Alert! It has just been announced on BBC Radio 4′s Front Row that Henrietta Rose-Innes has come second in the BBC International Short Story Awards. She receives a prize of £2 500 for her story “Sanctuary”.
Bulgarian author Miroslav Penkov’s “East of the West” trumped the shortlist of ten stories to win the first prize of £15 000. All the shortlisted stories are collected in the BBC International Short Story Award 2012 anthology, published by Comma Press.
Bulgarian author Miroslav Penkov has won the £15,000 BBC International Short Story Award for his story ‘East of the West’. The announcement was made live on Radio 4′s Front Row from a ceremony at the Free Word Centre in London. South African Henrietta Rose-Innes was the mrunner-up, winning £2,500 for her story ‘Sanctuary’.
Penkov emerged victorious from a strong global shortlist that included stories from Man Booker-shortlisted Deborah Levy as well as previous winner Julian Gough and M J Hyland, who was shortlisted in 2011.
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.
Penkov on his winning story:
‘I wanted to write a story about those Bulgarians who, at the will of the Great Powers, were severed from our country, and who inevitably will lose, if they haven‟t already, their sense of being Bulgarian. At the same time, I wanted to write a story about myself, abroad in America and in many ways alone, with a huge body of water between me and the people I love.’
BBC Radio 4 broadcaster Clive Anderson chaired the judging panel this year, joined by 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.
‘The judges were unanimous in their choice of Miro’s story ‘East of the West’, as the winner, as it so ambitiously and successfully united personal and political life, joining inner and outer worlds through its deployment of different kinds of realism: social and magical and folkloric. The narrator’s voice is unforgettable, his bleak vision redeemed by a strength of feeling that is unusual and unfashionable in modern fiction.’
‘What I like about this piece is its understatedness. It is rich in historical detail, and imagery, without over-reaching for these effects, and as a result the story manages well the conveyance of epic with the building of interest in the individual struggle of the narrator.’
Henrietta Rose-Innes‟ story ‘Sanctuary’ is a subtle but powerful account of 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.
For the first time since it launched in 2006 – and for one year only – the BBC Short Story Award invited authors from across the globe to enter alongside UK practitioners. To reflect the global breadth of the International Award in 2012 the shortlist comprised ten short stories rather than the usual five. The eight other shortlisted authors received £250 each.
Ten of the UK‟s top actors – including Rory Kinnear and Andrew Scott – read the shortlisted stories, which were broadcast over the last two weeks on BBC Radio 4. Each of the stories are now available as a commercial audiobook download via AudioGo. The BBC International Short Story Award 2012 Anthology, published by Comma Press, is available at all good bookshops and at www.commapress.co.uk, as well as in Kindle format at www.amazon.co.uk/kindle.
Miro Penkov will appear at the Cheltenham Literature Festival at 8pm on Sunday 7 October, in an event and chaired by judge Michèle Roberts and featuring last year‟s winner D W Wilson. More details are available at www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/find-events/literature/l338-bbc-international-short-story-award-mich-le-roberts-dw-wilson-guests
Gwyneth Williams, Controller, BBC Radio 4:
‘Storytelling lies at the heart of Radio 4 and I am proud to say that we broadcast more stories each year than anyone, anywhere in the world. And this year the BBC Short Story Award has gone global; we have stories from Australia, America, the Balkans, Ireland, the UK and the land of my birth, South Africa. I am hugely enjoying listening to all ten shortlisted stories. The short story is “a small good thing”, to borrow one of Raymond Carver’s titles and this Award is a highlight for Radio 4 and a treat for our listeners’.
Viv Bird, Chief Executive, Booktrust:
‘Our partnership with the BBC has undoubtedly contributed to the resurgence of the short story over the past few years. This special edition of the BBC Short Story Award has cast its net beyond our own shores and reeled in a special talent. I offer hearty congratulations to Miro for winning this prestigious award against strong competition.’
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 long-time 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.
- The BBC International Short Story Award 2012 edited by Clive Anderson, Di Speirs
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