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Helen Oyeyemi.

Helen Oyeyemi has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award. Her story, “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That, Don’t You Think?,” sees its protagonist arrive an office for work only to find “a mysterious locked diary.” Described by the judges as “brilliant,” her story is up against four others: Will Eaves’s “Murmur,” Jenni Fagan’s “The Waken,” Benjamin Markovits’ “The Collector,” and Cynan Jones’s “The Edge of the Shoal”—a shortlist that has been described as “enduring, bold, humane and moving.”

Founded in 2005 by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), with support from BBC Radio and Prospect magazine, the BBC National Short Story Award rewards an outstanding short story of a given year with 15,000 pounds. The 2017 award received 600 entries.

The judges include Eimear McBride, Baileys Prize winner for A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, and Joanna Trollope. The panel described their choices as “a veritable festival of ideas about identity, the innate and the capacity of both for transformation…or not.”

These are stories about what is hidden, what is revealed, what can be lost and what will remain. While they inhabit very different imaginative, linguistic, political and artistic landscapes, these are the ideas that bind them together and have made each one such a pleasurable discovery for me.

All five of our shortlisted writers have embraced the freedom that short fiction offers and all their stories sing out, enduring, bold, humane and moving. However different in style and shape, they prove just how exciting and current the short story is in the UK just now.

The winner will be announced on 3 October.

Congratulations to Helen Oyeyemi.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017), for which he was shortlisted. His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. His conversations appear in Africa in Dialogue, Bakwa, SPRINNG, and Dwartonline. He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (October 2016), focuses on Nigerian cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. Born in Aba, he combined history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

2 Responses to “Helen Oyeyemi Shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award” Subscribe

  1. Praise 2017/09/20 at 04:18 #

    I’d like to read her book

  2. john 2017/09/20 at 17:07 #

    congratulation Helen for being shortlisted for BBc National short story award…..

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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