Saturday, November 28, 2009

All-women shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award

This year’s BBC’s National Short Story Award will be an all female affair after the shortlist revealed that, for the first time, only women are in the running to win the award.

The award, which celebrates the best of the contemporary British short story, is one of the most prestigious for a single short story with the winning author receiving £15,000; the runner up £3,000 and three further authors £500 each.

This year’s shortlist is:

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 (pic right) – Exchange Rates

This high calibre shortlist includes past winners of the Orange Prize for Fiction including Lionel Shriver who won with We Need to Talk About Kevin in 2005 and Naomi Alderman who won the Orange Prize for New Writers in 2006 for her novel Disobedience. Kate Clanchy is best known for her award-winning poetry and her role as Poet in Residence for the Red Cross in the UK.

Sara Maitland is an established award-winning short story author while Jane Rogers is best known for her award-winning adaptations on television and radio including her own novel Mr Wroe’s Virgins.
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 chairs the judging panel which consists of singer-songwriter Will Young, author Dame Margaret Drabble, Orange Prize winner Helen Dunmore and BBC Radio 4’s Editor Di Speirs.

The shortlist will be announced tonight (Friday 27 November) at 7.15pm on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.

Five of the UK’s top actors and actresses will read the shortlisted stories. Miriam Margolyes, Penelope Wilton, Hannah Gordon, Harry Potter’s Jason Isaacs and Julia McKenzie will each read one story which will be broadcast daily on BBC Radio 4 at 3.30pm from Monday 30 November.

The final announcement of the award winner and runners up will be made on Front Row on Monday 7 December.

This year, for the first time, each story will be available as a free podcast available for download for two weeks from Monday 30 November.

Tom Sutcliffe, broadcaster and Chair of Judges said: “We weren’t just struck by the quality of the short stories of the writing this year, but also by the range of what the short story can do - from Joycean epiphany to playful literary games. What’s exciting about the short story is that there are less limits on this form than there are on the novel and I hope our short list gives a sense of that scope - excellent writing in very different forms and voices.”

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.

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