Friday, June 1, 2012

Letter from the Editor - Hiatus

Letter from The Editor

The June 2012 issue will be the last Short Review issue for a little while, the journal will be on hiatus for at least a few months while we take stock and think, for the first time since its inception in 2007, about how to take it forward.

This journal began with me and a few of my friends and has grown beyond my wildest dreams - with over 50 reviewers worldwide. However, success and growth bring their own challenges and what has been done by me and my fantastic deputy editor, Diane, as a labour of love is now becoming somewhat of a burden on us. This is in great part due to technology, and we are in urgent need of funding in order to allow us to upgrade the website to make everyone's lives easier.

This is not the end of The Short Review, there is still nothing - as far as I know - out there fulfilling the same function, much as I wish there were ten such journals, and so we will find new ways to proceed, a new incarnation. We welcome your thoughts and ideas, please post in the comments.

While we are contemplating, please do check out check out our back issues and archives of reviews and interviews, you will find many many ideas of short story collections and anthologies to read! And enjoy our June issue...

See you back here soon.

All the best,

Editor, The Short Review

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

All-Female Shortlist for Edge Hill Short Story Prize!

From  a long longlist, the shortlist for the Edge Hill University Short Story Prize 2012 has been picked - and it's all female!

Now in its sixth year, it is the only UK only award that recognises excellence in a published collection of short stories and has attracted established names competing alongside relative newcomers. This year's event attracted a record number of entries from a diverse range of writers, with interest from a wide range of mainstream publishers and independent presses.

It's the first time that the shortlisting has resulted in an all-female finale. The authors nominated are:
  • A.J Ashworth - Somewhere Else, Or Even Here (Salt Publishing).
  • Tessa Hadley - Married Love (Cape).
  • Sarah Hall - The Beautiful Indifference (Faber).
  • Zoe Lambert - The War Tour (Comma).
  • Rowena Macdonald - Smoked Meat (Flambard).
Dr Ailsa Cox, Reader in Creative Writing and English at Edge Hill University and co-ordinator of the Prize, said: "It's quite unusual to have women only on the shortlist but it reflects that the prize is open to anyone, regardless of gender, whether new to the business or well-established in the literary world.
"We're delighted by the sheer quality and diversity of the shortlist. A good short story is intense and exciting, sometimes sad and often very comic. The five collections all have these vital ingredients - so I predict that judging will be difficult this year."

The judging panel includes the 2011 winner Graham Mort, also known as one of contemporary poetry's finest practitioners, alongside writer and critic Suzi Feay, and Professor Rhiannon Evans, former Pro Vice-Chancellor at Edge Hill University.

The prize has three categories:
  • The main literary award of £5,000. A panel of judges will choose the winner from a shortlist of five collections to be announced in May.
  • The £1,000 Readers' Choice, chosen from the same shortlist.
  • A £500 student prize, which will reward one of the stars of Edge Hill University's MA Creative Writing course.
The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 5th July at the Free Word Centre in London.
Short biographies for the five writers are as follows.
  • A.J Ashworth. This is the Lancashire-born and former journalist's debut collection of short stories, which also won Salt Publishing's Scott Prize 2011. She has previously had stories published in magazines such as Tears in the Fence, The Warwick Review, and The View From Here. She has also been longlisted/shortlisted in competitions including the Willesden Herald International Short Story Competition, the Short Fiction Competition and Fish Short Story Prize.
  • Tessa Hadley. Living in Cardiff, Tessa teaches Literature and Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. She reviews regularly for the London Review of Books and the Guardian and was shortlisted for The Story Award in the US. She has also been a judge for the IMPAC literary prize 2011 and for the BBC Short Story Award 2011. The contemporary novelist has been called one of the most gifted British writers
  • Sarah Hall. The multi award-winning writer from Cumbria is the author of Haweswater, which won the 2003 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel, a Society of Authors Betty Trask Award, and a Lakeland Book of the Year prize. She has been featured in The Times 100 Best Books of the Decade and this is her first collection of short stories.
  • Zoe Lambert. The Manchester-based writer lectures on the creative writing MA at Bolton and Edge Hill universities. She was the founder of cult Manchester literature night, Verberate, and is a member of the board of the North West Short Story Network. She is also finishing her first novel and is an active campaigner for the rights of asylum seekers.
  • Rowena Macdonald. Growing up in the West Midlands, after graduation, she lived in Montreal working as a waitress, bartender, life-model and cleaner. She now lives in London and works at the House of Commons. Her stories have appeared in anthologies published by Serpent's Tail, Roast Books and The Do-Not Press. She has won two Asham Awards, the 2010 Exeter Writers competition and the 2008 Writers Inc competition. This shortlisted first short story collection is based on her experiences waitressing while in Montreal.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Scott Prize winners 2012

Carys Bray and Rob Roensch have won this year’s International Scott Prize for Short Stories. Both writers will be published in November 2012. The international short story prize, now in its third year, recognises the best debut full-length collections in English and receives entries from the UK and Ireland, the USA and Australasia. This year’s winners are Carys Bray (UK) for her book, Sweet Home, and Rob Roensch’s (US) The Wildflowers of Baltimore.

Carys Bray lives in the North West seaside town of Southport with her husband and four children. She is a PhD student and associate tutor in creative writing at Edge Hill University. Her work has been published in a wide variety or magazines and anthologies, including New Fairy Tales where her story ‘The Ice Baby’ was published, and Mslexia which published her story ‘Just in Case,’ winner of the MA category of the Edge Hill Short Story Prize.

Rob Roensch has published short fiction in Slice, HOBART and PANK and elsewhere. He lives with his wife and daughters in Baltimore, Maryland and teaches at Towson University.

Jen Hamilton-Emery [Director of Salt Publishing] said:
‘Since developing the Scott Prize to promote and support debut short story writers, I have read and selected winners from hundreds of manuscripts. This year my task was made particularly difficult by the astonishing level of skill within our shortlist and I would recommend everyone to spend time discovering those writers. Making selections from the shortlist has been difficult but I have focused on the books which I believe have a depth and maturity of talent that all readers will immediately recognise. Carys Bray and Rob Roensch combine impeccable craft with unforgettable imagery to create stories that are surprising, psychologically resonant, emotionally complex and, above all else, a sheer joy to read. Carys and Rob, on either side of the Atlantic, both demonstrate that the short story is thriving and developing in the 21st century and I look forward to working with the writers and publishing their books later this year.’
The other shortlisted authors were:
Alison Moore
Otis Haschemeyer
Julia Bohanna
Chris Smith
Sarah Faulkner
Rusty Dolleman
Julie Mayhew
Maurice Gartshore
Madeleine D’Arcy

Further information on the two winning entries can be found here:
Cary Bray
Rob Roensch

Many congratulations to Carys and Rob, and to all who were shortlisted.

The Scott Prize is an international annual prize for a first collection of short fiction. Entrants must not have been published before, and must permanently reside in the UK & Ireland, the USA, or Australia & New Zealand.
Previous Winners of the Scott Prize are:
A.J. Ashworth (UK) – Somewhere Else of Even Here
Cassandra Parkin (UK) – New World Fairy Tales
Jonathan Pinnock (UK) – Dot Dash (to be published 2012)
Patrick Holland (Australia) – The Source of the Sound
David Mullins (US) – Greetings from Below (to be published 2012)
Susannah Rickards (UK) – Hot Kitchen Snow
Tom Vowler (UK) – The Method

Monday, April 23, 2012

World Book Day

In honour of World Book Day today, April 23rd, we thought we'd step out of our English-speaking world and do a round-up of all the short story collections in translation that we have reviewed over the past 4 and a half years... Pick something you might not otherwise read and take a look... Happy World Book Day!

A Happy Man by Axel Thormählen

A Life on Paper: Stories by Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud
Best European Fiction 2010 edited by Aleksander Hemon 
Best European Fiction 2012 edited by Aleksander Hemon
Best Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant

The Book of Istanbul edited by Jim Hinks and Gul Turner

Blue Has No South by Alex Epstein

The Burning Plain by Juan Rulfo
Gaza Blues by Etgar Keret and Samir el-Youssef

Gregory and Other Stories by Panos Ioannides

The House of Your Dream edited by Robert Alexander and Denis Maloney

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Life is a Dream by Gyula Krúdy
Loud Sparrows: Chinese Contemporary Short-shorts selected and translated by Aili Mu, Julie Chiu and Howard Goldblatt

Paris Metro Tales translated by Helen Constantine
Passport to Crime by Various edited by Janet Hutchings

Tales of Galicia by Andzrej Stasiuk

The Third Shore by Various
Travelling Light by Tove Jansson

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award Longlist 2012

Hot on the heels of the longlist for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize (for UK short story collections) comes the rather longer longlist for the €25,000 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award - it is brilliant resource to find new collections to read, there are some we've already reviewed (see links below), some the reviews are forthcoming, and many are new names, which is great. Good luck to all! Shortlist announced in June.

Steve Almond, God Bless America, Lookout Books, USA
A. J. Ashworth, Somewhere Else, or Even Here, Salt Publishing, UK
Diane Awerbuck, Cabin Fever, Umuzi, South Africa
Lou Beach, 420 Characters, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, USA
Frank Bill, Crimes in Southern Indiana, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, USA
Will Boast, Power Ballads, University of Iowa Press, USA
Greg Bottoms, Swallowing the Past, Texas Review Press, USA
Laura Boudreau, Suitable Precautions, Biblioasis, Canada
Shannon Cain, The Necessity of Certain Behaviors, University of Pittsburgh Press, USA
Neil Campbell, Pictures from Hopper, Salt Publishing, UK
Eileen Casey, Snow Shoes, Arlen House, Ireland
O Thiam Chin, The Rest of Your Life and Everything That Comes With It, ZI Publications, Singapore
Charles Christian, This is the Quickest Way Down, Proxima, UK
Dave Chua, The Beating, Ethos Books, Singapore
K. L. Cook, Love Songs for the Quarantined, Willow Springs Editions, USA
Mary Costello, The China Factory, The Stinging Fly Press, Ireland
Eugene Cross, Fires of Our Choosing, Dzanc Books, USA
Don DeLillo, The Angel Esmeralda, Picador, USA
Stanley Donwood, Household Worms, Tangent Books, UK
Catherine Eisner, Listen Close to Me, Salt Publishing, UK
Nathan Englander, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Alfred A. Knopf, USA
Matthew Firth, Shag Carpet Action, Anvil Press, Canada
Órfhlaith Foyle, Somewhere in Minnesota, Arlen House, Ireland
Matthew Francis, Singing a Man to Death, Cinnamon Press, UK
David Galef, My Date With Neanderthal Woman, Dzanc Books, USA
Dagoberto Gilb, Before the End, After the Beginning, Grove Press, USA
Namita Gokhale, The Habit of Love, Penguin Group, India
Lorna Goodison, By Love Possessed, HarperCollins Publishers, Jamaica
Daniel Griffin, Stopping for Strangers, Véhicule Press, Canada
Tessa Hadley, Married Love, Jonathan Cape, UK
Sarah Hall, The Beautiful Indifference, Faber and Faber, UK
Hanjum Hasan, Difficult Pleasures, Penguin Group, India
Tania Hershman, My Mother Was an Upright Piano, Tangent Books, UK
Keith Jardim, Near Open Water, Peepal Tree Press, USA
James Martyn Joyce, What’s not Said, Arlen House, Ireland
Suzanne Kamata, The Beautiful One Has Come, Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, USA
Jackie Kay, Reality, Reality, Picador, UK
Etgar Keret, Suddenly, a Knock in the Door, Chatto & Windus, Israel
Fiona Kidman, The Trouble With Fire, Random House, New Zealand
Zoe Lambert, The War Tour, Comma Press, UK
Krys Lee, Drifting House, Faber and Faber, USA – South Korea
Adam Levin, Hot Pink, McSweeney’s, USA
Peter Markus, We Make Mud, Dzanc Books, USA
Rowena Mcdonald, Smoked Meat, Flambard Press, UK
Jon McGregor, This Isn’t the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You, Bloomsbury, UK
K. R. Meera, Yellow Is the Colour of Longing, Penguin Group, India
Ana Menendez, Adios, Happy Homeland!, Grove Press, USA
Clemens Meyer, All the Lights, And Other Stories, Germany
Kevin Moffett, Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events, HarperCollins Publishers, USA
Jim Mullarkey, And, Doire Press, Ireland
Sabina Murray, Tales of the New World, Grove Press, Australia
Stuart Nadler, The Book of Life, Picador, USA
Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Mother America, New Island, Ireland
Éllis Ní Dhuibne, Shelter of Neighbours, Blackstaff Press, Ireland
Joyce Carol Oates, The Corn Maiden, Grove Press, USA
Rajesh Parameswaran, I Am an Executioner, Bloomsbury, USA
Cassandra Parkin, New World Fairy Tales, Salt Publishing, UK
Lucia Perillo, Happiness Is a Chemical in the Brain, W. W. Norton & Company, USA
Dave Pescod, All Embracing, Route, UK
Alice Petersen, All the Voices Cry, Biblioasis, Canada
Stephanie Powell Watts, We Are Taking Only What We Need, BkMk Press, USA
Wayne Price, Furnace, Freight Books, UK
Stephanie Reents, The Kissing List, Hogarth, USA
Rebecca Rosenblum, The Big Dream, Biblioasis, Canada
Pamela Ryder, A Tendency to Be Gone, Dzanc Books, USA
Nathalie Serber, Shout Her Lovely Name, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, USA
Johanna Skibsrud, This Will Be Difficult to Explain, W. W. Norton & Company/ Hamish Hamilton, Canada
Yasuko Thanh, Floating Like the Dead, McClelland & Stewart, Canada
Lysley Tenorio, Monstress, HarperCollins Publisher, USA-Philippines
Laura Maylene Walter, Living Arrangements, BkMk Press, USA
Diane Williams, Vicky Swanky Is a Beauty, McSweeney’s, USA
D. W. Wilson, Once You Break a Knuckle, Bloomsbury/ Hamish Hamilton, Canada
Lucy Wood, Diving Belles, Bloomsbury, UK
Barbara Unković, Moon Walking, Old Line Publishing, Croatia
Dina Zaman, King of the Sea, Silverfish Books, Malaysia

Breakdown by Nationality
Australia 1
Canada 8
Croatia 1
Germany 1
India 3
Ireland 8
Israel 1
Jamaica 1
Malaysia 1
New Zealand 1
Singapore 2
South Africa 1
UK 17
USA 28
USA – Philippines 1
USA – South Korea 1

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2012 Longlist

There are all too few prizes for published short story collections worldwide, so it's always exciting when one of them announces its longlist! The Edge Hill Short Story prize for UK short story collections has 3 components: The main literary award of £5,000, The £1,000 Readers' Choice, and a £500 student prize, which will reward one of the stars of Edge Hill University's MA Creative Writing course. The shortlist will be announced in May.

Here are the 31 collections longlisted for this year's Edge Hill Short Story prize, apparently a record number this year (with links to our reviews if we have already reviewed them):
  • Nina Allan - The Silver Wind (Eibonvale). A regular contributor to Interzone and Black Static, and was short-listed for the 2010 British Fantasy Award in the Short Fiction category.
  • Hanan Al-Shaykh - One Thousand and One Nights (Bloomsbury). The Lebanese novelist, short-story writer and playwright, is one of the leading contemporary women writers in the Arab world. Some of her wok has been banned in parts of the Middle East.
  • Gaynor Arnold - Lying Together (Tindal Street Press). The former social worker was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2008 and the Orange Prize for Fiction 2009.
  • A.J Ashworth - Somewhere Else, Or Even Here (Salt Publishing). A prize-winning writer and this debut collection of short stories also won Salt Publishing's Scott Prize 2011.
  • Neil Campbell - Pictures from Hopper (Salt Publishing). He has had numerous short stories and poems published in magazines.
  • Charles Christian - This is the Quickest Way Down (PROXIMA Publishing). He is the founding editor of Ink Sweat & Tears.
  • Stanley Donwood - Household Worms (Tangent Books). He is known for his close association with the British rock group Radiohead, having created all their album and poster art.
  • Catherine Eisner - Listen Close To Me (Salt Publishing). Her fictions have appeared regularly in a number of UK literary journals and she is an Associate of the Royal College of Art.
  • Stuart Evers - Ten Stories about Smoking (Picador). A former bookseller and editor, he now writes about books for the Guardian, Independent, New Statesman, Time Out and many other publications.
  • Orfhlaith Foyle - Somewhere in Minnesota (Arlen House). The writer and poet was born in Nigeria to Irish missionary parents. Living there as well as Kenya and Malawi has had a profound effect upon her writing.
  • Sue Gee - Last Fling (Salt Publishing). An acclaimed novelist and controversial winner of the 1997 Romantic Novel of the Year Award.
  • Tessa Hadley - Married Love (Cape). She reviews regularly for the London Review of Books and the Guardian and was short-listed for The Story Award in the US. She has also been a judge for the IMPAC literary prize 2011 and for the BBC Short Story Award 2011.
  • Sarah Hall - The Beautiful Indifference (Faber). The multi award-winning writer has been featured in The Times 100 Best Books of the Decade.
  • Beda Higgins - Chameleon (Iron Press). The part-time nurse won first prize in the Mslexia Short Story Competition in 2009 and her work has been included in various anthologies and collections.
  • Nigel Jarret - Funderland (Parthian). The Welsh freelance writer and former newspaper reporter is a winner of the Rhys Davies Prize for short fiction.
  • Dave Jeffery - Campfire Chillers (Dark Continents Publishing). He is best known for his zombie novel Necropolis Rising, which has gone on to be a UK number one Bestseller.
  • Fred Johnston - Dancing in the Asylum (Parthian). The writer, journalist and musician from Galway is also the founder of the Western Writers Centre.
  • Zoe Lambert - The War Tour (Comma). The Creative Writing lecturer at the University of Bolton is finishing her first novel and is an active campaigner for the rights of asylum seekers.
  • Stuart MacBride - Twelve Days of Winter: Crime at Christmas (Harper Collins). The Scottish writer is most famous for his crime thrillers.
  • Rowena Macdonald - Smoked Meat (Flambard). This first collection is based on her experiences waitressing while travelling in Montreal.
  • Felicity McCall - A Pitying of Doves (Guidhall Press). This is the first short-story collection from the Irish journalist and award-winning playwright, screenplay writer and novelist.
  • Alan McCormick - Dogsbodies and Scumsters (Roast Books). A Writer in Residence with InterAct, a charity providing fiction readings for stroke patients, his stories have been widely published.
  • Erinna Mettler - Starlings (Revenge Ink). After working at the British Film Institute for 13 years she decided to start writing in between raising a family and is now studying for her MA.
  • Robert Minhinnick - The Keys of Babylon (Seren). The Welsh poet, essayist, novelist and translator has also been short-listed for the Sunday Times Short Story Award 2012.
  • Jim Mullarkey - And (DoirePress). The runner-up in the 2003 Galway Cúirt Poetry Festival has recently facilitated creative writing workshops for adults with learning difficulties.
  • Courttia Newland - A Book of Blues (Flambard Publishing). The rapper and music producer is a British writer of Jamaican and Bajan heritage who was short-listed for the 2010 Alfred Fagon Award and long-listed for the 2011 Frank O' Connor Award.
  • Edna O'Brien - Saints and Sinners (Faber). Once banned in Ireland, the Irish author now has a string of awards under her belt and won the country's 2011 Frank O'Connor prize for this short story collection.
  • Cassandra Parkin - New World Fairy Tales (Salt Publishing). An up-and-coming writer and winner of Salt Publishing's 2011 Scott Prize.
  • David Rix - Feather (Eibonvale). A British writer in the areas of 'Horror' and modern Magic Realism/Speculative Fiction.
  • Robert Shearman - Everyone's Just So, So Special (Big Finish). He is best known as a writer for Doctor Who and has been previously short-listed for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize.
  • Simon Kurt Unsworth - Quiet Houses (Dark Continents Publishing). The British writer of supernatural fiction was nominated for a 2008 World Fantasy Award and his work has been published in a number of anthologies.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award Shortlist 2012

Huge congratulations to Short Review authors Kevin Barry and Tom Lee, whose stories have both been shortlisted for the £30,000 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award - the full shortlist is:

Kevin Barry - 'Beer Trip to Llandudno'
Emma Donoghue - 'The Hunt'
Jean Kwok - 'Where the Gods Fly'
Tom Lee - 'The Current'
Robert Minhinnick - 'El Aziz: Some Pages From His Notebooks'
Linda Oatman High - 'Nickel Mines Hardware'

Winner will be announced on March 30th - good luck to all! An anthology of the six top stories will be published by Waterstones, and there will be several related events in London. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

The 2012 Scott Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for Salt Publishing's Scott Prize is announced! The winners will have their debut short story collections published. Winners announced in April; congratulations all! (Especially to our own Short Reviewer Julia Bohanna...!)
Julia Bohanna (England) – Ink Eyes

Carys Bray (England) – Sweet Home

Madeleine D’Arcy (Ireland) – Waiting for the Bullet and Other Stories

Rusty Dolleman (US) – Other People’s Kids

Sarah Faulkner (US) – American Heartbreaker

Maurice Gartshore (Scotland) – Mother Icarus

Otis Heschemeyer (US) – The Fantome of Fatma

Julie Mayhew (England) – End Of

Alison Moore (England) – A Small Window

Rob Roensch (US) – The Wild Flowers of Baltimore

Chris Smith (England) – Between the Toes of the Cloven Hoof

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Starting Small: A Guest Blog Post By Tara Fox Hall

This week we welcome Tara Fox Hall, whose first story collection, Just Shadows, was published in January. She tells The Short Review how she got interested in short stories:

"Writing careers begin in various ways. For me, it was a short article in a small print magazine that a friend, Harald Moore, put out to promote his catnip farm in Johnsonville, New York. The name of the magazine was Catnip Blossoms! My first article —detailing my curiosity and concern for a turkey I would always see by itself, sans flockmates— was called Lonely. Another article entitled "Good Work"—a rundown about how working on a dairy farm was hard yet meaningful work compared to cubicle existence—quickly followed. Both I submitted it on a lark, and to my surprise, Harald asked to publish them.

In the next year, I published more non-fiction articles, detailing my adventures saving wildlife, my experiences living on an acreage, and humorous recountings of the antics of my wacky pets. I kept publishing stories for the next five years, even as the name of the magazine changed to Meanwhile, and then to On The River, when the catnip farm went out of business, and Harald moved with his family to Troy, NY. Yet even happy with my success as a writer, I longed for an outlet for my fiction ideas, primarily my scary stories. I had longer works of paranormal suspense, and vampire romance, but no publisher or agent I submitted to was interested. The only successes I had to my credit were my short nature articles. I had to build up my publishing credits, but how?

In spring of 2011, it suddenly dawned on me that I had the tools; I just needed a new platform. Resolute, I went looking online to see what horror markets were there looking for shorter stories. It was then I first heard the term “flash fiction.”
When faced with the sheer number of online horror magazines, I was excited, but hesitant, too. Here were calls for stories on multiple sites, in just the genres I wanted to write. But could I write scary fiction the way I had my nature non-fiction? More important, would readers be moved without real life experience to color the stories with emotion? There was only one way to find out.

My small stories of nature paved the way

Using material from nightmares and my imagination, I began churning out stories. To my delight, flash fiction was about 500 words, which was almost exactly the length my nature articles had been. I already knew how to begin and end a story within a page, and draw the reader in. I could do this. My only worry was could I do this well enough to get published?

I submitted a few stories, then scored when Deadman’s Tome published The Hunt in May 2011. Encouraged, I devoted all my spare time to writing short horror stories, submitting them as fast as I could write them, seeking out new markets for each. At first, I had limited success. Rejections clogged my inbox, editors telling me my stories just weren’t what they were looking for. Irritated but determined, I kept as it, reworking each rejected story, and doggedly sending it back out within a few days. A few months passed this way. Desperate, I searched out more markets and wrote more new stories, making them harder hitting, more twisting, and darker than pitch.

In the fall of 2011, I began to hit it big, with story after story being accepted. I had found my horror “voice,” and had both readers and editors wanting more. That cumulated with my publication of Just Shadows in January 2012, an anthology of both previously published horror stories and new work.

I have my first novels coming out this year, with likely more to follow. My small stories of nature paved the way, leading me in a roundabout way to my dream of being a published author, and a novelist. But the short story, particularly flash fiction, will always remain a close friend, one I’ll keep returning to for years to come.

And I haven’t forgotten my affinity for saving wildlife, either. On the River is still being published. I’m still contributing to issues. For the latest one, go to On The River magazine."

Thank you so much, Tara, we hope you'll keep returning to short stories too! Find out more about Just Shadows on Tara's Facebook page and Goodreads blog.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2012 - Year of the... Short Story?

So, there's been a lot of public cries here in the UK of 2012 as "the Year of the Short Story". We here at Short Review towers sigh a little when we hear this kind of thing. With our binoculars, and our microscope, we have not seen any waning of the short story over the past 5 years of our existence, no slowing down of the numbers of short story collections we get offered for review - so we would like to suggest an alternative title for 2012, "The Year Mainstream Publishers Re-Discovered What We All Knew About The Short Story Already"! Catchy?

Anyway, we certainly celebrate any upsurge in short-story-related activity and there does seem to be quite a bit here - from The Telegraph newspaper's Short Story Writing Club to a "short story newspaper" as reported in The Bookseller, Random House's Random Shorts (more coming soon on that) and Penguin Shorts.

One of the most exciting developments is that Bloomsbury is publishing 5 short story collections in the first five months of 2012! We thought we'd better find out a bit more, so we put some questions to Bloomsbury fiction editorial director Helen Garnon-Williams:

The Short Review: We were very excited to hear that Bloomsbury is publishing 5 short story collections during the first 5 months of 2012, surely a record for any UK publisher! Can you tell us a little about each collection? Are they debut collections? UK-based authors? 

Helen Garnon-Williams: We are thrilled to be launching five completely wonderful and very different short story collections out into the world this Spring. One collection comes from America, one from a Canadian author living in England, and three others from British writers. There are four debuts and one long-awaited collection from a Booker-nominated novelist.

The first collection, Diving Belles and Other Stories, is by Lucy Wood. Set in Cornwall, where Lucy grew up, her stories combine the magical elements of folklore with everyday, domestic environments. Dazzling, mischievous and beautiful, her collection has already drawn praise from the likes of Michel Faber, Phillip Hensher and Jon McGregor. And Lucy is still only 26, which is, frankly, a little terrifying.

In February, we are publishing Jon McGregor’s breathtaking first story collection This isn’t the sort of thing that happens to someone like you. Two of the stories in this collection have been shortlisted for the BBC National Short story Award, and in both cases they were named as runner-up. Set in the flat and threatened fenland landscape these delicate, dangerous and sometimes deeply funny stories tell of things buried and unearthed, of familiar places made strange and of lives where much is hidden and tender moments are hard-won. They are absolutely astonishing.

In March we are delighted to be publishing Homesick, by Roshi Fernando. Roshi has won the Impress Prize and been shortlisted for the Sunday Times Short Story Prize, and in this stunning collection of linked stories about Sri-Lankan families in South London, she traces the fine lines of politics, tradition and community, exploring questions of belonging and home in finely-honed and powerful prose.

In April, we are publishing DW Wilson’s debut collection Once You Break A Knuckle, from which his BBC National-Short-Story-Award-winning The Dead Roads comes. Dave Wilson is a remarkable young writer and we are incredibly excited to have him on our list. His stories, set in the remote Kootenay Valley in western Canada, crackle with tension and are propelled by jagged, cutting dialogue, as they describe good people doing bad things.

And finally, we have I Am An Executioner by Rajesh Parameswaran, an incredibly exciting young American writer whose work has already appeared in McSweeney's, Granta and Zoetrope, and whose darkly funny, wildly original stories about the power of love, and the love of power form a glittering, savage and elegant first collection. ·

TSR: What those of us who write short stories hear very often from literary agents is that publishers feel they can't sell collections of stories. Bloomsbury clearly feels differently - do you have any plans for special marketing campaigns for these collections that are focused on the fact of them being short stories?

HGW: I’m afraid that there does, unfortunately seem to be more than a grain of truth in this maxim. Whereas in the States, short story collections can easily reach the Number One spot on the New York Times bestseller list (Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth being a case in point), in the UK we very rarely see short story collections selling in large numbers - unless they are linked collections, published as novels, like A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing and Jennifer Egan’s fantastic A Visit from the Goon Squad

But, ironically, or so it seems from my perspective as an editor anyway, more and more writers are turning to the short story form – indeed, most of the authors I work with seem to spend a sometimes alarming amount of their day on twitter! – and I think it is where some of the most original and exciting fiction is to be found today. And, in a world where opinion and debate are distilled into 140 characters, where life seems to be moving at an ever faster pace and our appreciation of the ‘short’ is growing every day, it seems a fair assumption that more readers are being drawn to short stories, to perfectly-crafted little worlds into which they can escape, where they can be surprised, and moved and transported in the course of a tube journey or a lunch break.

And then of course there are the electronic-opportunities that arise with short stories – where single stories can be separated out and read on smartphones and e-books and in electronic magazines. At Bloomsbury we have always been committed to publishing literary fiction of the highest quality, and we have a great tradition of short-story publishing. We have published collections by Mavis Gallant, Tobias Wolff, TC Boyle, Margaret Atwood, Richard Ford, Jay McInerney, William Boyd and Nadine Gordimer – all of whom are wonderful writers in whatever form they choose to write in.

So, another reason for us to take on these short story collections, in particular those by debut writers, is because we believe that they are at the start of incredibly promising literary careers, and whether they go on to write novels, or more story collections, we wanted to commit to them as authors at this stage. In publishing these collections closely together we wanted to announce the arrival of a collection of hugely talented writers. And by launching them in the same period it has allowed us to draw strength in numbers, as it were: we have produced a beautiful sampler (both electronically and in print form), containing a story from each of the collections that we have sent out to the media, booksellers and festival organizers.

We have been able to blow our trumpet about our Year of the Short Story, which has, in turn led to coverage and previews for each of the authors and their books. Various publications are interested in running the stories over the coming months, and festivals and libraries are excited by the idea of a kind of short-story roadshow, where people can listen to groups of short-story writers talking together. By publishing them together and confidently, as opposed to the perhaps rather apologetic way that short story collections can sometimes be published, our hope – and our intention – is that the collections will be noticed in a way they might otherwise not have been.

TSR: What is it that you love in a short story? What does a great short story do for you?

HGW: In stories, as in novels, the first thing that I am drawn to is always voice – I am struck by voices that feel original, and confident and that instantly draw you in. Story collections can be a treat because they often contain so many different voices and they really showcase the craft that goes into creating convincing characters and narrators. I also love the elegance of the short story: the precision and skill needed to hold it together successfully. But most of all, I love the story in a story: whether this is narrative that lasts for half a page or for 30, for me, the best short stories are those that make you feel like you have read an entire novel, with all the emotional investment, and intellectual and emotional pay-off that that involves.

Thank you so much, Helen - we at Short Review Towers are feeling the love! We look forward to reading - and reviewing -these collections (read a sample here) and certainly hope that 2012, 2013, 2014 and on and on continue to be years of the short story!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Story Prize announces its finalists

The prestigious $20,000 Story Prize, awarded annually to a short story collection published in the US has announced the finalists for 2011:

  • The Angel Esmeralda by Don DeLillo (Scribner) 
  • We Others by Steven Millhauser (Alfred A. Knopf) 
  • Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman (Lookout Books) 
We have reviewed Edith Pearlman's stunning collection already (and Steven Millhauser's previous collection, Dangerous Laughter) - and the other two are on our pile - and frankly I don't envy the judges, having to decide between these three. I'd rather not have to! The winner will be announced in March. Good luck to all! Keep an eye on the Story prize blog for more about the prize and the finalists.