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Diana Souhami wins the Polari 2021 prize for No modernism without lesbians | Books

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Diana Souhami’s No Modernism Without Lesbians won the 2021 Polari Prize for LGBTQ + books. The account of a group of gay women who helped start the modernist movement has been called “richly documented, entertaining and extremely enjoyable” by National Center for Writing judge and CEO Chris Gribble. It offers “a glimpse into the life, passions and legacy of a group of exceptional women who together have helped change the course of their culture,” he added. “Souhami is a brilliant guide and this book is both a celebration, a fix and a filler.”

Souhami, who received the £ 2,000 prize at a ceremony at Southbank Center in London, has previously written biographies of prominent queer designers Radclyffe Hall and Gluck, as well as a book on Gertrude Stein’s relationship with Alice B Toklas. Stein is also featured in No Modernism Without Lesbians, presented alongside Sylvia Beach, Bryher and Natalie Barney as a pioneer of the emerging art form of the 20th century.

Diana Souhami wins the Polari 2021 prize for No modernism without lesbians |  Books

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Mohsin Zaidi Photography: The Polari Prize

The Polari First Book Prize was also announced at Saturday’s event, which this year went to criminal lawyer Mohsin Zaidi for his memoir A Detiful Boy. Already a Guardian, New Statesman and GQ Book of the Year, this debut book chronicles the author’s experience growing up gay in a devout Muslim family and being in denial of his sexuality.

Writer and judge Rachel Holmes said: “In these days of deliberately stoked cultural wars, Mohsin Zaidi skillfully engages us with the harsh, hilarious and inherently human realities of multiple identity. With painful honesty, he shows that no community of class, race, faith or homosexuality is immune from suspicion and occasional hatred of otherness, nor fortunately from love, laughter and acceptance.

Zaidi beat Booker winner Douglas Stuart to take home the £ 1,000 prize, along with other shortlisted authors Tomasz Jędrowski, Andreena Leeanne, Kevin Maxwell and Paul Mendez.

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 were shortlisted for the overall award alongside No Modernism Without Lesbians.

The Polari Awards are open to books of all kinds that explore 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 dialect of slang that gay men used to secretly communicate with each other before male homosexuality was legalized. .

Last year, Kate Davies won the Polari Prize for In at the Deep End, while Amrou Al-Kadhi won the First Book Prize for Life As a Unicorn.

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