Diana Souhami wins 2021 Polari Award for No Modernism Without Lesbians | Books

No modernism without lesbians by Diana Souhami has won the 2021 Polari Award for LGBTQ + books. The story of a group of gay women who helped start the modernist movement was called “really researched, entertaining and hugely enjoyable” by Judge and National Center for Writing Judge Chris Gribble. It provides “insights into the lives, passions and legacies of a group of outstanding women who, together, helped change the course of their culture,” he added. “Souhami is an ingenious guide, and this book is a celebration, corrective and fulfilling all in one.”

Souhami, who has been awarded the £ 2,000 prize at a ceremony at London’s Southbank Center, has previously written biographies of prominent queer-creative Radclyffe Hall and Gluck, as well as a book about Gertrude Stein’s relationship with Alice B Toklas. Stein also stars in No Modernism Without Lesbians, presented alongside Sylvia Beach, Bryher and Natalie Barney as pioneers of the 20th century new art form.

Mohsin More
Mohsin More Photo: Polari Prize

Also announced at Saturday’s event was the Polari First Book Award, which this year has been awarded to Detective Mohsin Zaidi for his memoir A Dutiful Boy. Already as this year’s Guardian, New Statesman and GQ book, this debut tells the author’s experience of growing up as a homosexual in a devout Muslim household and being in denial of his sexuality.

Author and judge Rachel Holmes said: “In these days of deliberately inflamed cultural wars, Mohsin Zaidi deftly engages us in the harsh, funny and inherent human realities of multiple identities. With painful honesty, he shows how no community of class, race, faith or queerness is immune to suspicion and occasional hatred of difference, nor merciful to love, laughter and acceptance. “

Zaidi has beaten Booker winner Douglas Stuart to take home the £ 1,000 prize, as have other shortlisted writers Tomasz Jędrowski, Andreena Leeanne, Kevin Maxwell and Paul Mendez.

Shortlisted for the overall award along with No Modernism Without Lesbians were Dragman by Steven Appleby, The Air Year by Caroline Bird, The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle by Neil Blackmore, What Girls Do in the Dark by Rosie Garland and The Ministry of Guidance by Golnoosh Nour.

The Polari Awards are open to books of any genre exploring the LGBTQ + experience. The Polari Literary Salon, which hosts the awards, was founded by author and journalist Paul Burston in 2007. Its name comes from the slang dialect that gay men used to communicate with each other before male homosexuality was legalized.

Last year, Kate Davies won the Polari Award for In at the Deep End, while Amrou Al-Kadhi won the first book award for Life As a Unicorn.

Leave a Comment