Jonathan Buckley has won the £15,000 BBC National Short Story Award for ‘Briar Road’.
This evening (6th October) he was presented with the prize of £15,000 by this year’s Chair of Judges Allan Little at a ceremony held in the BBC’s Radio Theatre in London. The news was announced live on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Front Row’, during a special programme celebrating the short story and featuring William Boyd.
It was the first time the Brighton-based author was shortlisted for the title, something he described as “a huge and delightful surprise.”
Mark Haddon was selected as the runner-up and received £3,000 for his story ‘Bunny’. The three other shortlisted authors, Frances Leviston, Hilary Mantel and Jeremy Page, who each received £500.
Chair of Judges Allan Little, said: “Jonathan Buckley’s ‘Briar Road’ is a quiet intriguing mystery and focuses on a single moment in the life of one family who have turned to a spiritualist after their teenage daughter has disappeared. The prose is understated, stark and plain. The intrigue builds as key details are revealed slowly, hinted at and suggested rather than spelled out. It is a haunting evocation of the tensions between family members at a moment of unbearable loss borne, the outward calm masking the turmoil into which the family has been swept.”
Born in Birmingham, Buckley worked as a university tutor, stage hand, maker of theatrical sets and props, bookshop manager, decorator, builder, and ‘Rough Guides’ editor before starting to write fiction. He is the author of nine novels, most recently The River is the River (Sort of Books).
This year’s judging panel included the novelist Tash Aw, 2013 BBC National Short Story Award-winner Sarah Hall, novelist and Rebus creator Ian Rankin, and Books Editor at BBC Radio Di Speirs. The panel was chaired by the former BBC foreign correspondent Allan Little.
Front Row also announced the first ever BBC Young Writers’ Award (YWA), which was awarded to 15-year-old Brennig Davies for his story Skinning, about a boy who is made to skin a rabbit by his father.
Davies won a mentoring session with author Matt Haig, who said: “I was totally bowled over by Brennig’s story. Even among a strong shortlist it stood out for its sheer confidence of style and subject. It had us all gripped. When we heard he was only fourteen when he wrote the story our jaws collectively dropped. I hadn’t dared expect to read something this strong. He’s good enough to be published now, and - not that I am entirely sure he needs it - I am really looking forward to mentoring him.”
This year marks the 10th year of the BBC National Short Story Award. Over the decade the award has seen 55 shortlisted stories broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in the annual anthology.
Gwyneth Williams, controller of BBC Radio 4, said: “I am thrilled to celebrate ten years of our BBC National Short Story Award with such exceptional stories and gifted writers. Radio 4 is proud to broadcast more short stories than anyone, anywhere in the world. Writers and original writing lie at our very heart.”
The prize is awarded in conjunction with Book Trust.