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Petina Gappah Shortlisted for the £25 000 Sunday Times (UK) Short Story Award; and Set to Write for the ST in SA

An Elegy for EasterlyPetina Gappah relaxes in a pubAlert! The title story of Petina Gappah‘s juggernaut debut collection, An Elegy for Easterly, has been shortlisted for the world’s richest short story prize, the £25 000 UK Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award.

The longlist was announced in late February and the winner will be made known on 26 March at The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. In the running with Gappah are Will Cohu, Joe Dunthorne, Adam Marek, CK Stead and David Vann. Read judge AS Byatt’s comments on the award and the art of the short story:

Rules in general are restrictive. I am told by creative writing teachers that many would-be writers imitate that great short-story writer, Raymond Carver. This leads to an almost-rule — consider the fact that there are other ways of writing, besides Carver’s.

Read very widely, and all kinds of different authors. The American writer Michael Chabon has made fierce fun of that other traditional piece of shortstory wisdom — that a story should show a single emotion perfectly and end in an epiphany. Chabon said rightly that a piece of short fiction could tell a story, could set out to entertain, could contain a helterskelter of disparate things and happenings, and still be a short story.

Here’s hoping Gappah can grasp the gong!

Meanwhile, in other matters Sunday Times, but rather closer to home, Gappah has signed with South Africa’s largest English weekly to write a 900 word column once a fortnight, as she tells her fans on her blog:

Finally, for people like Jonathan Masere who missed my Zimbabwe Times column, I am thrilled to say that the Sunday Times South Africa has offered me a column. At over half a million, the Sunday Times has the largest circulation of any weekly newspaper in South Africa, and it also circulates in neighbouring countries including my own Zimbabwe. I have great admiration for editor Mondli Makhanya, and columnists like Justice Malala and Ben Trovato so I am very pleased indeed to be part of the Sunday Times family.

The first column in the series was apparently published yesterday, thought it doesn’t seem to have appeared online at TimesLive yet. We’ll keep a watch out for it – and if any reader should spot the relevant link, please post it as a comment below. Thanks!

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