The winner of the 2011 Green Carnation Prize, announced today, is Catherine Hall’s The Proof of Love.

Hall beat other shortlisted authors including Colm Tóibín and Jackie Kay to win the LGBT book award for her second novel.

The prize drew controversy earlier in the year for not including Alan Hollinghurst, Philip Hensher or Ali Smith’s recent books on the shortlist.

First open only to male writers, the award sought submissions from all members of the LGBT community this year.

The Proof of Love is the story of a Cambridge mathematician who takes on work as a farm labourer during the summer of 1976, who experiences a tragedy while settling into life in his new rural community.

Chair of the judges, Simon Savidge, said: “I am thrilled, along with all the other judges, that Catherine Hall has won this year’s Green Carnation prize with her extraordinary second novel The Proof of Love.

“This is one of those rare novels in which you get so lost you forget that it is fiction. The characters walk off the page and you can feel the atmosphere simmering and brooding in every sentence.

“It’s a book that quietly takes you by the hand, leading you gently into a false sense of security before gripping you and it doesn’t let go until the very last moment.

“It is the sort of novel that storytelling and reading are all about, wonderfully written and a book you want to pass on and recommend to everyone you know.”

Catherine Hall said: “I’m utterly delighted to have won the Green Carnation Prize – a completely unexpected pleasure, especially given the calibre of the other writers on the shortlist.

“It’s a great way of raising the profile of LGBT writing, which I think can only be a good thing.”