Thanks so much to our judges, Alison Moore for the short stories and Tania Hershman for flash fictions, for taking part in the 2017 Short Story Prize and Flash Fiction Prize. They have now made their decisions and I’m delighted to announce the winners of the top three spots for each. Congratulations everyone.
2017 Short Story Prize Winners
First Prize: Calvo Marsh by Karen Featherstone
Alison said: I admired this clever, jocular and painful story about a nighttime journey into coastal marshland and the narrator’s disintegrating sense of identity.
Second Prize: Home Improvements by Joanna Campbell
Alison said: A child’s-eye view of a troubled marriage, with a well-constructed and deftly controlled narrative and a poignant ending.
Third Prize: The Distance by Keren Heenan
Alison said: A sensitive and touching exploration of the complex and shifting relationship between a daughter and her ageing mother.
Highly Commended: An Entry in the Yellow Book by Dianne Bown-Wilson
Alison said: The intrigue builds to an unexpected ending that is both satisfying and haunting.
2017 Flash Fiction Prize Winners
First Prize: While My Wife is Out of Town by Jude Brewer
Tania said: This story grabbed me right away from the title, it promises so much, it’s bursting with tension, and it tells you so much! Then comes that fantastic first line, the old horror story trope about having to go into the basement, but with the humour about carrying the cat.
This narrator’s voice was so strong and I was hooked, I was right there with him, enjoying myself enormously. I had complete confidence that the author had complete confidence and wouldn’t let me down. The story immediately surprises by not going anywhere near the basement and becomes a kind of list, of all the things he’s doing while she’s not there, odd, funny, wonderful things, and I am smitten. This is a story that takes risks in its structure, going off on tangents, not following a linear narrative, and the risks pay off. It is dark and funny and moving and strange. There is not a word too many or too few, and every word is precisely chosen, the character’s voice never strays. The ending: perfect. I could read this again and again and again.
Second Prize: Impermanent Facts by Lucie McKnight Hardy
Tania said: This is such a beautiful piece, which takes place over a few minutes and a whole lifetime. It is written with authority, no equivocating, straight into the action. It is very physical, with the vacuuming and the cupboard – and the smell, how often do writers make use of this sense? We should all do it more. The writer doesn’t spend time introducing our character, telling us anything, because there is no need. Everything we need is here. Such care is
also taken with the shape of it on the page, the three lines that begin with “She”, and then the two final lines beginning with the letter “A”, and this structure works for the story too, as it does for a poem.
The most important thing is that this story is almost unbearably moving precisely because it doesn’t look straight at the Terrible Thing at its heart, until that one line at the end. The bulk of this gorgeous short short story is about ladybirds. But of course it isn’t. Stunning.
Third Prize: The City of Stories by Tamar Hodes
Tania said: Great title, and from the opening line the writer sets the scene and sets the tone. We think we know what kind of story this is, a traditional village tale. But then a few lines in, all our expectations our overturned, narratively-speaking, and we find that this is metafiction, it’s a story about stories and about the danger of cliches, and it makes its point wonderfully, amusingly and in just as many words as needed and no more.
Congratulations again to all the writers on the long and shortlists.
The anthology of all winning and shortlisted stories will be published later this year so you’ll be able to read them soon. In the meantime, you can read last year’s winners in the What Was Left anthology. Get a copy here.
The details of the 2018 Short Story Prize and Flash Fiction Prize are now online and open for submissions. The prizes have gone up and the entry fees have gone down and I’m thrilled to have signed up two great new judges. We look forward to reading your stories. Get the info on the links below: