The BBC National Short Story Award 2020

Edited by Jonathan Freedland

A young woman’s birthday party is disturbed by the vision of a homeless man sleeping under an arrangement of mocking fruit...

A late-night text conversation goes awry when a forwarded link to a live feed of gathering walruses doesn’t have its intended effect...

A woman hopes a pending announcement to her in-laws will finally give her husband the attention he craves...

The stories shortlisted for the 2020 BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University demonstrate how a single moment might become momentous; how a small encounter or exchange can irreversibly change the way others see you, or the way you see yourself. From the struggles of two women trapped by joblessness and addiction to the hopes of two teenage brothers embarking on a new life without the protection of their parents, these stories show us what happens when we fail to relate to each other as well as the refuge that belonging affords.

Now celebrating its fifteenth year, the BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning writer receiving £15,000, and the four further shortlisted authors £600 each.

The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University was established to raise the profile of the short form and the writers shortlisted for this year’s award join distinguished alumni such as Zadie Smith, Lionel Shriver, Rose Tremain, William Trevor, Sarah Hall and Mark Haddon. As well as rewarding the most renowned short story writers, the Award has raised the profile of new writers including Ingrid Persaud, Jo Lloyd, K J Orr, Julian Gough, Cynan Jones and Clare Wigfall.

 

Press

INCLUDING THE 2020 WINNER - 'THE GROTESQUES' BY SARAH HALL! The first author to win the award twice in it's 15-year history.
Read The Bookseller coverage of the win.
Read The Guardian coverage of the win: 'a tour de force about (among many other things) a boundary-trampling mother who won't let her children exist' - Justine Jordan
Read LitHub's coverage of the win.

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Read an extract from 'Pray' by Caleb Azumah Nelson on the London Review Bookshop blog.

Listen to a reading of 'Pray' and an interview with author Caleb Azumah Nelson on BBC Radio 4. 

"What strikes me most about 'Pray' is how the brothers' world comes to them in pieces..." - David's Book World

Read an extract from 'In The Car With the Rain Coming Down' by Jan Carson on the London Review Bookshop blog.

Listen to a reading of 'In The Car With the Rain Coming Down' by Jan Carson on BBC Radio 4.

"Jan Carson's story revolves around the subtly shifting dynamics of this family. She packs a lot into an essentially mundane situation..." - David's Book World

Read an extract from 'The Grotesques' by Sarah Hall on the London Review Bookshop blog.

Listen to a reading of 'The Grotesques' by Sarah Hall on BBC Radio 4.

"The tone of Hall's narration gives a feeling of being at a remove from reality." - David's Book World

Listen to an interview with Sarah Hall on BBC Radio 4. 

Read an extract from 'Come Down Heavy' by Jack Houston on the London Review Bookshop blog.

Listen to a reading of 'Come Down Heavy' by Jack Houston on BBC Radio 4.

"'Come Down Heavy' is harrowing to read, but that prose is unstoppable." - David's Book World

Read an extract from 'Scrimshaw' by Eley Williams on the London Review Bookshop blog. 

Listen to a reading of 'Scrimshaw' by Eley Williams on BBC Radio 4.

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Watch an interview with Jan Carson on The Writes of Wxman.

Watch an interview with Eley Williams on The Writes of Wxman.

Watch Simon Savidge delve into the anthology and why he loves short stories on his YouTube channel.

Watch The Lonesome Reader discuss the anthology in his September 2020 book haul.

Watch a panel discussion featuring shortlisted authors Eley Williams and Caleb Azumah Nelson, in convrsation with 2020 judge Lucy Caldwell and the BBC's Di Speirs for FREE on the Charleston Trust YouTube channel. 

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Read the shortlist announcement in The Bookseller. 

Read the shortlist announcement on BookBrunch. (£)

Read 2020 judge and former shortlistee Lucy Caldwell's latest short story recommendations at The State of the Arts.

Read 2020 judges Irenosen Okojie, Lucy Caldwell and Chris Power choose their favourite short reads for Marie Claire.

Read an interview with 2018 winner Ingrid Persaud about her novel Love After Love and her writing career since winning the prestigious prize at Wasafiri.

Read 2020 judge Chris Power's article on the best stories to read right now, with input from previous BBC NSSA winners and shortlistees, at The Guardian.

Read an interview with Sarah Hall on The Writes of Womxn.

Read a review of the shortlist collection by Catriona Fida.

Read our micro reviews of the stories in the 2020 anthology on The Comma Press Blog.

 

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Book Details

ISBN-10
1912697351
ISBN-13
9781912697359
Published
11 Sep 2020