Skip to content Skip to main menu

Judges announced for The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award 2021


Romesh Gunesekera, Yiyun Li, David Mitchell, Curtis Sittenfeld and Andrew Holgate to judge the world’s richest short story prize

A prestigious and highly experienced panel of judges has been announced for this year’s Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award, the world’s most valuable prize for a single short story, worth £30,000 to the winner. The judging panel for the 2021 award will comprise acclaimed short-story writer and Booker Prize shortlisted novelist Romesh Gunesekera; Yiyun Li, the 2015 winner; the double Booker-shortlisted novelist David Mitchell; and Curtis Sittenfeld, who was shortlisted for the Award in 2018. Andrew Holgate, Literary Editor of The Sunday Times, completes the line-up.

Judge Curtis Sittenfeld commented:

"I'm thrilled to have the chance to read stories by so many talented, established and up-and-coming writers. During a time when we're all separated from one another, stories can be such a rich source of comfort, entertainment and stimulation, and such an important reminder of what is universal in the human experience."

Previous judges represent some of the best fiction writers working today and include Roddy Doyle, David Nicholls, Diana Evans, Sebastian Faulks, Tessa Hadley, Joanna Trollope, Lionel Shriver, AS Byatt, Nick Hornby, Hanif Kureishi, Mark Haddon, Will Self, Sarah Hall, Rose Tremain and Kit de Waal. The judges read the entries ‘blind’, without knowing the author’s identity. The success of past judging panels has seen the Award celebrate not only the work of literary giants, but has allowed it to discover and promote new and emerging talent such as Danielle MacLaughlin, Louise Kennedy, Roshi Fernando, Rebecca F John, Sally Rooney and last year's winner, Niamh Campbell.

The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award is a hugely prestigious international prize open to any novelist or short story writer from around the world who is published in the UK. Audible, a leading provider of audio storytelling, is the sponsor again this year.

Judge Andrew Holgate commented:

We’ve had some amazing judging panels over the past eleven years of the Award, but I am incredibly excited that this year we have our first transatlantic panel. I’m really honoured that they have all agreed to be judges, and I can’t wait for our discussions to begin.”

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. Contributors include: Mark Haddon, Colm Tóibín, Yiyun Li, Chris Power, Kevin Barry, Kate Mosse, Tracey Chevalier, Ingrid Persaud, Elizabeth Strout and Sarah Waters.

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, Danielle McLaughlin and 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.

Judges of The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award 2021

Andrew Holgate has been the Literary Editor of The Sunday Times since 2008. Amongst many other prizes and awards, he has previously been a judge for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Orwell Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the Betty Trask Award. He is also a member of the Folio Prize Academy and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Romesh Gunesekera is the author of many acclaimed works of fiction including Reef, which was shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize, The Sandglass, winner of the inaugural BBC Asia Award, and The Match, a ground-breaking cricket novel. His debut collection of stories, Monkfish Moon, was a New York Times Notable Book. Noontide Toll, published in 2014, captured a vital moment in post-war Sri Lanka. His latest novel, Suncatcher, returns to an earlier era and a story of divided loyalties and endangered friendship in the Ceylon of the 1960s. Suncatcher is now available as an audiobook from Audible, narrated by the author. His fiction has been translated into over a dozen languages and he is the recipient of many awards including a Premio Mondello in Italy. He was born in Colombo and lives in London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was the chair of judges for the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and has also judged many other prizes including the Caine Prize and Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists 2013.

Yiyun Li is the author of four novels, two story collections, and a book of essays, including PEN/Jean Stein award-winning Where Reasons End, and her most recent novel, Must I Go. Her story, A Sheltered Woman, won the 2015 Sunday Times Short Story Award. She has received fellowship from MacArthur Foundation and Guggenheim Foundation, and is a 2020 winner of Windham Campbell Prize. She teaches at Princeton University.

David Mitchell is the author of the novels Ghostwritten, number9dream, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, The Bone Clocks and Slade House. He has been shortlisted twice for the Booker Prize and has won the John Llewellyn Rhys, Geoffrey Faber Memorial and South Bank Show Literature Prizes as well as the World Fantasy Book Award. In 2018, he received The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, given in recognition of a writer's entire body of work. His has co-written for the Netflix show Sense8 and the fourth Matrix movie, due for release in 2021. In addition, David Mitchell together with KA Yoshida has translated from the Japanese two books by Naoki Higashida – The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice from the Silence of Autism and Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism. He lives in Ireland with his family.

Curtis Sittenfeld is the best-selling author of six novels, most recently Rodham. Her first story collection You Think It, I'll Say It was picked for Reese Witherspoon's Book Club; her second collection is titled Help Yourself. Her books have appeared on numerous Best Books of the Year lists and have been optioned for television and film. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, The Financial Times, and the Best American Short Stories, of which she was the 2020 guest editor.


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.

Previous Winners

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.

About Audible
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.


Longlist announcement: 2 May
Shortlist announcement: 6 June
Winner announcement: 8 July

See more news articles