The finalists for the National Short Story Prize were announced on Friday and include Hanif Kureishi, Julian Gogh, Jackie Kay, Jonathan Falla and David Almond.The award aims to raise the profile of this rather neglected form (in Britain at least). As chair of the judges, Mark Lawson, says: This prize exists partly because many - perhaps even most - publishers and literary editors still regard the novel as the most important form of story-telling and are suspicious of short stories. ... But this year's selection makes very clear that there is no connection at all between word-count and the scale of subject matter or characterisation that can be achieved. You can find out more about the prize (which will be awarded on 23rd April) and read what some of these writers think about the short story on the Story Story website. There are also short stories by leading writers for you to download for free as well as plenty of information about writing the short story.Also announced was the shortlist for one of the most interesting awards of the year, the Ondaatje Prize (founded by Christopher Ondaatje and awarded by the Royal Society of Literature to the book, in any genre, which best invokes the spirit of a place).
Coleridge biographer Richard Holmes describes what the judges were looking for:
The selected books include memoir, a novel, biography and exploration of ideas:It is much more than a mere physical description of a landscape or cityscape. It is more than an exotic landscape or local colour. ... It is a particular kind of rootedness that may exist in geography, history, memory, or in particular people. We have looked for books that take us on some kind of journey, and favoured those that have that indefinable quality; an accumulated atmosphere; a power to haunt the reader long after the last page is turned.
Anne Applebaum - Gulag: A History of the Soviet Camps
Jonathan Bate - John Clare
Susan Elderkin - The Voices
Robert Macfarlane- Mountains of the Mind: A History of Fascination
Bryan Magee - Clouds of Glory: A Hoxton Childhood
Louisa Waugh - Hearing Birds Fly: A Year in a Mongolian Village
The prize will be presented on 18 May.
More award news to come!