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Meet the Shortlist: Joe Dunthorne

Joe Dunthorne was born and grew up in Swansea. His debut novel, Submarine, was translated into sixteen languages and adapted for film by Richard Ayoade. His story ‘All The Poems Contained Within Will Mean Everything to Everyone’ is about the world of writers, providing psychological insight with a humorous touch. Judge Carys Davies described it as ‘an immensely beguiling story, full of universal truth.’

You will be able to listen to Joe’s story, along with the five other shortlisted stories, later this year, when the first-ever audiobook anthology of the shortlist is published by Audible. Please check our News page or follow @shortstoryaward on Twitter for publication details.

Please also join us on Monday when, inspired by Joe’s place on the shortlist as our only British shortlistee, we will be looking at the British writers over the past ten years who have helped shape the Award.

For now, read on for another look at Joe’s Q&A, and for the first paragraphs of his story:

What inspired you to write the story? Is it drawn from personal experience?

I’ve always been interested in authors’ biographies. They’re so odd and artificial: boasting about your own achievements in a supposedly emotionless third person. They also have their own language and clichés which I thought it would be fun to play with. In terms of the content of the story, I am both a new father and a poet who often has to write his own mini-biography so yes – it’s quite a personal story!

How does writing short stories differ from writing full-length fiction, and what do you enjoy about writing in the genre?

I love the risks you can take in short fiction. Over a short journey, voices can be weirder, ideas wilder and structures more experimental.

How do you write? Longhand or typed? Why does your chosen method work for you?

Generally I write poems longhand and stories and novels on the computer. Lately I’ve been ostentatiously writing poems on a 1980s Smith-Corona typewriter. I enjoy the feeling that you’re publishing the poem as you write it.

Which short story collection by another author would you recommend?

Pond by Clare-Louise Bennett and Everything ravaged, everything burned by Wells Tower

What’s your favourite short story of all time? Who would you cast to read it?

'Emergency' by Denis Johnson. I love the way Tobias Wolff reads it on the New Yorker podcast: https://www.newyorker.com/podcast/fiction/tobias-wolff-reads-denis-johnson

Who would you cast to read the story you have entered?

Toby Jones.

What are you reading now?

The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey and Passivity, Electricity, Acclivity by Ella Frears.

And here, the opening to his story ‘All The Poems Contained Within Will Mean Everything To Everyone’

List of Contributors

Adam Lorral, born 1985, is a playwright, translator and the editor-publisher of this anthology. His work for the stage has been performed at the Rosemary Branch, the Maddermarket and downstairs at the Everyman. In 2012, he was awarded a Society of Authors’ grant to develop new bilingual work with the Belarus Free Theatre in Minsk. The following year he was selected by Time Out as one of their fifty creatives who will shape the future. However, nothing in his career so far has meant more to him than this slim volume of poetry. Editing, financing and producing this publication has been a truly life-changing experience for Adam. Changing even the parts of Adam’s life that Adam didn’t want changed! He hopes you enjoy it.

Gabriella Fellman was born in 1996 in Brighton and now lives in Sheffield. Her first collection of poems—the trees, ahem, the trees—will be published this spring. She is the youngest contributor to this project and, therefore, the most forgivable...


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