Diriye Osman has won the Polari First Book Prize for his short story collection, Fairytales for Lost Children, published by Team Angelica Press.

The British-Somali short story writer, essayist, critic and visual artist was last night [Wednesday 8th October] presented with a cheque for £1,000 by Vincent Francois, Chair of the UK LGBT Network and Regional Head of Audit, Societe Generale, at the Polari Literary Salon at the London Literature Festival.

The Polari First Book Prize is for a first book which explores the LGBT experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction published in the UK in English within the twelve months of the deadline for submissions (this year 1st February 2014). Self-published works in both print and digital formats are eligible for submission.

This year, for the first time, the five shortlisted books are on sale at selected WH Smiths travel outlets across the country.
Paul Burston, Chair of judges, said, ‘With such a strong shortlist, deciding on a winner was incredibly difficult. The Polari First Book Prize is about celebrating voices which are often ignored or difficult to hear. Writing as a black gay African man from a Muslim background, Osman dazzled us with the wide range of literary voices in this stunning short story collection. We look forward to his next book and feel confident that he will dazzle us again.’

The judging panel for the Polari First Book Prize 2014 consists of author, journalist and host of Polari Paul Burston, (Chair); critic and broadcaster Bidisha; author and former Culture Editor for Channel 4 News Matt Cain; literary critic and broadcaster Suzi Feay; author and former Head of Literature and Spoken Word at the Southbank Rachel Holmes and VG Lee, author and comedian.

Fairytales for Lost Children is narrated by people constantly on the verge of self-revelation. These characters – young, gay and lesbian Somalis – must navigate the complexities of family, identity and the immigrant experience as the tumble towards freedom. Set in Kenya, Somalia and South London, these stories are imbued with pathos, passion and linguistic playfulness, marking the arrival of a singular new voice in contemporary fiction.

‘At a time when homosexuality is still illegal in most of Africa, and barely features in contemporary African fiction, this book is a welcome surprise … At a time when African writing is on the rise, Osman stands above the crowd.’ The Independent

‘East Africa. South London. Queer. Displaced. Mentally ill. My excitement over Osman and his writing comes, in part, out of delight at the impossibility of categorisation.’ Daily Telegraph
The 2014 shortlisted titles were:

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I Am Nobody’s Nigger by Dean Atta (Westbourne Press)

Petite Mort by Beatrice Hitchman (Serpent’s Tail)

Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman (Team Angelica)

God’s Other Children – A London Memoir by Vernal W. Scott (self-published)

The Rubbish Lesbian by Sarah Westwood (Mimwood Press)