Friday, July 25, 2008

Short story collection news: Short story collection wins New Zealand's Montana Medal for Fiction or Poetry.

Charlotte Grimshaw's collection, Opportunity, has won New Zealand's prestigious Montana Medal for Fiction. The judges said of the collection: "By turns touching, funny, dark, and redemptive, this is a book for reading through then re-reading in a different order, for following clues, for setting aside and thinking about, and for getting lost in.’" Click here for more information on the award. Grimshaw's collection was longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize in 2007.

Two of the four books shortlisted for the Montana Medal were short story collections, the second being Luminious by Alice Tawhai.

Congratulations to Charlotte, who wins $5000, and who also took home the $1000 BPANZ Reviewer of the Year Award! Read more about her on the New Zealand Writers site.

So many short story collections to read, so little time.

Friday, July 18, 2008

How to sell short story collections

(Cross-posted with TaniaWrites.)

Very interesting guest post over at Dawn's She Is Too Fond of Books blog by Christopher Meeks, author of two short story collections, The Middle Aged Man and the Sea and Months and Seasons, about the process of getting published and how he marketed and promoted his collections. He hired a publicist for the second collection:

I hired a publicist so that the book might be reviewed in publishing industry journals such as Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, places that bookstores and libraries read to select what books they order. My publicist called to say she’d just spoken with Booklist, a major journal for librarians. “They said they rarely review short story collections—maybe two a year—and it has to be from a big-name author.” I wasn’t big name.

If librarians don’t see the book reviewed, how can short story collections get in libraries? If libraries don’t offer a lot of collections, then how do people consider short story collections? If book reviewers don’t consider collections, then it’s not on the radar of ordinary readers. Thus, it’s an extra challenge to get a short story collection seen.

It is saddening, this response from Booklist, as if short stories are so odd, different, unloveable, that of course Booklist wouldn't consider them. Where does this come from, this reaction? Why do we have to constantly defend the short story collection, prove and prove and prove again how it should simply be included - not put on a pedestal and lauded above the novel, just included. What a great loss for all those who miss out on wondrous writing because of this attitude.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Karen Russell longlisted for Dylan Thomas Award for Young Writers

Short Review author Karen Russell's collection, St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, has been longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Literary Prize for Young Writers. The winner will receive 60,000 pounds. For the Short Review of Karen's collection, click here.

Clare Wigfall wins BBC National Short Story Award!

Many many congratulations to Short Review author Clare Wigfall, who has won the £15,000 BBC National Short Story Award for her story, The Numbers. I listened to "The Numbers" the other day and I was deeply moved by it, an amazing story, a little different, strange and beautiful. (You can still listen to it online until Wednesday).

Congratulations to Clare, the youngest shortlisted author, who we interviewed and whose debut collection, The Loudest Sound and Nothing, we reviewed on The Short Review. And congratulations to the other four authors who were shortlisted - and the other 595 of us who sent a story in, even if we didn't make it ... this year. Clare, what will you spend the money on??

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Martha Kearney: BBC Judging the National Short Story Award

This from the Financial Times, where Martha Kearney talks about judging the BBC National Short Story Award.
I have enjoyed short stories through most of my life, and found the process of reading the entries a genuine pleasure. With many younger writers as well as more established names, there was immense variety. There were also some bizarre points of concurrence. What is it in the zeitgeist that made at least three of the entries write about the Sami people of Finland or drove others to choose the Fens or pick the Hindu goddess Kumari as a theme?
She also says:

Overall, we felt that there was a polarisation in the entries, with true excellence at the top of the field and then a drop in quality. Too many of the stories felt like compressed novels. Others had striven too hard for “the big ending” or predictable twist in the tale. The perfect short story arrests the reader’s attention immediately and then goes on to illuminate an entire life through one scene or a few actions.

Full article here: / Arts & Weekend / Living - The Diary: Martha Kearney

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Story competition news: Margot Singer wins 2008 Glasgow/Shenandoah Prize for Emerging Writers

The Pale of Settlement by Margot Singer has won the 2008 Glasgow/Shenandoah Prize for Emerging Writers. Final judge Cathy Hankla, who selected the winning title, writes:

THE PALE OF SETTLEMENT is a stunning collection of interwoven narratives that delves deep into the human need for both belonging and moral integrity. Singer examines origins, cruelties and beliefs in the context of the nefarious nature of memory as a vehicle for obtaining truth. While some of Singer’s characters are literally digging for material shards that might prove ancient texts valid, the ashes of another character are by chance winds. Impermanence and timeless truth struggle in these pages, finding characters, language and form that are at once recognizable and original.

Singer’s short story collection, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, also received an honorable mention for the 2008 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and was a finalist for the 2008 John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Singer wins $2500. For more information, see

Monday, July 7, 2008

Issue 9 July 2008 of The Short Review

Well, we are at issue 9 already, almost at our hundredth review.... not quite!
What do we have this month? Four collections that were longlisted for the world's richest short story prize, the Frank O'Connor international short story award:
While they didn't win, read the reviews and see if any of them take your fancy.

There is an added dimension here: Niki Aguirre, whose collection is reviewed by Sarah Salway (whose own collection, Leading the dance, we reviewed several months ago) herself reviewed Vanessa Gebbie's collection, and both are interviewed on their Author Pages.

I wondered about whether to run these both in the same issue, and then I thought that they could be seen as short story writers who have never met, communicating through their writing. For example, if you combine their interviews you can almost hear them chatting:
TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

Vanessa Gebbie: Something that takes you out of yourself for the duration of the read. Something that leaves you thinking or wondering. Asks the question, 'What if?' I found this quote the other day by the late Bryan Robertson OBE, curator of the Whitechapel Gallery. It sums up what I look for in a story, however long it is, flash, short, novella or novel... "What I look for is…a transcendent ability to soar above life and not be subjugated by it." Isn't that perfect?

Niki Aguirre: ... due to my upbringing, I prefer those that are rich in the oral storytelling tradition. The best ones are the ones you get lost in: multilayered, babbling and chaotic, not necessary neat and linear. If you think about it, when you are sitting in a cafĂ© or a pub telling a story, it seldom goes from point to point: the little asides are the best parts. Stories are often desperate things, dying to be voiced and heard -- nothing calm and organised about that. Although I admire people who can write succinctly and in an orderly fashion while still maintaining a good level of excitement. That’s something to strive for.
Alongside these four collections, we have: uncanny and quirky stories from Richard Matheson (Button, Button) and Aimee Bender (Willful Creatures). Aimee is also interviewed about the book, her second collection. Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things are a little too fragile and fleeting for our reviewer, a Gaiman fan, and the Sea Stories anthology didn't go down swimmingly. 2007's Best of American Short Stories was rather hit and miss, despite being full of big names.

So, some hearty recommendations and some rather more wary reviews.

And: following the poll on this blog, where a majority voted for having direct links from reviews to booksellers (as long as it isn't to just one seller), you can now click straight through from the new reviews to buy the book from the publisher's and author's websites (if available), Amazon, AbeBooks and (used and new) and there is a friendly reminder to visit to find your nearest independent bookstore (if you live in the US). We hope that this makes your Short Review reading experience richer... but don't forget, pass those short story collections around!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Claire Keegan wins the Edge Hill Prize for a short story collection

Thank you to Elizabeth Baines for alerting me to the fact that Claire Keegan has won the Edge Hill Short Story Competition for her second collection, Walk the Blue Fields. Congratulations to Claire, who wins £5,000.

Jhumpa Lahiri Wins World's Richest Prize for Short Story Collection

Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth so impressed the judges of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story award that they decided not to even bother with a shortlist and simply announce her the winner of the €35,000 (£27,000) prize. Congratulations to her and to all those longlisted May this get more people reading short story collections!

For more on the prize, see the articles in the Guardian and the Irish Times.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Short Review author shortlisted for BBC National Short Story Award

Congratulations to Short Review author Clare Wigfall, whose collection The Loudest Sound and Nothing we reviewed a few months ago, has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with her story, The Numbers. The full shortlist is:

Richard Beard Guidelines for Measures to Cope with Disgraceful and Other Events

Jane Gardam The People on Privilege Hill

Erin Soros Surge

Adam Thorpe The Names

Clare Wigfall The Numbers

The winner will be announced at a breakfast on Monday 14 July, and broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Good luck to all five!