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!