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.