Bringing it all back home
Best of British authors dominate longlist for world's richest short story Award.
A host of sparkling home-grown talent, including prize-winning authors Ali Smith, Toby Litt, Mark Haddon, Orange prize-winning Helen Dunmore, Adam Foulds, Sarah Hall and Booker Prize-winning Graham Swift, are in the running for the £30,000 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award - the richest prize in the world for an individual short story.
In a bumper year for British talent, 12 out of the 16 stories on the longlist come from UK- based authors. In its previous three years, the Award has never been won by a Briton, with the top prize going to New Zealand, the USA and Ireland respectively.
The judges have narrowed their search for an outstanding story of up to 6,000 words from over 500 entries to a longlist of 16, including six women and ten men.
With violence flaring and tensions currently running high in Northern Ireland, Mark McNay's 'Ten Years Too Late' takes us into the heart of the Loyalist community. Elsewhere Toby Litt - who appears on the longlist for the second consecutive year - offers up a bleak vision of a health-obsessed near future. And Sarah Hall also makes the longlist for the second time with 'Evie', which explores a disturbing sexual awakening.
Amongst the international authors on the list are the American Claire Vaye Watkins, Philomena Kearney Byrne and Belinda McKeon from Ireland, and Pulitzer Prize-winning Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz.
The 16 longlisted writers and the titles of their short stories:
- Caroline Adderson - 'Erection Man'
- Junot Diaz - 'Miss Lora'
- Helen Dunmore - 'Spotted Dick'
- Adam Foulds - 'Tunnelling'
- Mark Haddon - 'The Gun'
- Sarah Hall - 'Evie'
- Cynan Jones - 'The Dig'
- Philomena Kearney Byrne - 'Honda Fifty'
- Toby Litt - 'Call it "The Bug" Because I Have No Time to Think of a Better Title'
- Belinda McKeon - 'Eyes on Me, Eyes on You'
- Mark McNay - 'Ten Years Too Late'
- C D Rose - 'Arkady Who Couldn't See and Artem Who Couldn't Hear'
- Ali Smith - 'The Beholder'
- Graham Swift - 'I Live Alone'
- Claire Vaye Watkins - 'Rondine al Nido'
- Samuel Wright - 'Best Friend'
The winner will receive £30,000, and the five other shortlisted writers will each receive £1,000. The shortlist will be announced in The Sunday Times on 24 February. The winner will be announced at a gala dinner at The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival on 22 March. Readers can savour all six shortlisted stories at two special events at Foyles, Charing Cross on March 20 and 21 - produced in conjunction with WordTheater - each featuring readings by a stellar line-up of acting talent, to be announced soon. They will also be able to read the stories in a specially produced ebook and vote online at The Sunday Times website for their favourite piece.
Judge and novelist Andrew O'Hagan:
The short story used to be the orphan of prose fiction - a bit unloved, a bit uncelebrated. But this year's entries for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award demonstrate just how the form has grown up to be something spectacular and super-confident. The best and brightest of the new generation, as well as hundreds of world-class established authors, are not only writing short stories but submitting their favourite ones for this competition, and the judge's work this year was not easy. The good news, however, is that we have been able to choose a brilliant longlist, representing a stunning range of styles, time periods, themes, and sensibilities.
Their fellow judges are two other award-winning novelists: Joanna Trollope and Lionel Shriver. Completing the line-up are Andrew Holgate, Literary Editor of The Sunday Times, and Lord Matthew Evans, Chairman of EFG Private Bank (non-voting Chair of Judges), who are providing the prize money.
The Award accepts entries published in English from fiction authors from anywhere in the world who have been published in the UK or Ireland. The Award reflects The Sunday Times' support for outstanding writing and the rich literary heritage of the newspaper.
Previous winners of the Award have included C K Stead, from New Zealand (2010), Anthony Doerr, from the USA (2011) and, in 2012, Kevin Barry from Ireland. Shortlisted authors have included Hilary Mantel, Emma Donoghue, Yiyun Li, David Vann and Gerard Woodward.
- 24 February Shortlist announced.
- 20 and 21 March Foyles Charing Cross reading events.
- 22 March 4pm: Public panel discussion at The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival on the topic of writing a successful short story. The event will be chaired by Alison MacLeod, Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester, and will feature a selection of the judges. The winner of the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award will be announced at a special ceremony later that evening.