Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Fourth Birthday to The Short Review!

Happy birthday! This month The Short Review turns four years old. 

439 story collections and anthologies reviewed, by our forty or so reviewers worldwide, and over 250 authors interviewed... We all do what we do for love of the short story and to spread the word about as many short story collections as possible so readers can get hold of them, demand them from their local bookshops or libraries, buy them as presents.  

Four years on, we are so overwhelmed with offers of collections to review that we have had to declare a hiatus in accepting new review copies so that we can catch our breath! A good sign, we think. A very good sign! How could you help us celebrate our birthday? Tell someone about a short story collection you love. Tell ten people. Spread it around!

This month's issue includes an unprecedented seven reviews of multi-author anthologies, which means that we are bringing you short stories by more authors than ever before! From women aloud to the bride stripped bare, the gold boy and the emerald girl, the best british and european fiction, what doesn't kill you if you're with the bears or on the Paris metro in nineteen seventysomething... and...

... Giveaways - In honour of our birthday - and of the UK's National Short Story Week - we are giving away NINE books: 4 of the books we are reviewing this month - and an extra 5 short story collections! You could win Best British Short Stories 2011, Best European Fiction 2012, the National Short Story Week charity audiobook anthology Women Aloud - and Affirm Press's Long Story Shorts set of six short story collections, which includes Barry Divola's Nineteen Seventysomething.

Visit the Competitions page to find out how to win.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Shortlistees for the BBC National Short Story Award 2011

Huge congratulations to Short Review author Alison MacLeod, one of the five shortlistees for this year's BBC National Short Story Award, announced tonight! Her fellow honorees are: Jon McGregor, MJ Hyland, KJ Orr and DW Wilson. More information here - and you can listen to all the shortlisted stories on BBC Radio 4 next week!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A quick word about speed

One of the most interesting things for me, as editor of The Short Review, is seeing how different authors answer our standard author interview questions. The first question "How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection" often brings forth comments along the lines of Bret Anthony Johnston's in this month's issue: "I’ve always known that I’m a slow writer, but man oh man; looking at it this way really highlights it to an embarrassing degree." How long did it take Johnson to write Corpus Christi? Five years. Is this extraordinarily slow? Is there reason for his embarassment. Well, according to our survey, absolutely not.

So, to make Bret - and frankly all of us writing short stories - feel better, let's take a quick look:

Mary Akers: Let’s see, I wrote the first story back in 1997, and the last story in 2007, so the math is easy. Ten years.

Allison Amend: The earliest story was written in 1997; the last was written expressly for the collection in 2008.

Paolo Bacigalupi: The first, Pocketful of Dharma was written in 1998, the last was written in 2007, so... 9 years?

Rusty Barnes: These stories were written between 1999 and 2006.

Kevin Barry: They’d been slowly oozing from my fetid little brain onto the computer screen for the best part of seven years.
Alan Beard: Thirteen years since my first collection (Taking Doreen out of the Sky), and that took twelve years to complete.

Aimee Bender:  About six years.

Regi Claire: To be honest, quite a few years (my guess is six)!

Ramola D: I think the stories that ended up in this collection were written across about twelve years.

Lise Erdrich: I could say twenty years, since that is when they first started to get published here and there.
Deborah Kay Davies: It took about 10 years altogether. 
Charles Lambert: I wrote the oldest story here (Beacons) over fifteen years ago and the most recent (Something Rich and Strange) last year.
Kelly Link: Altogether, I wrote these stories over the course of fifteen years.
Alison MacLeod: Eek. Should I admit this? A ‘debut’ collection makes the author sound so new, almost virginal, but the truth is the stories in the collection were written over a period of twenty years.
Clare Wigfall: Almost a decade.
Tamar Yellin: About twelve years.

Okay, I could go on and on...but I think you get the point. There are a number of authors who wrote all their stories in a year or two (or even six months, Warren Adler, and four months for Rob Shearman) but the majority, who didn't have a collection in mind as they wrote, took years and years. Are you a hare or a tortoise? What does this mean? What pithy conclusion can be drawn?

Perhaps just this: it takes as long as it takes. Yup.Let's leave it there.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Help Save Short Stories on BBC Radio!

Following swiftly in the footsteps of the first short story festival in Bristol, UK, ShortStoryVille, which was hugely successful - comes the distressing news that BBC Radio 4, which until recently broadcast a short story in the Afternoon Reading programme 5 days a week, which was then reduced to 3 days a week - and now will be only once a week. This is the BBC - who only a few years ago was proud to announce the BBC National Short Story Award, and on their website say:
The BBC National Short Story Award, managed in partnership with Booktrust, continues to serve as a reminder of the power of the short story and to celebrate a literary form that is proving ever more versatile in the twenty first century, enjoyed not just on the page, on air and increasingly on every sort of screen, but also in flash fiction events, short story festivals and slams. The short story has moved beyond the revival of recent years and is now experiencing a golden age.
BBC Radio 4 is the world's leading broadcaster of short stories and a staunch and long-time supporter of the form. Short stories are broadcast every week, attracting over a million listeners.

BBC- you are a "staunch and long-time supporter", don't let us down now!

The Afternoon Reading has for many many years been a showcase not just for well-known writers but for new voices - on a personal note, it was my first "big break", the first time I felt I was taken seriously as a writer, coupled with the joy of hearing my story brought so wonderfully to life. Not only that, the payment the writer receives is no paltry sum and has formed a significant part of my writerly earnings in the years since.

There are many, many writers, listeners and readers who are very concerned about this development. Writer Susie McGuire and Ian, organiser of the UK's National Short Story Week, have formulated the following:

The new Controller of Radio 4, Gwyneth Williams, will be a guest on FEEDBACK on BBC Radio 4 next week. How very timely.
Would you add your name to a letter/question to ask her?
Would you pass on this email to other writers who care about the health of the short story…?
The more of us, & the better known the writers who sign it, the more likely it is to have some effect.
If so, please find below a short, polite question, proposed by Ian of
Reminder: info on her decision to cut the short story’s presence on Radio 4 outlined here
If you’d like to add your signature, please email YES to
ian AT shortstoryweek DOT org DOT uk
& cc to me: info AT susiemaguire DOT co DOT uk
NB – It would be really helpful if you could reply within 24 hours so that the question can be lodged as soon as possible. This is by no means the *only* action interested parties can take, but it’s a start, and I hope you might add your weight to it with this (and further suggestions are welcomed)
Proposed question:
We were surprised and disappointed to learn of the decision to reduce the short story output on Radio 4 to once a week from next spring. Radio 4 has been a great champion of the short story for many years. It is one of very few places in the UK where both new and established writers can have their short stories broadcast to a large audience, and where radio listeners can enjoy readings of the short story form. This move comes at a time when interest in the short story is growing, but paid opportunities for short story writers are still scarce. Could Gwyneth Williams please explain:
1) what has led her to make this decision?
2) whether the short stories on Radio 4 extra will be new commissions or repeats of existing recordings?
3) how this decision fits with the BBC’s sponsorship of the National Short Story Award (and indeed if this will continue?)
If you are moved to do so, please take action, following the instructions outlined above. Signatories so far include:

Clare Wigfall
Sara Maitland
Philip Pullman
Nicholas Royle
Vivian French
James Robertson
Michael Holroyd
Jane Rusbridge
Dr Charles Smith
Sarah Hall
Sarah Hilary
Vanessa Gebbie
Jill Dawson
Lucinda Byatt
Maggie Gee
Sarah Sheridan (Soc of A, Scotland)
Tania Hershman (Ed, The Short Review)
Helena Nelson (publisher, Happenstance)
Morag Joss
Lola Perrin
Jules Horne
Suzanne Bellenger
Richard Beard (Nat Academy of Writing)
Ali Bacon
Nicky Parker, (Publisher, Amnesty)
Dan Powell 
Ian Cundell
Kathleen Langley
John Courtney-Grimwood
Wendy Ann Greenhalgh
Alison Wells
James Wall
K E Bergdoll
Linda Cracknell
Jonathan Pinnock (also see his FB links)
Sarah Salway
Alison MacLeod
Louis Winters
Emily Dubberly
Karen Whiteson
Griff Griffiths
Sara Schofield
Ian Macpherson
Stella Burchill
(and counting...)
Please join us!

ADDENDUM: There is now an online petition here - please sign! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize Shortlist

More congratulations are in order - to the six short story collection shortlisted for the seventh Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize, three of whom are Short Review authors, I'm delighted to say. The €35,000 will be awarded at the Frank O'Connor Short Story Festival in Cork, Ireland, in September.

Here is the shortlist -with links to the three we've already reviewed. Good luck to all!

  1. Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li
  2. Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod
  3. Saints and Sinners by Edna O’Brin
  4. Death is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca
  5. The Empty Family by Colm Tóibin
  6. Marry or Burn by Valerie Trueblood

Friday, July 8, 2011

Congrats - Edge Hill Short Story Prize

Congratulations to Short Review author Tom Vowler whose short story collection, The Method, won the Readers' Prize at the Edge Hill Short Story Prize awards last night! You can read our review of the book here. Congratulations also to Graham Mort, whose collection, Touch, won the overall Edge Hill Prize. A great night for short stories!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2011 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize Longlist

The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize has just announced its longlisted short story collections. As ever, it is a great list to start with if you're looking for some great reading material! As they say on their website, the award "is living up to its international credentials with a long list containing twelve UK writers, twenty-six Americans, four Irish, eight from Canada, two from India, two from Bulgaria and one each from Japan, Nigeria, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, China, Nepal and Spain, spanning four continents."

The non-voting chairman of the 2011 jury is Patrick Cotter, curator of the Award. The voting members of the jury are poet and novelist Thomas McCarthy who served also on the 2006 jury, Kinsale-based novelist and short story writer Alannah Hopkin and Guardian short story blogger Chris Power. This jury will announce a short list in July prior to the award ceremony in September during the Cork International Short Story Festival.

The longlist is as follows (with links to those collections The Short Review has already reviewed):

Clark Blaise The Meagre Tarmac Biblioasis USA

Summer Brenner My Life in Clothes Red Hen Press USA

Jo Cannon Insignificant Gestures Pewter Rose Press UK

Uttara Chauhan Blue Blood Penguin India Canada

Michael Christie The Beggar's Garden HarperCollins Canada Canada

Richard Cumyn The Young in Their Country Enfield and Wizenty Canada

Anthony Doerr Memory Wall Fourth Estate USA  review coming soon

Doug Dorst The Surf Guru Riverhead Books USA

Deyan Enev Circus Bulgaria Portobello Bulgaria

Danielle Evans Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self Riverhead Books USA

Stuart Evers Ten Stories about Smoking Picador UK

Edward Falco Burning Man Southern Methodist University Press USA

Siobhan Fallon You Know When the Men Are Gone Amy Einhorn Books USA

Roshi Fernando Homesick Impress UK

Karen Joy Fowler What I Didn't See Small Beer USA review coming soon

Vanessa Gebbie Storm Warning Salt UK review coming soon

Sue Gee Last Fling Salt UK

Ben Greenman Celebrity Chekhov Harper Perennial USA

Linda LeGarde Grover The Dance Boots University of Georgia Press USA

Tina May Hall The Physics of Imaginary Objects University of Pittsburgh Press USA review coming soon

Alan Heathcock Volt Graywolf USA

Ava Homa Echoes from the Other Land Tsar Canada

Valerie Laken Separate Kingdoms Harper Perennial USA

Yiyun Li Gold Boy, Emerald Girl Random House/ Fourth Estate China

Michael Kardos One Last Good Time Press 53 USA

Gitanjali Kolanad Sleeping with Movie Stars Penguin India India

Sean Mackel The River Guildhall Ireland

Alexander MacLeod Light Lifting Biblioasis Canada

Andre Mangeot True North Salt UK

Javier Marías While the Women are Sleeping Chatto and Windus Spain

Rob Mimpriss For His Warriors Gwasg y Bwthyn UK review coming soon

Mariko Nagai Georgic BkMk Japan

Prem Nath Crowded Rooms Penguin India India

Courttia Newland A Book of Blues Flambard UK review coming soon

Edna O'Brien Saints and Sinners Faber Ireland

Daniel Orozco Orientation Faber USA

Sue Orr  Random House New Zealand New Zealand

E.C.Osondu Voice of America Granta Books Nigeria

Kelcey Parker For Sale By Owner Kore USA

Miroslav Penkov East of the West Farrar, Straus & Giroux Bulgaria

Anne Perdue I'm a Registered Nurse Not a Whore Insomniac Canada

Andrew Plattner A Marriage of Convenience BkMk USA

Dawn Promislow Jewels Tsar Canada

Shann Ray American Masculine Graywolf USA

Mary Rechner Nine Simple Patterns for Complicated Women Propeller USA

Susannah Rickards Hot Kitchen Snow Salt UK

Suzanne Rivecca Death is Not an Option Norton USA

Moya Roddy Other People Wordsonthestreet Ireland

Ethel Rohan Cut Through the Bone Dark Sky Books Ireland

Gretchen Shirm Having Cried Wolf Affirm Australian

L.E. Smith Views Cost Extra Fomite USA

Christine Sneed Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry University of Massachusetts Press USA

Fiona Thackeray The Secret's in the Folding Pewter Rose Press UK

Rabi Thapa Nothing to Declare Penguin India Nepal

Colm Tóibín The Empty Family Viking Penguin Ireland

Matthew J. Trafford The Divinity Gene Douglas & McIntyre Canada

Jessica Treadway Please Come Back to Me University of Georgia Press USA

Paul Tremblay In the Mean Time ChiZine Publications USA

Valerie Trueblood Marry or Burn Counterpoint USA

Salley Vickers Aphrodite's Hat Fourth Estate UK review coming soon

Ferdinand Von Schirach Crime Chatto and Windus Germany

Tom Vowler The Method Salt UK

Susi Wyss The Civilized World Holt USA

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Scott Prize winners and Edge Hill Short Story Prize shortlist

May is clearly a bumper month for short story collection news! First, congratulations to A J Ashworth, Jon Pinnock and Cassandra Parkin, the three winners of this year's Salt Publishing Scott Prize for debut short story collections. Their collections will be published in November, the UK's National Short Story Week. We look forward to our review copies!

And congratulations too to Short Review author Tom Vowler, whose collection, The Method, has been shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize, alongside collections from Helen Simpson, Polly Samson,Graham Mort and Michele Roberts.Winners announced in July, good luck to all!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Short Story Month 2011: The Collection Giveaway Project

I was thrilled to receive an email from Erika Dreifus of the Fiction Writers' Review, about this new intiative for Short Story Month 2011, in May. Here's what it's all about: 
Inspired last year by the Emerging Writers Network—who inaugurated May as Short Story Month three years ago—and the Big Poetry Giveaway for National Poetry Month, Fiction Writers Review is excited to launch our second year of The Collection Giveaway Project: a community effort by lit bloggers to raise attention for short story collections. Warm thanks to FWR Contributing Editor Erika Dreifus, who suggested FWR as a home for this project last year and will not only be participating on her own blog, but will also be helping FWR run the project right here.

FWR - SSM - Wide

To participate in Short Story Month 2011: The Collection Giveaway Project , here’s what to do:
(1) Post an entry on your blog recommending a recently published short story collection (or two, or three).
The post can be long or short, a review or merely a rave. The one requirement is that you, the blogger, have read and loved the book(s) in question.
(2) Offer a copy of the book (or each book) as a giveaway to one lucky person who comments on your blog.
You can choose the winner through a drawing, or by the wittiness of his/her remarks, or by whatever criteria you choose.
NOTE for blogger-authors: You can absolutely give away a copy of your own collection—but in an effort to keep this as much about community as publicity, please also offer to give away a second book that isn’t one of yours.
(3) Announce the winner(s) on May 31, 2011, and arrange to send out copies of any books you are giving away.
If you’re participating, drop Erika an email at erika [at] to let us know. We’ll add you to the list of participating blogs/sites and link to you from this frequently updated page on our site.
Check back May 1 for the official launch, but we’ll update the list throughout May!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Edge Hill Prize 2011 Longlist Announced

The longlist has just been announced for Edge Hill University's Short Story Prize 2011. This is the fifth year of the prize,  the UK's only literary award for a published collection of stories - won last year by Jeremy Dyson, who is one of this year's judges, together with Stuart Maconie and Marcus Gipps. You can read our interview with prize organiser Ailsa Cox here. The shortlist will be unveiled in May.

Here is this year's longlist, with links to those we've reviewed, so you can check out some of what the fuss is all about!:
  • Martin Bax - Memoirs of a Gone World (Salt Publishing). 
  • Alan Beard - You Don't Have to Say (Tindal Street Press). review coming soon
  • Peter Bromley - Sky Light and Other Stories (Biscuit).
  • Jo Cannon - Insignificant Gestures (Pewter Rose Press).
  • Roshi Fernando - Homesick (Impress Books).
  • David Gaffney - The Half-life of Songs (Salt Publishing).
  • Vanessa Gebbie - Storm Warning, Echoes of Conflict (Salt Publishing). review coming soon
  • James Kelman - If it is Your Life (Penguin).
  • Andre Mangeot - True North (Salt Publishing). review coming soon
  • Jay Merill - God of the Pigeons (Salt Publishing). 
  • Magnus Mills - Screwtop Thompson (Bloomsbury). 
  • Graham Mort - Touch (Seren).
  • Nik Perring - Not So Perfect (Roast Books).
  • Susannah Rickards - Hot Kitchen Snow (Salt Publishing). review coming soon
  • Michele Roberts - Mud, Stories and Sex and Love (Virago).
  • Polly Samson - Perfect Lives (Virago). review coming soon
  • Helen Simpson - Inflight Entertainment (Random House). 
  • Fiona Thackeray - The Secret's in the Folding (Pewter Rose Press).
  • Tom Vowler - The Method and Other Stories (Salt Publishing). 
  • Susie Wild - The Art of Contraception (Parthian).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Scott Prize shortlist announced

The shortlist for Salt Publishing's 2011 Scott Prize for unpublished debut short story collections has been announced. Says Salt: "This prize forms part of Salt’s commitment to the short story and to our mission to discover and nurture new talent from around the English-speaking world." The shortlist is:

Adam Prince (Knoxville, US): The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men
Andrea Ashworth (Lancashire, UK): Somewhere Else, or Even Here
Cassandra Parkin (E. Yorks, UK): New World Fairy Tales
Guy Ware (London, UK): Witness Protection
John Haggerty (CA, US): The Other Half of Graceland
Jonathan Pinnock (St Albans, UK): Dot (.), Dash (-)
Julie Mayhew (Herts, UK): A Little Death
Michael Downs (Baltimore, US): The Greatest Show
Nicole Reid (IN, US): If You Must Know
Virginia Gilbert (Dublin, Ireland): Abroad

Many congratulations to all the shortlisted authors! Winners will be announced in April and The Short Review looks forward to reviewing the winning collections when they are published.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Best British Short Stories 2012 Wants to Hear From You

(cross-posted with TaniaWrites)

I mentioned a while ago on my personal blog that Best British Short Stories is back, resurrected by my publisher, Salt Publishing, and edited by Nicholas Royle. He has just finalised the list of stories for the first edition, the 2011 edition, which will be published in April 2011 (see the list here - I'm delighted that it includes No Angel by Bernie McGill, which I chose as 2nd prize winner in the Sean O'Faolain competition), quite a mammoth task, he is to be applauded! And now he wants to know what British short story writers are up to this year.

He told me he wants short stories published "anywhere, could be in American publications or wherever. And not just literary mags – anthologies, newspapers, online etc." But before you get excited and start firing off your beautiful publications to him, he cautions: "People need to be selective, ie not like I was when sending to Giles Gordon & David Hughes for Best Short Stories, way back." If all of us bombard him with everything we have published this year, he will be swamped. So wait, think about it, be choosy. And check out the anthologies Nicholas has already edited (to start with, read The Short Review's review of '68: New Stories from Children of the Revolution).

And then, when you're ready, send them to: or hard copies to Nicholas Royle at Manchester Writing School, Geoffrey Manton Building, MMU, Rosamond St West, Manchester M15 6LL

Friday, January 21, 2011

Short Review Author Among Story Prize finalists

The $20,000 Story Prize, run by Larry Dark (who Sarah Salway interviewed for us here), is an very prestigious annual book award for short story collections written in English and published in the U.S. during a calendar year. It was won last year by Wells Tower for his collection, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned.

The Prize has just announced its three finalists for 2010: Short Review author Suzanne Rivecca for her collection, Death is Not An Option, Yiyun Li for Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, and Anthony Doerr for Memory Wall. Congratulations to all! Winner announced March 3rd.

But that's not all - following the announcement of the finalists, Larry today posted the longlist, and this is an excellent place if you're looking for new short story collections to check out! It's a great resource for us, too - we have reviews in the works of half the collections on the list, will be checking out the other half. Congratulations to all!