of the long-listed books? What would you recommend or what might you grab a copy of this summer? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or on twitter.