Category Archives: Best of 2015

Green Carnation Prize Short List



The Green Carnation prize short list is out.

Having to choose between the only two I’ve read, A Place Called Winter and Mrs Engels, my vote would go to Gavin McCrea for Mrs Engels.

There are a lot of similarities between the books as both are based on real life historical people and both books are told in the first person. In both cases the author fills in an interior personal life where the historical record is sketchy. The writing in each is a pleasure to read. Continue reading

Interview with Hanya Yanagihara

Randon and Hanya

Randon Burns and Hanya Yanagihara

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Hanya Yanagihara the day of the Man Booker readings – which was the night before the award.  Sadly, she did not become the first American to win it. But in the interview she addresses some of my questions about the choices she made regarding her writing process and why she thinks a gay audience would relate to A Little Life – even though only one of the four main characters identifies as gay in the “traditional” sense of the word.

The interview was broadcast on Out in South London, a terrific program that covers gay art, theatre, books, film etc. hosted by Rosie Wilby on Resonance 104.4 FM.  It will be re-broadcast on Friday at 11am and you can listen to it online here.  The interview starts about 14:30 minutes in.


Polari and Man Booker Prize Short Lists



The Polari First Book Prize short list was announced this week.

Now in its fifth year, the Prize celebrates the very best debut books that explore the LGBT experience, whether through poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction. The shortlist – traditionally comprising five titles, but this year stretched to six due to the strength of submissions – showcases the breadth of rich and diverse LGBT literary talent today.

Polari First Book Prize 2015 shortlist:
Straight Expectations by Julie Bindel (Guardian Books)
The Gift of Looking Closely by Al Brookes (Self-published)
Everything Must Go by LaJohn Joseph (ITNA Press)
The Rental Heart by Kirsty Logan (Salt)
Self-portrait with The Happiness by David Tait (Smith/Doorstop books)
The Informant by Susan Wilkins (Pan)

The six shortlisted titles – three novels (The Gift of Looking CloselyEverything Must Go, and The Informant), one short story collection (The Rental Heart), one political polemic (Straight Expectations), and one poetry collection (Self-portrait with The Happiness) – capture a vivid range of perspectives, all with a bold and inspiring LGBT narrative. With authors from all over the country, it brings to light some of the most exciting and varied new voices in contemporary writing, making it one of the year’s most representative literary prize lists.

The winner will be announced Monday, 5 October.

[From the Polari press release]

If you’ve read any of the above books I’d love to hear what you thought of them.

The Man Booker Short List was also announced this week with A Little Life making it to the final round.  The winner will be announced on 13 October.  On 12 October all the authors from the short list will read from their books at the Southbank Centre.

The 2015 shortlist of six novels is:

Author (nationality)                  Title 
Marlon James (Jamaica)       A Brief History of Seven Killings 
Tom McCarthy (UK)               Satin Island
Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria)       The Fishermen
Sunjeev Sahota (UK)               The Year of the Runaways
Anne Tyler (US)                       A Spool of Blue Thread
Hanya Yanagihara (US)            A Little Life