Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Short story novice clinches the BBC National Short Story Award
An award-winning poet has won the prestigious BBC National Short Story Award with her second attempt at a short story.
Kate Clanchy, who has worked primarily as a teacher and as Poet in Residence for the Red Cross, beat an exceptional shortlist which included past Orange Prize winners Lionel Shriver and Naomi Alderman, and BAFTA-nominated author Jane Rogers.
The story, entitled The Not-Dead and The Saved is a haunting story of parental love and sacrifice set in a hospital ward. The story of a mother and child, whose relationship is conducted against a background of hospital visits, transplants and tumours, was praised by the judges for its rich lyricism and deeply affecting style.
Clanchy received her winner’s cheque of £15,000 at a ceremony this evening (Monday 7 December) at the Free Word Centre in Farringdon. The winner was announced and then interviewed live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row (7.15pm).
Sara Maitland, who was shortlisted for her story Moss Witch, was awarded £3,000 as runner-up. Sara is a distinguished short-story author who has had six collections published.
Each of the other shortlisted authors was awarded £500.
More than 600 entries were received for this year’s award which is open to authors who have had some history of publication and who are UK residents.
This year broadcaster and journalist Tom Sutcliffe chaired the judging panel which consisted of singer-songwriter Will Young, author Dame Margaret Drabble, Orange Prize winner Helen Dunmore and BBC Radio 4’s Editor Di Speirs.
Chair of judges, Tom Sutcliffe commented:
‘Kate Clanchy's story was the unanimous choice of the judging panel -- an account of a deeply painful experience that we felt had become richer on every re-reading. We were all impressed by its acute control of emotional tone and by the vividness and generosity of the writing.’
Di Speirs, judge and Editor of Readings, BBC Radio 4:
'Judging this award on behalf of the BBC since its inception, I have been keenly aware of the growing strength of entries - not just in volume but in range and depth and poise. Year on year, acclaimed writers from other disciplines have been drawn to try their hand at it and I am delighted to see this broader appeal paying such dividends now, and that the BBC continues to play its part in what is clearly a palpable resurgence in the form.'
Mark Damazer, Controller of BBC Radio 4 said:
‘The National Short Story Award is a highlight of the Radio 4 literary calendar. We continue to broadcast nearly 150 short stories every year - some sad, some funny, some from famous writers, some from newcomers. The award celebrates the range of what we do - and this year, for the first time, I am delighted to say we will have been able to offer the Radio 4 audience the chance to podcast the brilliant finalists.’
Kate Clanchy was born in Glasgow in 1965, and educated in Edinburgh and Oxford. She lived in London's East End for several years, before moving to Oxford where she now works as a teacher, journalist and freelance writer. She is a regular contributor to The Guardian newspaper and teaches Creative Writing at the Arvon Foundation and Oxford Brookes.
She received rave reviews for her last book Antigona and Me, the story of her relationship with her cleaner, who fled Kosovo during the 1999 war.
The 2009 shortlist was:
Naomi Alderman – Other People’s Gods
Kate Clanchy – The Not-Dead and The Saved
Sara Maitland – Moss Witch
Jane Rogers - Hitting Trees with Sticks
Lionel Shriver – Exchange Rates
Aimed at highlighting the importance of the short story, the award stands at the heart of a UK-wide campaign - story - that also launched alongside the award in 2005. The ambition of both award and campaign is to expand opportunities for British writers, readers and publishers of the short story. The award aims to honour the country’s finest authors in the form. James Lasdun secured the inaugural year with “An Anxious Man,” Julian Gough took the award in 2007 with “The Orphan and the Mob” and Clare Wigfall was the 2008 winner with “The Numbers.” Other authors shortlisted in previous years have included Jackie Kay, Hanif Kureishi, Rose Tremain and William Trevor.
BBC Radio 4 is the world’s leading broadcaster of short stories and a staunch supporter of the form. Short stories are broadcast every week attracting more than a million listeners. The BBC hopes that the award can continue to serve as a reminder of the power of the short story in a literary environment dominated by the novel.