Three of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists are shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with BookTrust worth £15,000.
Jenni Fagan, Benjamin Markovits and Helen Oyeyemi are all up for the 12th edition of the award, which was announced on Friday (15th September) on BBC Radio Four’s "Front Row", four years after being chosen by Granta. They are joined by critic and novelist Will Eaves and by Wales Book of the Year Fiction Prize winner, Cynan Jones, selected from more than 600 entries altogether.
The theme of this year’s line-up described as “humanity and its enduring spirit, the mystical and mysterious, the known and unknown” according to one of the judges, Baileys Prize winner Eimear McBride. The award is worth £15,000 with the four other shortlisted authors winning £600 with a change to the prize this year - previously a runner-up has also been selected winning £3,000 with the others netting £500 each.
Fagan is nominated for her tale about a mythical Scottish isle, ‘The Waken’, while Oyeyemi explores the complexity of the urban office in ‘If a book is locked there’s probably a good reason for that, don’t you think?’. Markovits’ ‘The Collector’ spans an American border-town while ‘The Edge of the Shoal’, by Jones, follows a “tension-fuelled fishing trip gone wrong” with a gay academic “stripped of his manhood” in Eaves’ ‘Murmur’.
McBride is joined on the judging panel by the chair, Joanna Trollope, 2017 Man Booker Prize longlisted writer Jon McGregor and Encore Award winner Sunjeev Sahota as well as returning judge Di Speirs, books editor at BBC Radio.
McBride said: “I think this year's shortlist represents a veritable festival of ideas about identity, the innate and the capacity of both for transformation... or not. These are stories about what is hidden, what is revealed, what can be lost and what will remain.”
Speirs said the shortlist showed authors are experimenting with short fiction “more boldly” and that all five of the nominated authors are “for the first time, novelists of statue”.
Interviews with the shortlisted writers will be broadcast over five weekdays on "Front Row" with each story broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from 18th to 22nd September. Five new short stories will be broadcast during Radio 4’s "Book at Bedtime", over the same time period, from last year’s winner K J Orr as well as Ross Raisin, Tea Obreht, Colin Barrett and Stephanie Victoire.
Debut writer, Orr, won the 2016 award for her entry 'Disappearances' with previous alumni including Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith and Hilary Mantel.
The BBC National Short Story Award 2017 Anthology, featuring all five stories, will be published by Comma Press on 18th September.
The prize will be accompanied by the BBC Young Writer’s Award, a collaboration between BBC Radio 4 and Radio 1. The results of both competitions will be revealed at a ceremony at the "Front Row" studios in London on 3rd October.
For more information, visit the BBC's award website.