The best LGBT books of the year have been shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize

The shortlist for the Polari First Book Prize was announced last night at the Polari Literary Salon in London’s Southbank Centre, and Attitude editor-at-large Matthew Todd has been nominated for his book Straight Jacket. Now in its seventh year, the Prize is awarded annually to a writer whose first book explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction. This year’s shortlist brings together three male and three female writers hailing from Kuwait to Cardiff, whose eclectic body of work offers a range of perspectives on the LGBT experience. Matthew's book Straight Jacket: How to be Gay and Happy delves into contemporary gay culture to address a plethora of issues gay people continue to face in contemporary society. He was recently honoured with an Attitude Pride Award for his work on tackling mental health issues in the LGBT+ community. Source: inclusivemedia Other nominees for this year's award include: Expecting by Chitra Ramaswamy (Saraband), Guapa by Saleem Haddad (Europa Editions UK), We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Fire by Jules Grant (Myriad), The Vegetarian Tigers of Paradise by Crystal Jeans (Honno), and Jerusalem Ablaze by Orlando Ortega-Medina (Cloud Lodge). The 2017 shortlist covers a variety of genre and form including crime fiction, short story and memoir- from Crystal Jean’s 1990s coming of age tale and barrister-turned-author Jules Grant’s female gang thriller, to Saleem Haddad’s depiction of gay life in a post-Arab Spring dictatorship and Chitra Ramaswamy’s refreshingly different meditation on pregnancy. Chair of judges Paul Burston, said: “We are delighted with the breadth and strength of the work this year, which spans such a broad range of countries, cultures and experiences. Choosing six books from such a strong long list was extremely difficult. But in the end the judges came up with a shortlist we all agreed upon, and one which reflects the ethos of the prize. These six books are exceptionally well written and wonderfully diverse. Together they contain a wealth of insights about what it means to be LGBT today. ” Judges for the 2017 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 and comedian, VG Lee; and playwright, actor and producer, Alexis Gregory. The overall winner will be revealed at the London Literature Festival on Friday 13th October at the Southbank Centre. The shortlist announcement at Southbank coincides with a bumper series of events as the Polari Salon celebrates 10 years of championing LGBT voices, with the largest ever LBGT literary tour undertaken in the UK. Beginning in July, it will showcase over 80 writers, including Val McDermid, Matthew Todd and Paul Flynn. Key dates include: 13 September – Printworks, Hastings 15 September – Lewisham Library 17 September – The Place Theatre, Bedford 22 September – Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh 8 October – Birmingham Literature Festival 20 October – Marlborough Theatre, Brighton 2 December – City Library, Newcastle For further information on the tour, including full dates and event line-ups visit the Polari website.