Lucy Caldwell and Rory Gleeson are on the shortlist for The BBC National Short Story Award
Now in its sixteenth year, the award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000 and four further shortlisted authors £600 each.
Belfast-born, multi-award-winning writer Lucy Caldwell is shortlisted for the third time for All the People Were Mean and Bad, a storytaken from her 2021 collection, Intimacies.
A beautifully crafted and tender story about an Irish woman navigating a long-haul transatlantic flight alone with her 21-month-old daughter after a family loss, the fleeting encounter with a fellow passenger is an intimate exploration of the possibility of different paths taken, the kindness of strangers and ‘the distance between where we come from and where we end up; between who we think we are and who we turn out to be. Between what we dream, and what we do’.
Novelist, playwright and screenwriter Rory Gleeson is shortlisted for ‘Body Audit’, his ‘extraordinarily original’ and delicate exploration of the world of the teenage boy.
A story about a group of boys at a residential camp in Ireland, it subverts expectations, hinting at brutality and with a surprising twist.
Rory wrote the first draft while on holiday in Italy where he was surrounded by beautiful people ‘devoid of self-consciousness’. It triggered thoughts of the palpable confusion, excitement and insecurity that comes with teenage years but was also inspired by missing physical connection during lockdown and the negative stories about young people meeting up.
He wanted to ‘write something about the side of teenage fellas often overlooked’ and ‘the moments of incredible tenderness and sensitivity between them’.
Other shortlisted writers are: Orange Prize shortlisted writer Georgina Harding, former postal worker and Creative Writing lecturer Danny Rhodes, and journalist, novelist and Mastermind Finalist Richard Smyth.
The shortlist was announced on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on Friday 10th September at 7.45pm.
The winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on 19th October 2021.