David France wins The Green Carnation Prize (And You Could Win It!)

So as many of you know, I cofounded a prize called The Green Carnation Prize which celebrates LGBTQ+ writers and their fantastic books be they fiction, poetry, memoir, graphic novel, short stories or non fiction. Well the winner has not long been announced AND as I am feeling full of the Green Carnation spirit I will be giving a copy away at the end of the post, but first here is all you need to know about the winning book which was chosen from an INCREDIBLE shortlist…

How to Survive a Plague (hadback)-1

The Green Carnation Prize today announces David France’s insider account of the AIDS epidemic, How To Survive A Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS, as the unanimous winner at a ceremony hosted by Foyles in London, UK.

The third non-fiction winner in the Prize’s seven-year history, France’s book was up against a shortlist that also featured Stella Duffy, Garth Greenwell, Kirsty Logan, and Kei Miller. First released as a film in 2012, How To Survive A Plague was dedicated to France’s partner Doug Gould, who died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1992, and went on to be nominated for best documentary in 2013 Academy Awards.

Double Emmy-nominee, France, an investigative reporter and a chronicler of AIDS since the early 1980’s, used his unparalleled access to the community to share the story of the AIDS epidemic and the grassroots movement of activists, many of them facing their own life-or-death struggles, who grabbed the reins of scientific research to help develop the drugs that turned HIV from a mostly fatal infection into a manageable disease.

Chair of judges and internationally acclaimed author John Boyne said: ‘In this time of renewed activism in an increasingly uncertain world, France’s definitive account of the AIDS crisis and the activists who changed the fate of so many lives, seems vital and important to inspire everyone, not just the LGBTQ+ community. We couldn’t be prouder to choose this book as the rightful winner.’

Simon Heafield, Head of Marketing at Foyles, said: ‘I’m so glad to have another excuse to recommend David France’s magnificent book to Foyles readers. This essential and inspirational account of one of the darkest periods of recent history is also a breathtakingly riveting read, full of unforgettable characters. This is arguably one of the most important books published in 2016, and a very deserving winner.’

In addition to his trophy, France also received a bottle of champagne and his winning book will receive national in-store promotion across Foyles bookshops. Now in its seventh year, the Prize, with the support of Foyles, seeks to champion the best writing by an LGBTQ author in the UK. It is a vital recognition and celebration for books as diverse as the community it represents and unified by a common thread: sheer quality of writing.

Simon Savidge, Director of the Prize, said: ‘I am delighted that David France has won The Green Carnation Prize with this incredible and important book. We have made many steps forward in the 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, however some of the voices of our history have often been silenced. I hope this book will enlighten people, make them question what they think they know and encourage discussion. That is what every great book does.’

Previous winners have included Patrick Gale, Catherine Hall, and Christopher Fowler. Last year, following the highest number of submissions to date, the Prize was awarded to Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings. Upon winning the prize, James said: “Six years ago I wouldn’t have been able to voice that I was LGBT, so to be recognised for that and for work the judges felt was great is fantastic.”

So there you have it. I now instantly have to start thinking about next year’s prize, well maybe after a few celebratory shandies. Before that though I promised you the opportunity to win a copy of the book. So how can you? Well simply leave a comment below telling me what your favourite LGBT book is and why by the 1st of June and I will select one entry from anywhere in the world and email you and send it over. That simple. So go for it and good luck!

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “David France wins The Green Carnation Prize (And You Could Win It!)

  1. Shamefully I don’t know if I’ve read any LGBTQ+ books at all! I really enjoyed Girls will be Girls by Emer O’Toole, not sure if that counts though. There are tonnes on LGBTQ+ books on my TBR as I’m really trying to diversify my reading, I’m really looking forward to reading One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva, and I’ll be looking to the GC shortlist for books going forward. The winner sounds amazing, hoping to win 🤞🏼

  2. I read this book when I was reading through the Wellcome Prize shortlist and it was up there with the winner for me (Mend the Living was actually my favourite of the shortlist, so I was ultimately happy but I’d have been just has elated if this had won). To summarise, I’m damn glad this book has got some recognition and won (much deservedly) this prize!

    Now, I’m entering because I only have a kindle version of the book and would like a physical copy: My favourite LGBT+ book is quite ‘standard’ – and it’s Tipping the Velvet. I first read it when I was only 13/14 and recently reread it for the first time in 5 or so years. It’s a book which really opened my eyes, I was only just coming to terms with my sexuality and while on a reread I found so many issues with it, I can’t help but love it for what it means to me. I mean rereading it now at 23 I am mortified that my 13/14 year old self read it – I wouldn’t want 13 year old me reading something that explicit! But after reading the book, and then watching the TV series, I was so much more in tune with myself. When I first read it I was young and naive, when I reread it at 16 I understood more – I realised what this book actually made me realise about myself – it was more eyeopening the second time than the first. Then, on this third read, I am looking at it through completely different lenses and I love it so much more than I did the two previous reads.

    Anyway, that was practically a dissertation on the book there. Oops. But I’m very happy that How To Survive The Plague won because it is INCREDIBLE and is a much deserving winner. 😀

    • I also adore Tipping the Velvet and have read it several times. Such a great story and fabulous characters. I’m middle aged and can only imagine how shockingly amazing such a book would be to read as a young teen.

  3. TipsyTimmy

    Trumpet by Jackie Kay.

    Why?
    The warmth, optimism and tenderness… The compassion and humour… The real life inspiration (in both senses of the word) for the protagonist…
    And the glorious, poetic and moving prose.

    Absolutely an LGBT classic but an essentially enriching read for everyone.

  4. We Go Around In The Night And Are Consumed By Fire, by Jules Grant (Myriad Editions). An uncompromising look at a way of life that most would deride, written with passion and empathy. I like my thinking to be challenged and this did so whilst remaining a compelling read.

  5. My Fave is A little Life by, well, you know

  6. Oh no, I missed this… (that invite didn’t arrive, oh well). I’ve seen the documentary, which is rather brilliant, but did not know about the book. I think my favourite LGBT 🏳️‍🌈 book is The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas 🤗

  7. My favorite recent book is the Middle grade novel George about a little boy that starts to transition to a little girl. It’s powerful and moving and funny and charming. I adored it.

  8. For me it’s Holding the man by Timothy Conigrave…although I had to wear cold teabags on my eyes the following day I finished it as I was weeping so much my eyes had puffed up to ridiculous levels! So moving.

  9. Tales of the City (and all those that followed) by Armistead Maupin.
    Why?
    I read it in the 80s and it immediately made me want to move to San Francisco. London in the 80s was a very different place – Thatcher, Section 28 etc The whole feel of Maupin’s books was what I loved. I thought all my problems might disappear if I could live in Barbary Lane and have Mrs Madrigal as my landlady. It was a sort of depiction of gay heaven!

  10. “The New Old Me” by Meredith Maran

  11. Joan

    Anything by Paul Monette but Borrowed Time is my favorite. He wrote heartbreakingly good books about the AIDS epidemic.

  12. One of my favorite LGBT books is Sudden Death by Rita Mae Brown. It holds a place of high honor in my heart because it was the first lesbian novel I’d ever read. A friend loaned it to me. I was 18 and in the Marines during the dark pre- Don’t Ask Don’t Tell years, so hid it away in my locker when not reading. It is supposedly based on Brown’s relationship with Martina Navratilova. I often think of re-reading it, but it might be one left better to my fuzzy memories.

  13. Bet

    It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think it’s Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeannette Winterson. So unputdownable, so sad, and so funny.

    • Bet

      If I win this book (or even if I don’t and end up buying it),after I am done reading it,I will to give it to my gender-queer child who volunteers at the AIDS Thrift store in Philadelphia.

  14. I’ll be honest. I don’t know if I have read any LGBTQ+ books. But I know I want to change that and for this reason I have pre-ordered ‘The Gender Games’ by Juno Dawson. I am very excited to read it!

    However, one book is not enough… and if I won How To Survive A Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS, I would pass it on to my gay husband… after reading it first, of course!

  15. Greetings, Simon!

    Favorite of all time is difficult but I would have to go with James Baldwin’s Another Country. I know most or many people often cite Giovanni’s Room as the best Baldwin novel, I prefer AC, a book I’ve read many times and am about to read again for a book discussion next month. Please, if you haven’t read it (and I’m certain you prolly have) do yourself a favor and read it. It’s brilliant!

    Take care
    -c

  16. janenicole66

    Before discovering Book tube I never really took much notice of authors, instead choosing books on the story. In the past year I feel like I’ve peeled back some layers and am learning to put more thought into who and what I read. So I didn’t think I’d read any LGBT books until I realised I have Darling by Jackie Kay and Fingersmith by Sarah Walters on my bookshelves. Jackie’s book was my first foray into poetry and I found it very accessible. After watching your latest video Simon I can see Juno Dawson’s The Gender Games joining them!

  17. Yasmine

    I haven’t read any LGBT books and I’m definitely looking to start, so it’d be nice to get a copy!

  18. A.C.

    My favourite LGBT book is “He Wants”, by Alison Moore. I think that, in this book, Alison Moore tells an amazing story about how the things that we miss and the people that we lose along the way can leave an indelible mark in our lives, and how social pressure and other people’s prejudice regarding what is different can prevent someone from being himself. But “He Wants” also leaves us with a positive message: it is never too late to summon up the courage to reclaim your own life.

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