Charles Lambert’s PRODIGAL shortlisted for the Polari Prize 2019

PRODIGAL by Charles Lambert UK cover.jpg

Charles Lambert’s novel PRODIGAL, published by Gallic Books in August 2018, has been shortlisted for the Polari Prize 2019. The prize honours writers “whose work explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction, or nonfiction”. While there has previously been a Polari First Book Prize, this year is the first time that there will be an award given to an established writer also. The winner will be announced 22 October 2019 at the Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival, in an event headlined by Tracey Thorn.

VG Lee, author and one of the judges of the prize, said: “Six very different and exciting voices make up the shortlist for The Polari Prize, taking us from the English countryside to Soviet Russia and Post 9/11 New York, a Brighton garden to music-making in Berwick-on-Tweed, and a teenage rites of passage towards selfhood. Any one of these books is a potential winner because each is perfect in its own right.”

PRODIGAL is a fearless, elegantly written exploration of family, trust, death, and what we do to one another in the name of love, told within the wider context of a beautiful yet troubling, queer coming-of-age tale.

Jeremy, a hapless man in his late 50s, scrapes together a living in Paris by writing soft-core pornography under the saucy guise of ‘Nathalie Cray’. When his all-but-estranged sister tells him their father is on his deathbed, Jeremy reluctantly travels back to his parental home in the depths of the English countryside.

Confronted with a life that he had always been eager to escape, his return marks the start of an emotionally fraught journey into the family’s chequered past. The journey takes him back to the unexpected death of his mother in a provincial Greek hospital years earlier and, further back, to the moment at which the Eldritch family fell apart.

It’s a journey composed of revelations, of secrets disclosed and not disclosed, and of something that might, or might not, be reconciliation...

Read a Q&A with Charles on PRODIGAL here.

Last year Charles’s novel THE CHILDREN’S HOME was included in a New York Times list of 13 Haunted Books to read before watching THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE.

Born in England, Charles lives in Fondi, near Rome, working as a university teacher and freelance editor. His first novel, LITTLE MONSTERS, a Good Housekeeping selection, was published in 2008 by Picador, the same year as THE SCENT OF CINNAMON AND OTHER STORIES (Salt Publishing), the title story of which was an O. Henry Prize winner. His second novel, ANY HUMAN FACE (Picador), was described by the Telegraph as 'a slow-burning, beautifully written crime story that brings to life the Rome that tourists don't see - luckily for them.'

In 2014, Charles’s experimental autobiography WITH A ZERO AT ITS HEART (The Friday Project) was one of the Guardian's top ten books of that year. THE CHILDREN’S HOME, a dystopic story of a haunted house, was published in 2016 to widespread praise, followed by TWO DARK TALES, in 2017, both by Gallic Books.

Praise for Charles Lambert

‘Charles Lambert writes as if his life depends on it. He takes risks at every turn.’ — Hannah Tinti

‘Charles Lambert is a seriously good writer.' — Dame Beryl Bainbridge

‘Compelling reading.’ — Patricia Duncker

‘Charles Lambert is a terrific, devious storyteller.’ — Owen King


‘A thoroughly original entry into the tradition of ghost stories, eschewing convention …compulsively readable…A one-of-a-kind literary horror story.’ – Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

‘Lambert carefully constructs the restricted sphere that Fletcher inhabits, leaving the chaotic larger world and the source of his family fortune largely a mystery. After slowly unfolding Fletcher’s story, Lambert then accelerates the pace to a breathtaking climax. THE CHILDREN’S HOME is a magical, mesmerizing tale about the courage it takes to confront the unknown.’ – Booklist, Starred Review

‘THE CHILDREN’S HOME is like a strange dream in which you can’t quite tell if you’re awake…The resulting story is a weird, poignant journey reminiscent of Calvino that explores fear, power, revenge and redemption. Lambert’s story is addictive … its potent, often brutal, images have a lasting power.’ – Sheri Bodoh, BookPage

Visit Charles’ blog

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