US AUTHORS DOMINATE THE 2021 SUNDAY TIMES AUDIBLE SHORT STORY AWARD LONGLIST
8 AMERICAN WRITERS IN ELECTRIFYING 15-STRONG LONGLIST
American and female writers prevail on the 2021 longlist for the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award, the world’s richest short story prize. The 15-strong list sees 9 women and 8 American writers nominated, with established authors such as Louise Erdrich and Elizabeth McCracken sitting alongside relatively new names such as Laura Demers.
British writers are represented by two new names, Jonathan Gibbs and Rachael Fulton, as well as non-fiction author Adam Nicolson, who is longlisted for his first work of fiction. With writers from Lebanon and Singapore also making their debut on the list, entries from across the globe once again demonstrate the prodigious international reach of the Award.
"We always judge blind in this award and have no idea about author identity or nationality when we are reading. So for American writers to feature so strongly this year, as they have done throughout the competition's 12-year history, says something significant about the quality of short story writing in the US. The prize, because of that blind reading, also has a proud history of discovering new talent – including Sally Rooney and Louise Kennedy – and I'm particularly excited by the new voices sitting on this list alongside some very well-established names." Judge and The Sunday Times Literary Editor Andrew Holgate
At £30,000 for the winner, this is the world’s biggest and most prestigious prize for an English-language single short story. Longlisted this year are the following American writers:
2015 shortlistee Elizabeth McCracken, 2018 shortlistee Allegra Goodman, Susan Choi, Louise Erdrich, who is the author of seventeen novels, Jamel Brinkley, Laura Demers, Mark Jude Poirier and Daniel Mason. Gráinne Murphy and Susannah Dickey, also an acclaimed poet, represent Ireland. Featured British writers are Rachael Fulton from Scotland, Jonathan Gibbs, and celebrated non-fiction author Adam Nicolson. Rabih Alameddine from Lebanon and Rachel Heng from Singapore complete the line-up.
The themes and locations of the longlisted stories are ambitious and thought provoking, offering dark reflections of current times. Exploring trauma and hope, fractured families, war, loss and ageing, the stories move from a plague in seventeenth-century England to a Native American setting inspired by the author’s own reservation, to a care home in the Far East, and police brutality in modern day Los Angeles.
Now in its twelfth year, the longlist reflects the Award’s consistent reputation as a prize that showcases outstanding new voices as well as established literary authors. The judges read the entries ‘blind’, without knowing the author’s identity. Past discoveries have included Sally Rooney, Lisa McInerney, whose first novel Glorious Heresies won the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, Courtney Zoffness, who won the award in 2018, Roshi Fernando, Louise Kennedy, whose shortlisting in 2019 led to a nine-way auction between publishers for her first work of fiction, Danielle McLaughlin and last year's winner Niamh Campbell.
The 15 longlisted writers and the titles of their short stories are:
Rabih Alameddine – THE JULY WAR
Jamel Brinkley – COMFORT
Susan Choi – FLASHLIGHT
Susannah Dickey – STUFFED PEPPERS
Laura Demers – SLEEPING BEAUTY
Louise Erdrich – OIL OF EMU
Rachael Fulton – CALL
Jonathan Gibbs – A PROLONGED KISS
Allegra Goodman – A CHALLENGE YOU HAVE OVERCOME
Rachel Heng – KIRPAL
Daniel Mason – A CASE STUDY
Elizabeth McCracken – THE IRISH WEDDING
Gráinne Murphy – FURTHER WEST
Adam Nicolson – THE FEARFUL SUMMER
Mark Jude Poirier – THIS IS NOT HOW GOOD PEOPLE DIE
“What a relief it has been to discover fiction flourishing in the short story despite the challenges of this long year of recurring lockdowns. These are stories that open doors to places you might not have known were there.” Judge Romesh Gunesekera
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 Sunday 6th June. The winner will be announced on Thursday 8th July. As sponsor of the 2021 Award, Audible, a leading producer and provider of audio storytelling, will produce an audio anthology of the shortlisted stories.
The Award accepts entries of 6,000 words or under 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. 2021 has seen 903 eligible entries, from over 50 countries, again demonstrating the multinational reach of the Award.
The judging panel for the 2021 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award comprises novelist, short-story writer and 2015 winner Yiyun Li; prize-winning author David Mitchell; best-selling novelist and short-story writer Curtis Sittenfeld; and acclaimed short-story writer and Booker prize shortlisted novelist Romesh Gunesekera. Andrew Holgate, Literary Editor of The Sunday Times, completes the line-up.
Previous winners of the Award include three Pulitzer Prize-winning American authors – Junot Díaz, Anthony Doerr and Adam Johnson – as well as Chinese-American novelist Yiyun Li, CK Stead from New Zealand, Jonathan Tel from the UK, Kevin Barry from Ireland, and Bret Anthony Johnston and Courtney Zoffness from America. Shortlisted authors include Colum McCann, Petina Gappah, Hilary Mantel, Emma Donoghue, Elizabeth Strout, Ali Smith, David Vann, Gerard Woodward, Curtis Sittenfeld, Emma Cline and Miranda July. The 2020 winner was Irish writer Niamh Campbell with her story ‘Love Many’.
The prize continues to extend its reach this year, and its championing of the short story form, with the Short Story Library, which launched in July 2020 on the prize website. It features two strands – a regular monthly ‘How to Write’ masterclass by acclaimed writers, about the mechanics of short story writing, and ‘Writers’ Picks’, a video collection of famous writers talking about and championing their favourite short story. Contributions include: Mark Haddon, Colm Tóibín, Yiyun Li, Chris Power, Kevin Barry, Kate Mosse, Tracey Chevalier, Ingrid Persaud, Elizabeth Strout and Sarah Waters.
‘There's no equivalent of the Man Booker fiction prize for a short story,but the Sunday Times award must come close…’
Sydney Morning Herald
‘The most prestigious prize for a single short story’ Lit Hub
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The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award 2021 key dates:
• Sunday 6th June > Shortlist announced
• Thursday 8th July > Winner announced
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Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels Koolaids, and I, the Divine, The Hakawati, An Unnecessary Woman, The Angel of History, and the story collection, The Perv. His next novel, The Wrong End of the Telescope, will be published by Corsair in Autumn 2021.
Jamel Brinkley is the author of A Lucky Man: Stories (Serpent’s Tail, 2019). The collection, published by Graywolf Press in the United States, was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award. The book won a 2019 PEN Oakland Award and the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His fiction has appeared in The Paris Review and has been anthologized twice in The Best American Short Stories (2018, 2019). Raised in New York City, he currently teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Susan Choi’s first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. Her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. Her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2010 she was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award. Her fourth novel, My Education, received a 2014 Lammy Award. Her fifth novel, Trust Exercise, received the 2019 National Book Award for fiction. She teaches fiction writing at Yale and lives in Brooklyn.
Laura Demers’ short stories have been published in the North American Review, New Voices, Granta.com and the upcoming issue of Appalachian Review. She was nominated for the Pen/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers in 2017 and was a finalist for the Robert Day Award for Fiction in 2021. She won The Masters Review 2018 Anthology Prize award. She received an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths College in London in 2009.
Susannah Dickey was born in Belfast and grew up in Derry. Her second poetry pamphlet, genuine human values (The Lifeboat, 2018), won the 2019 Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize. Her most recent poetry pamphlet, bloodthirsty for marriage (Bad Betty Press, 2020), received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. She holds an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths College, and is currently doing a PhD in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre. Her debut novel, Tennis Lessons, was published in 2020 by Doubleday UK. She lives in southeast London.
Louise Erdrich is the author of seventeen novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. Her novel The Round House won the National Book Award for Fiction. The Plague of Doves won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her debut novel, Love Medicine, was the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Erdrich has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota where is the owner of independent bookstore Birchbark Books.
Rachael Fulton is a Scottish journalist and editor. Her short stories Call and Blood were published in the Bridport Anthology and by The Common Breath in 2020. Another short story, Witches, is due to be published in 2021 and is currently in development as a sitcom. She is editor of the local community paper and splits her time between Castle Douglas and Glasgow.
Jonathan Gibbs is the author of two novels, Randall, or The Painted Grape (Galley Beggar), and The Large Door (Boiler House), and a book-length poem, Spring Journal. His short stories have been anthologised in Best British Short Stories 2014 and 2015, and shortlisted for the inaugural White Review Short Story Prize 2013. He curates A Personal Anthology, which invites writers and critics to dream-edit an anthology of their dozen favourite short stories. He teaches Creative Writing at City, University of London, where he is Programme Director for the MA/MFA Creative Writing. He lives in southeast London.
Allegra Goodman’s novels include The Chalk Artist, Intuition, The Cookbook Collector, Paradise Park, and Kaaterskill Falls (a National Book Award finalist). Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Commentary, and Ploughshares and has been anthologized in The O. Henry Awards and Best American Short Stories. She has written two collections of short stories, The Family Markowitz and Total Immersion, and a novel for younger readers, The Other Side of the Island. She is the recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Salon Award for Fiction, and a fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced study. She lives in Cambridge, Mass.
Rachel Heng was born and raised in Singapore. She is the author of the novels The Great Reclamation (Riverhead, 2022) and Suicide Club (Sceptre, 2018), which has been translated into ten languages worldwide. Rachel's short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, McSweeney's Quarterly and has been recognized by anthologies including Best American Short Stories and Best New Singaporean Short Stories. Rachel received her MFA in Fiction and Playwriting from the Michener Center for Writers, UT Austin, and her BA in Comparative Literature & Society from Columbia University.
Gráinne Murphy’s debut novel, Where the Edge Is, was published in September 2020 and her second, The Ghostlights, will be released in September 2021, both with Legend Press. Gráinne’s short fiction has appeared in the Fish Anthology 2020 (Safekeeping), the RiPPLE Anthology 2017 (The Agatha Christie Bookclub), the Irish Literary Review (Frank & Alfie) and Nivalis 2015 (Full of Grace).
Elizabeth McCracken is the author of seven books, most recently a collection of stories called The Souvenir Museum. Her stories have been published in The Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, and The O Henry Prize. Her last collection, Thunderstruckwon the 2015 Story Prize. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she teaches at the University of Texas.
Adam Nicolson has worked as a journalist and columnist on the Sunday Times, the Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Telegraph, National Geographic Magazine and Granta, where he is a contributing editor. Among his recent books have been The Mighty Dead, The Seabird's Cry, The Making of Poetry (HarperCollins). His work has been nominated for multiple prizes and awards, including The Samuel Johnson Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, The Wainwright Prize, the Costa, and the Scottish BAFTAs.
Daniel Mason is a physician and author of The Piano Tuner (2002), A Far Country (2007), The Winter Soldier (2018), and A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth (2020). His writing has been translated into 28 languages, awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2021), the Joyce Carol Oates Prize (2020) and the Northern California Book Award for Fiction (2019), and shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (2008). An Assistant Professor in the Stanford University Department of Psychiatry, his research and teaching interests include the subjective experience of mental illness and the powerful ways literature, history, and culture shape the practice of medicine.
Mark Jude Poirier is the author the novels Goats and Modern Ranch Living, as well as the story collections Naked Pueblo and Unsung Heroes of American Industry, all published by Bloomsbury in the UK, and Hyperion and Random House in the US. Feature films he has written have played at The Sundance Film Festival, The Toronto International Film Festival, The American Film Festival of Deauville and MOMA NY. Poirier has taught at Columbia University, The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and Harvard University. He was raised in Tucson, Arizona, and now lives in New York City.
Notes to editors:
About the Award
Originally launched by Lord Evans of EFG Private Bank and Cathy Galvin of The Sunday Times in 2010, The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award is the richest prize for a single short story in the English language. Worth £30,000 to the winner, the international annual award aims to promote and celebrate the excellence of the modern short story, and has attracted entries from some of the world’s finest writers.
2020 Niamh Campbell
2019 Danielle McLaughlin
2018 Courtney Zoffness
2017 Bret Anthony Johnston
2016 Jonathan Tel
2015 Yiyun Li
2014 Adam Johnson
2013 Junot Diaz
2012 Kevin Barry
2011 Anthony Doerr
2010 CK Stead
About The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times, founded in 1822, is Britain’s best-selling quality newspaper. It celebrated its 10,000th edition in May 2016 and has won a clutch of awards for its Insight team investigations unit, its foreign reporting and its magazine features and interviews in particular. At the 2020 Press Awards The Sunday Times's Insight team took the popular-life scoop of the year, the political editor Tim Shipman won political reporter of the year, chief foreign correspondent Christina Lamb was named broadsheet feature writer of the year and Chris Haslam was selected as travel journalist of the year.
Among the acclaimed performers who have narrated works of literature for Audible are Zachary Quinto, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins, Emma Thompson and Jesse Eisenberg. Audible Studios has won a Grammy Award, for its production of Janis Ian’s memoir Society’s Child, and has also been recognised with the Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year, for Colin Firth’s performance of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. Audible invented and commercialised the first digital audio player in 1997, and has since been at the forefront of the explosively growing audiobook download segment. On average, Audible members listen to Audible content for 2 hours a day. In 2018, Audible customers downloaded nearly 3 billion hours of content.