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November: short story low-down


SUNDAY TIMES SHORT STORY ROUND UP

Our round-up of the best short story news, with the latest on what you're reading in lockdown and our very exciting new


ICYMI – NEWS FROM THE LITERARY WORLD

The Scottish author Douglas Stuart stormed to victory in November, beating five other authors to win the Booker prize for his debut novel Shuggie Bain – about a boy growing up in poverty in Glasgow in the 1980s, navigating a world scarred by his mother’s addictions. Aspiring writers, take heart! The book, published by Picador, was rejected by 30 publishers. “As someone writing a working-class story – as a boy I always felt excluded by books… – it pays to persevere, and I’m so grateful to be here now,” Stuart said. Read more from the Sunday Times about Stuart’s win. And read one of his short stories, Found Wanting, published earlier this year in the New Yorker.

In October, Sarah Hall won the BBC National Short Story Award – for the second time (the first writer ever to do so). She has been nominated four times in the award’s 15-year history. Her story, The Grotesques, is described as a “timeless and unsettling story” set against a backdrop of privilege and inequality in a university town. It can be listened to on BBC Sounds and appears in Hall’s latest collection Sudden Traveller, published by Faber in 2019. A book, The BBC National Short Story Award 2020, edited by Jonathan Freedland and published by Comma Press, is available to buy now.

A new podcast of the six stories shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award Shortlist is available on Audible. The six episodes, featuring stories from Alexia Tolas, Niamh Campbell, Daniel O’Malley, Louise Kennedy, Namwali Serpell and Shawn Vestal, is free to download for Audible subscribers, or you can buy one-off for £12.99.

The shortlist for this year’s Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award has been announced. It includes Jay Bernard, Naoise Dolan, Catherine Cho, Marina Kemp and Sean Hewitt. The winner, who’ll take home £5,000, will be revealed in December.


TAKE PART IN AN ONLINE WRITING MASTERCLASS WITH GEORGE SAUNDERS

The acclaimed novelist and short story writer, George Saunders – who won the Booker Prize for Lincoln in the Bardo in 2017 – is publishing a guide to writing: A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life. It’s a literary masterclass on what makes great stories work and what they can tell us about ourselves and our world today. The book, which will be published by Penguin in January 2021, is available to pre-order, and if you do so, you’ll have the chance to get access to an exclusive online event – A Virtual Masterclass on Lady with the Dog by Anton Chekhov with George Saunders – which is taking place on Thursday, December 10, 8pm ET (a late one for people in the UK).


CHECK OUT OUR LIBRARY OF WRITING RESOURCES AND SHORT STORY INSPIRATION

Find a wealth of stunning short story recommendations from the world’s best writers and Short Story Award alumni in our Writers’ Picks video library. Authors, including Colm Tóibín, Sarah Waters, Joanna Trollope and Mark Haddon, recommend their favourite short stories in a series of 90-second video clips, and explain why they think you’ll love them, too. Browse the full series and discover some new favourites.

Short story writers looking for inspiration, insight and hand-on tips should look at our How to Write video series, with 10-minute videos from well-known short story writers on various topics of the form. The masterclass series kicked off in summer with Joe Dunthorne talking about generating ideas, followed by Yiyun Li, who discussed structure; Louise Kennedy on dialogue, Cynan Jones on editing, Kate Clanchy on memorable imagery, and Leone Ross on characterisation, to be published at the end of November. Take your fill of all the masterclasses here.


SHORT STORY COMPETITIONS TO ENTER, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award > Of course, please don’t forget that an important deadline is looming: this year’s Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award. Authors with a track-record of publication have just over a week left to enter this year’s award. The deadline is 6pm GMT on Friday 4 December and the winner takes home £30,000. Past winners include Niamh Campbell, Danielle McLaughlin, Junoz Diaz, Kevin Barry and Jonathan Tel. Check out terms and conditions here, and if you’re eligible, submit your winning story here.

Mogford Prize for Food & Drink Writing > The closing date for this short story prize, where food and drink must be at the heart of the winning tale and the winner receives £10,000, is 13 January 2021. Butter up your best story and enter here.

The Caine Prize for African Writing > The Caine Prize for African Writing is an annual literary award for the best original short story by an African writer, whether in Africa or elsewhere, published in the English language. The deadline to enter is 31 January 2021.


FINALLY… WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

What’s your favourite short story or collection of the year? Let us know on Twitter at @shortstoryaward

Compiled by Sophie Haydock


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