BBC National Short Story Award 2016
The London-born writer's 'Disappearances', was described by judge Kei Miller as 'a near perfect example of how the short story works'.
'Disappearances' was inspired by Orr watching a solitary man in a café in Argentina whilst travelling. Surfaces and what lies beneath were a starting point for this story of a retired plastic surgeon who develops a relationship with a local waitress and is compelled to visit the same café every day.
Surprised by his own desire to create a new identity, his plans are thwarted when two women from his past disrupt his new world. Caught off guard, the tension between the life he led and this desire to create a new identity is a pivotal moment
Orr was presented with the prize of £15,000 this evening (Tuesday 4 October) by the 2016 Chair of Judges Dame Jenni Murray at a ceremony held in the BBC's Radio Theatre in London. The news was announced live on BBC Radio 4's Front Row, during a special programme celebrating the short story.
Claire-Louise Bennett, also a debut writer with her first collection recently published, was selected as the runner-up and received £3,000 for her story 'Morning, Noon & Night'. The three other shortlisted authors, Lavinia Greenlaw, Hilary Mantel and Tahmima Anam, received £500.
Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio 4 and longstanding judge of the Award commented:
In a year when the shortlist was supremely well balanced and the judges initially quite divided about a winner, our meeting was full of insight, debate, discussion and courtesy; by its conclusion we were all of a mind. I'm delighted, as are we all, to be honouring as winner, and as runner-up, both the debut writers on the list, both writers who have dedicated themselves to the short story, honing their craft, experimenting with form and finding their unique voices.
K J Orr's precision and clarity, her ability to expose a life in a line and to induce sympathy and disdain, linger long after reading the final paragraph.
Readers can listen to the BBC Radio 4 broadcasts of the shortlisted stories for up to 30 days after their first airing.
The five shortlisted stories are published in an anthology, BBC National Short Story Award 2016. They are introduced by Dame Jenni Murray and published by Comma Press. They are available via the Comma Press website and all good bookshops, and as an eBook.
Writer and presenterJenni MurrayWriter and presenter
Jenni Murray was born and educated in Barnsley, and has a degree in French and Drama from Hull University. She joined BBC Radio Bristol in 1973 and went on to report and present for BBC TV's South Today. In 1983 she joined Newsnight. Two years later, she moved to Radio 4 as a presenter for the Today programme.
She became the regular presenter of Woman's Hour in 1987. Jenni writes regularly for various newspapers and magazines. She is also the author of several books including The Woman's Hour: A History of Women Since World War II and Is It Me or Is It Hot In Here: A Modern Woman's Guide to the Menopause; That's My Boy deals with raising sons and her latest book is Memoirs of a Not So Dutiful Daughter, which examines her relationship with her mother.
In 1998 Jenni was nominated Radio Broadcaster of the Year and in the Queen's Birthday Honours 1999 she was awarded an OBE for radio broadcasting. In 2007 she became a member of the Radio Academy Hall of Fame and was recently given a lifetime achievement award by the Media Society. Jenni is a non-executive director of The Christie hospital in Manchester. In 2010 she won a Sony Award for her interview with Sharon Shoesmith and, in 2011, Sony Gold for an outstanding and exemplary career. In the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours she became Dame Jenni Murray.
Di Speirs worked in theatre and for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation before joining the BBC. She edited the Woman's Hour serial for three years, produced the first ever Book of the Week, and has directed many Book at Bedtimes as well as dramas. She is now Editor, Books, leading the London Readings team and editing Open Book and Book Club on BBC Radio 4 and World Book Club on the BBC World Service.
A long-time advocate for the formidable power of the short story, she has been instrumental in the BBC National Short Story Award since its inception nine years ago and is a regular judge on the panel. She was also a judge of the 2008 Asham Award, Chair of the Orange Award for New Writing 2010 and a nominator for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative (Literature) 2011-13.
Pat Barker was born in 1943. Her books include the highly acclaimed Regeneration trilogy, comprising Regeneration (1991); which was made into a film of the same name; The Eye in the Door (1993), which won the Guardian Fiction Prize; and The Ghost Road (1995), which won the Booker Prize, as well as the more recent novels Another World, Border Crossing, Double Vision, Life Class and Toby's Room. Her most recent book, Noonday (2015) completes her Life Class Trilogy. She lives in Durham.
Ted Hodgkinson is Senior Programmer for Literature and Spoken Word at Southbank Centre. Former online editor of Granta, he has written for a variety of publications and websites, including the Independent, the Times Literary Supplement, the Literary Review and the Spectator and is London correspondent for the Literary Hub.
As a broadcaster and chair he hosted the Granta podcast, appears on radio programmes including BBC Radio 4's Open Book and interviews writers at a range of international festivals. He is also a former literature programmer for the British Council, specialising in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. In 2012 he judged the Costa Poetry Award and is a judge for the 2016 Encore Award for the best second novel
Kei Miller was born in Jamaica in 1978. Kei writes across a range of genres: novels, books of short stories, essays and poetry. His poetry has been shortlisted for awards such as the Jonathan Llewelyn Ryhs Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Scottish Book of the Year.
His fiction has been shortlisted for the Phyllis Wheatley Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First book and has won the Una Marson Prize. His recent book of essays won the 2014 Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature (non-fiction). In 2010, the Institute of Jamaica awarded him the Silver Musgrave medal for his contributions to Literature.
Kei has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University and a PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow. In 2013 the Caribbean Rhodes Trust named him the Rex Nettleford Fellow in Cultural Studies. His 2014 collection, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, is shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection.
About the BBC National Short Story Award 2016
For updates on the Award follow #bbcnssa on Twitter.
2016 Orr 'Disappearances'; runner-up Claire-Louise Bennet 'Morning, Noon & Night'
2015 Jonathan Buckley 'Briar Road'; runner-up Mark Haddon 'Bunny'
2014 Lionel Shriver 'Kilifi Creek'; runner-up Zadie Smith 'Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets'
2013 Sarah Hall 'Mrs Fox'; runner-up Lucy Wood 'Notes from the House Spirits'
2012 Miroslav Penkov 'East of the West'; runner-up Henrietta Rose-Innes 'Sanctuary'
2011 D W Wilson 'The Dead Roads'; runner-up Jon McGregor 'Wires'
2010 David Constantine 'Tea at the Midland'; runner-up Jon McGregor 'If It Keeps On Raining'
2009 Kate Clanchy 'The Not-Dead and the Saved'; runner-up Sara Maitland 'Moss Witch
2008 Clare Wigfall 'The Numbers'; runner-up Jane Gardam 'The People on Privilege Hill'
2007 Julian Gough 'The Orphan and the Mob'; runner-up David Almond 'Slog's Dad'
2006 James Lasdun 'An Anxious Man'; runner-up Michel Faber 'The Safehouse'
Please go to bbc.co.uk/nssa for more information on the BBC National Short Story Award.
Terms and conditions for the 2017 Award are available from 26 January 2017, until the deadline of 6 March 2017.