The BBC National Short Story Award is open for entries, and is partnered with the University of Cambridge for 2018. The competition runs annually and this year Mel Giedroyc, the comedian, writer and former presenter of The Great British Bake Off, is the head of the judging panel along with four other award-winning writers and poets. Many well-known writers received commendations in the competition early in their careers, including Zadie Smith, Jon McGregor and Hilary Mantel.
Cynan Jones was the 2017 winner with his story ‘The Edge of the Shoal’ which explores ‘the fragility of human existence and our place within the world’, centring around a man who goes out to scatter his father’s ashes. The story was praised for its focus on emotions and for stripping human life down to its most basic form. As Cynan points out, the short story form should focus on a moment rather than a plot, something ‘The Edge of the Shoal’ achieves through its engaging reflection on the nature of existence.
Cambridge University and the award’s other partner, the charity First Story, will support the National Short Story Award, along with two other awards, the BBC Young Writers’ Award and the BBC Student Critics’ Award. The awards aim to encourage young people to take an interest in reading and writing. Cambridge University will also hold a short story symposium at the Institute of Continuing Education in July this year, along with an online exhibition of artefacts from the archive of the UL.
The prize money for the competition is £15,000 for the winner and £600 for the other four shortlisted writers. The deadline for entry is 9am on Monday 12th March 2018. Stories can be up to 8000 words and the shortlisted entries will be read on BBC Radio 4 in September, and the winner on 2nd October 2018. For more information, visit the BBC website.