Claire-Louise Bennett shortlisted for BBC National Short Story Award
Hilary Mantel, Lavinia Greenlaw, K J Orr shortlisted for second time along with Tahmima Anam for £15,000 prize
Claire-Louise Bennett, who lives in Galway, is the author of Pond, which was published to acclaim by Dublin’s Stinging Fly Press last year – an Irish Times review called it “modernist, ambitious and writerly” – and this summer by Penguin Random House in the US. It was shortlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize
Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel, poet and author Lavinia Greenlaw and short story writer K J Orr have all made the shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award with BookTrust 2016 for the second time, it was announced tonight.
In a Right State by Mantel – a story inspired by an Alan Bennett article in the London Review of Books, Lavinia Greenlaw’s The Darkest Place in England, and K J Orr’s Disappearances are joined by two stories: Garments by Tahmima Anam and Morning, Noon & Night by Claire-Louise Bennett.
Bennett, who lives in Galway, is the author of Pond, which was published to acclaim by Dublin’s Stinging Fly Press last year – an Irish Times review called it “modernist, ambitious and writerly” – and this summer by Penguin Random House in the US. It was shortlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize and named one of The Millions’ most anticpated books of 2016.
Now in its eleventh year, the award 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 shortlisted authors £500 each.
Selected from 478 entries, the 2016 shortlist is diverse and multi-generational. Human connection and the quest for experience are key themes for this year’s stories. From the loneliness of Claire-Louise Bennett’s visceral, painterly depiction of the rhythm of a failed academic’s day to an exploration of singular identity in K J Orr’s story of a retired surgeon who discovers the possibility of another life in a local café; to the fairy-tale quality of Lavinia Greenlaw’s story, where 15-year old Jamie longs for essential experience – these are powerful, intimate stories that remind us what it is to be human.
Friendship, community and safety are also explored and in Tahmima Aman’s unsentimental story of three “garment girls” in Bangladesh searching for security, love and laughter amidst their brutal, unforgiving life whilst in Hilary Mantel’s mordantly witty tale we are thrust into the world of the A&E habitué and the community created there.
Ted Hodgkinson, senior programmer for literature and the spoken word at the Southbank Centre and award judge, said: “These short stories catapult you through distinct lives, sensibilities and in just a few thousand words, expand the possibilities of the form. From illuminating the telling details in the everyday, to pitching us into hidden underworlds that exist in parallel to our own, these stories are full of insights, humour and revelations. Being part of the judging this year for an award I’ve long admired has been a privilege, not to mention rich in discoveries.”
Ted Hodgkinson is joined on this year’s judging panel by Booker Prize winner Pat Barker, poet and author Kei Miller, books editor at BBC Radio, Di Speirs – and the panel is chaired by BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour presenter and author, Dame Jenni Murray.
Previous winnersinclude Irish author Julian Gough, Zadie Smith, Lionel Shriver, Rose Tremain, Sarah Hall, Jon McGregor, Jonathan Buckley and Mark Haddon. As well as rewarding the most renowned short story writers, the award has raised the profile of new writers including Clare Wigfall and Lisa Blower.
The announcement of the BBC National Short Story Award 2016 winner and runner-up will be broadcast live from the award ceremony on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on October 4th, from 7.15pm.