BBC NSSA - The shortlist and their stories
Published on: 15 September 2016 Author: James Doherty
Find out more about this year's BBC National Short Story Award shortlist.
The five shortlisted writers will have to wait until 4 October to see if they've won the prestigous award. In the meantime, we invite you to find out more about the shortlisted writers and their stories.
From Friday 16 September each of the shortlisted authors will be interviewed on BBC Front Row, with their story being performed the following day.
We will post links to each of the interviews and stories so you can listen, but before then, discover more about the final five.
Hilary Mantel's 'In a Right State' was inspired by Alan Bennett's account of a visit to A&E (London Review of Books) where he described some of the people as 'habitués'. This story is a witty and poignant portrait of one of those 'habitués' as they experience one night in hospital.
Hilary Mantel was born in Derbyshire, educated at a Cheshire convent and now lives in Devon. She graduated in law and was briefly a hospital social worker, and later a teacher in Africa and the Middle East. She has been a full-time writer since the mid-1980s and has won two Man Booker prizes, the Costa Book of the Year Award and the Walter Scott Prize. In 2015 she received a joint Tony nomination for the Broadway version of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Hilary Mantel was previously shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with BookTrust in 2015.
In Tahmima Anam's 'Garments', three 'garment girls' in Bangladesh attempt to find love, security and honour amidst the brutal reality of their lives. Unsentimental and direct, this story of female friendship was inspired by the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza in Dhaka in 2013.
Tahmima Anam was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and educated at Mount Holyoke College and Harvard University. An anthropologist and novelist, her debut novel, A Golden Age, was winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book. In 2013, she was named one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists. She is a Contributing Opinion Writer for The New York Times and a judge for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.
In Claire-Louise Bennett's subtly witty and evocative 'Morning Noon & Night', the life of a failed academic is told through the rhythm of one day. A slow-burning, sensual story filled with loneliness and humour, it is the story of a life where solace is found in the minutiae of the everyday.
Claire-Louise Bennett was born in Wiltshire but now lives in Galway. She studied post-dramatic theatre and unstageable plays prior to completing her first book, Pond, which was recently shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. Claire-Louise's stories and essays have appeared in The White Review, The Irish Times, and Paper Visual Art Journal among others.
In Lavinia Greenlaw's fairy tale-like 'The Darkest Place in England', 15-year old Jamie yearns for something to happen to her in the village named the 'darkest place in England'. An accidental encounter with a stranger bearing flowers becomes the trigger for a tender story fringed with danger.
Lavinia Greenlaw studied 17th century art and her interest in perception, optical technologies, landscape and questions of travel led to her being the first artist in residence at the Science Museum. She has published five collections of poetry, most recently A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde. Her other works include two novels and the memoir The Importance of Music to Girls. Lavinia Greenlaw was previously shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with BookTrust in 2013.
'Disappearances' by KJ Orr was also inspired by real-life as its starting point came from seeing a man sitting alone in a café in Buenos Aires. Surfaces - and what lies beneath - are key to this richly layered story of guilt and identity as a retired plastic surgeon stumbles across a café one morning and realises he is unknown here; can he create a new identity for himself?
KJ Orr's Light Box, her first collection of short stories, was published in February 2016. Her stories have appeared in publications including Best British Short Stories 2015, the Dublin Review and the Sunday Times Magazine. She studied at St Andrews, UEA, and Chichester, and has published essays and reviews in Poetry Review, the TLS and the Guardian. KJ Orr was previously shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with BookTrust in 2011.