The BBC National Short Story Award 2021

Format: Paperback
Book type: Anthology
ISBN-13: 9781912697496
Published: 13 Sep 2021


RRP: £7.99

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A group of teenage boys take turns assessing  each other’s changing bodies before a Friday night disco…


A grieving woman strikes up an unlikely friendship with a fellow traveller on a night train to Kiev…  


An unusually well-informed naturalist is eyed with suspicion by his comrades on a forest exhibition with a higher purpose… 


The stories shortlisted for the 2021 BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University take place in liminal spaces – their characters find themselves in transit, travelling along flight paths, train lines and roads, or in moments where new opportunities or directions suddenly seem possible. From the reflections of a new mother flying home after a funeral, to an ailing son’s reluctance to return to the village of his childhood, these stories celebrate small kindnesses in times of turbulence, and demonstrate a connection between one another that we might sometimes take for granted. 


The BBC NSSA is one of the most prestigious prizes for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. 


James Runcie is joined on the judging panel by a group of acclaimed writers and critics including: Booker Prize shortlisted novelist Fiona Mozley; award winning writer, poet and winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize, Derek Owusu; multi-award winning Irish novelist and short story writer, Donal Ryan; and returning judge, Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio.


Join us at our upcoming events at Small Wonder Festival (in-person) and the Northern Short Story Festival (online).


The shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award 2021 was announced on BBC Radio 4's Front Row programme on Friday 10th September. Listen back here.

Front Row will broadcast interviews with each of the 2021 shortlisted writers on BBC Radio 4 and on BBC Sounds from 7:15pm on Thursday 16th, Friday 17th, Monday 20th, Wednesday 22nd & Friday 24th September 2021.  

Listen to an interview with Lucy Caldwell here.

Listen to an interview with Rory Gleeson here.

Listen to an interview with Georgina Harding here.

Listen to an interview with Danny Rhodes here.

The shortlisted stories will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and on BBC Sounds from Monday 20th to Friday 24th September 2021 from 3:30 - 4pm.

Listen to Lucy Caldwell's story 'All the People Were Mean and Bad' here

Listen to Rory Gleeson's story 'The Body Audit' here

Listen to Georgina Harding's story 'Night Train' here.

Listen to Danny Rhodes' story 'Toadstone' here.

Listen to Richard Smyth's story 'Maykopsky District, Adyghe Oblast' here.

The announcement of the winners of the two awards and a celebration of the 16th anniversary of the BBC National Short Story Award will be announced in a special short story edition of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7:15pm on Tuesday 19th October. 

Read an interview with author Lucy Caldwell about her WINNING story 'All the People Were Mean and Bad' at The Irish Times.

Read the shortlist announcement in The Belfast Telegraph and The Irish Post.

Read an interview with all shortlistees about their stories and their advice for new writers at The State of the Arts.

Read a piece by shortlistee Danny Rhodes about the origins of his story 'Toadstone' on his blog here

Read a piece on 'how to write a great short story' by judge Donal Ryan for The Guardian.

Read a review of the anthology by California Reading

"This year the competition is strong. The range of stories and the craft that has gone into creating them is immense." - Two Dog's Blog