Memoir on growing up gay in devout Muslim community wins LGBT literary award

A dissertation on growing up gay in a devout Muslim community and a biography of lesbian literary figures were the 2021 Polari Awards winners.

The awards, which recognize literature exploring the LGBT experience, were presented at a ceremony at the Southbank Center for the London Literature Festival.

Mohsin Zaidi, lawyer, won the first Polari Book Prize for his coming-of-age title A Detiful Boy: A Memoir.

Polari Prize winner Diana Souhami was awarded for her biography of lesbian literary personalities (Polari Prize / PA)

The book traces Zaidi’s education in a devout Shia Muslim community in east London.

Diana Souhami won the Polari Global Award for Non-Beginner Talent for her biography No Modernism Without Lesbians.

It explores the impact of Sylvia Beach, Natalie Barney, Gertrude Stein and Annie Winifred Ellerman, whose pseudonym was Bryher.

Praising Zaidi’s work, Rachel Holmes, the book’s top prize judge, said: “In these days of deliberately stoked cultural wars, Mohsin Zaidi skillfully engages us with the harsh, hilarious and inherently human realities of the world. multiple identity.

“With painful honesty, he shows how no community of class, race, faith or homosexuality is immune from suspicion and the occasional hatred of otherness, nor fortunately from love, laughter and acceptance. “

Chris Gribble, Global Award Judge and CEO of the National Center for Writing, described Souhami’s book as “richly documented, entertaining and extremely enjoyable” offering “a glimpse into the life, passions and legacy of a group. exceptional women who together have helped change the course of their culture ”.

Zaidi received a cash prize of £ 1,000 while Souhami, 81, took home £ 2,000.

Both juries are chaired by founder, journalist and author Paul Burston.


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