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Monday 29 September 2014

BBC Short Story Award 2014

Ho hum the Indoor Writer didn't make the final five shortlisted short stories for the BBC award. With a top prize of £15,000 this competition attracts the big names in writing short fiction so it wasn't too much of a surprise when this year's names were released to include: Tessa Hadley, Rose Tremain, Francessca Rhydderch, Zadie Smith and Lionel Shriver. Several of these have recently released short story collections so I'm guessing their agents were keen to get extra publicity. Hilary Mantel has only recently brought out a new short story collection (with the eye-catching title of 'The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher'), so perhaps we can expect to see her name on the shortlist in 2015 ...

If you want to listen to the shortlisted stories you can still get them on iplayer or download the podcasts here

We've listened to all of them. They are well written stories, but to be honest nothing beyond the skill of many writers working in the short story form. Disappointingly none had any fantasy/magic/wonder element that the winning 'Mrs Fox' by Sarah Hall had in bucket loads from last year's award. If I had to vote for my favourites then I'd plump for:
Bad Dreams by Tessa Hadley - I even stopped dusting to listen to this as the atmosphere and language captured me from the beginning
Kilifi Creek by Lionel Shriver - a seemingly lightly written story with dark undertones. This is Shriver's second consecutive year of making the shortlist so hoping she gets in the top 2 this year.

The other 3 stories are:
The American Lover by Rose Tremain
The Taxidermist's Daughter by Francessca Rhydderch
Miss Adele amidst the corsets by Zadie Smith

If you were judging which story would you pick?


  1. Zadie Smith for me - so subversive and cheeky! Shriver is a close second with that layered and quite shocking piece. The rest rather passed me by, I'm afraid.

    1. Agree, Suzanne, the Shriver story ended with a shock - quite a surprise after the light start, but that's what she's good at. Miss Adele was definitely cheeky, but I'm not sure I got all the layers to it - may need to read it myself as I tend to drift on when listening...