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Petina Gappah's "An Elegy for Easterly" Longlisted for the £25 000 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award

An Elegy for EasterlyPetina Gappah, authorAlert! The title story in Petina Gappah‘s An Elegy for Easterly has been longlisted for a lucrative new annual literary award sponsored by the UK’s Sunday Times, the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.

“Elegy” is one of twenty stories on the longlist, which also includes Kay Sexton, “a former glamour model who now writes erotica”. The award is set to be judged by Brit lit heavyweights Nick Hornby, Hanif Kureishi and AS Byatt, as well as the Times‘ literary editor Andrew Holgate and one Lord Matthew Evans.

Here’s the Times‘ announcement and longlist:

Sexton is joined on the long list for the prize, which is open to published authors from anywhere in the world and carries a prize of £25,000, by Simon Robson, a Rada-trained actor, and Charles Mosley, former editor-in-chief of Burke’s Peerage.

Tremain, who won the Orange prize in 2008 for her novel The Road Home, said: “It’s a tough form of writing because you must have cohererence in just a few thousand words, while with a novel you can have some ‘bagginess’.”

Six of the longlisted authors are also award-winning poets, including Jackie Kay and John Burnside.

To mark the advent of the new award, its director and Times‘ short story editor Cathy Galvin presents readers with an new short by Kureishi, “A Terrible Story”:

When Eric slammed the front door it was cold outside and raining hard. With winter already coming, he was reluctant to go out. But he’d said he’d meet Jake at seven and he couldn’t let him down. Not that he had far to go; it took Eric five minutes to get to his local place.

He hurried into the bright, warm and almost-empty cafe, hung up his coat and sat down. The waiters knew him and brought him the wine he liked without his having to ask. Eric went there most days, to read the paper, make phone calls and work on his computer.

He drank half a glass of wine straight off, to calm himself down after arguing with his wife a few minutes earlier. She and their nine-year-old son had been at the kitchen table doing the boy’s homework, but, having had a glass of wine, Eric had felt inspired to expatiate on the current political situation. His wife told him to shut up, and he hadn’t wanted to; he had something pressing to say. His wife asserted he always had something important to say at the wrong time. Didn’t he want his son to succeed or would the boy be a cretin like his father? The spat accelerated. “You don’t listen to me!” “You don’t speak at the right time, when we want to hear you!” “You’re never receptive!” “You’re a fool!” Eric shuddered and giggled, as he thought of the two of them freely insulting one another, and the boy looking on.

The shortlist will be announced on 7 March, and the winner on 26 March. Good luck to Gappah – we’re holding thumbs!

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