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Henrietta Rose-Innes Shortlisted for BBC International Short Story Award for “Sanctuary”

HomingThe BBC International Short Story Award 2012Alert! Henrietta Rose-Innes has been shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award for her unpublished short story “Sanctuary”, as announced this evening on BBC Radio 4′s Front Row.

Described as a “subtle but powerful story”, “Sanctuary” is shortlisted alongside nine others, including “Black Vodka” by 2012 Man Booker Prize shortlistee, Deborah Levy. The stories are collected in the BBC International Short Story Award 2012 anthology, published this month by Comma Press.

The winner of the £15 000 prize will be announced live on Front Row on 2 October 2012.

Bring it home, Rose-Innes!

~ ~ ~

Press release:

The shortlist for the BBC International Short Story Award was announced this evening on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. Spanning oceans, from Australia, through South Korea, across South Africa, Eastern Europe, America and all the way back to the UK, the stories travel from broken home to broken heart with vibrancy, candour and compassion.

Amongst the shortlisted authors are Julian Gough, winner of the BBC National Short Story Award in 2007, M J Hyland who was shortlisted in 2011, and Deborah Levy whose novel, Then it will be available as a commercial audiobook via AudioGo. The BBC International Short Story Award 2012 Anthology, published by Comma Press, is available at all good bookshops and at from Monday, as well as in Kindle format at

BBC Radio 4 broadcaster Clive Anderson chairs the judging panel this year which consists of novelists Anjali Joseph and Ross Raisin, novelist and Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, Michèle Roberts, and Editor of Readings, BBC Radio, Di Speirs.

Clive Anderson, Chair of Judges:
‘Judging this competition was a great privilege and a perfect reminder of just how rewarding the short story genre can be. To celebrate the Olympics this year’s competition is international and the entries did come from all round the world. Universal themes were explored within the confines of the short story. In the ten which made it to the shortlist are to be found every day human activities such as first loves and last laughs, infidelity and murder. Plus a goose, a dog and a must-have disposable electronic device. In short, some great stories.’

Di Speirs, Editor of Readings, BBC Radio:
‘As always, it has been a tremendous privilege and delight to discover new writing by authors, many of whom I haven’t read before. This year’s shortlist – double the usual length – reflects a wealth of talent from around the world and takes us from Europe to Africa, Australia to the States. In this year when we hoped we’d truly be celebrating an international field of writers, we have a shortlist that not only entertains but also opens windows on to many different worlds.’

The shortlisted stories:

Lucy Caldwell – ‘Escape Routes’
Set in Belfast in the 1990s, ‘Escape Routes’ is told from the point of view of a child, whose friend and babysitter mysteriously goes missing. Delivered with the touching innocence of a child oblivious but not unaffected by the ideological and political strife plaguing Northern Ireland, the story is an oblique examination of a besieged Belfast.

Julian Gough – ‘The iHole’
‘The iHole’ playfully depicts the launch of the latest must-have gadget: a portable black hole. The media hype, the marketing, the industry competition and the consumer mania are laid bare in this satirical take on technology and consumerism in the 21st century.

M J Hyland – ‘Even Pretty Eyes Commit Crimes’
The adult narrator, who many years down the line still sees his father as somehow culpable for his mother’s departure, and tires of his father’s dependence on him, is forced to reassess his relationships, as it becomes apparent that his wife is leaving him too.

Krys Lee – ‘The Goose Father’
In a tale of loneliness, ambition and desire, a man sends his wife and children to America for a better life, while he stays behind in South Korea making a living as an accountant. Concerned with respectability and success, the man’s life is set awry when he takes in an endearing young tenant – along with his pet goose.

Deborah Levy – ‘Black Vodka’
In ‘Black Vodka’ a hunchbacked man goes on a date with the girl of his dreams. A subtle battle between shame and prurience ensues, as the man is crippled by thoughts of his own repugnance, and the girl is only intrigued by his appearance.

Miroslav Penkov – ‘East of the West’
Set in Bulgaria during and after the Cold War, ‘East of the West’ explores the difficulties of love, relationships and identity in a region ridden with conflict and sectarian violence. The narrator takes us from his childhood through to present day, ruminating on the loves and losses which both constrain and define his life.

Henrietta Rose-Innes – ‘Sanctuary’
This subtle but powerful story traces a nostalgic trip back to a childhood haunt in the South African bush. The narrator’s encounter with another family explores the experience of domestic violence and its consequences.

Adam Ross – ‘In the Basement’
Two couples meet for dinner and wind up discussing an old friend called Lisa. But their disparaging attitude towards Lisa’s lifestyle, choice of husband and treatment of their pet dog, unconsciously reveals more about their own relationships, insecurities, envy and brutality, than
it does about Lisa.

Carrie Tiffany – ‘Before he Left the Family’
‘Before he Left the Family’ examines the jagged relationship of two brothers and their parents following a painfully wrought divorce; while one brother’s loyalty lies with the jilted mother, the narrator finds affinity with his father. Yet, in the maelstrom of resentment, sexual confusion and self-blame, Tiffany finds pathos and redemption.

Chris Womersley – ‘A Lovely and Terrible Thing’
A man encounters a stranger on the road when his car breaks down. Invited to the stranger’s house, he is further enticed by the promise of being let in on the family’s secret – a daughter with a miraculous ability. It’s an offer the man, who struggles to cope with his own daughter’s disability, can’t refuse.


The BBC International 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. The genre is 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.

The ambition of the Award has been to expand opportunities for British writers, readers and publishers of the short story. The Award aims to honour the country’s finest exponents of the form. James Lasdun secured the inaugural Award for ‘An Anxious Man’; last year D W Wilson won for his story ‘The Dead Roads’. Julian Gough, Clare Wigfall, Kate Clanchy and David Constantine have also carried off the Award with authors shortlisted in previous years including Jon McGregor, Jackie Kay, William Trevor, Rose Tremain, Naomi Alderman and Lionel Shriver.

BBC Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra are the world’s leading broadcasters of short stories and longtime supporters of the form. Listeners can hear short stories every week. The BBC hopes that the Award can continue to serve as a reminder of the power of the short story. The Award is managed in partnership with Booktrust, an independent charity that manages a portfolio of prizes and awards celebrating the best books, writing and illustration for readers of all ages.


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Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    September 14th, 2012 @20:58 #

    Hurray for Henrietta, who conquers where e're she treads! What a birthday present, eh? Congratulations!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Kelwyn Sole</a>
    Kelwyn Sole
    September 16th, 2012 @17:01 #

    As the Ozzies say, good on yer, mate - good luck for the Award....

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Colleen</a>
    September 17th, 2012 @14:04 #

    I think we should change the Bacon Degrees of Separation to the Rose-Innes one. Wow, Henrietta, fabulous!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sophy</a>
    September 17th, 2012 @15:55 #

    Looks like Granta is releasing the shortlisted stories in their New Writing section - keep your eyes peeled for "Sanctuary":


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