Guy Ware's short story "the year of peace" has been crowned the winner of 2018's London Short Story Prize.
Ware said the judges' approval would spur him on to "keep taking risks", with agent and judge Sarah Such calling it "the story that most moved, excited, enthralled and inspired".
She said: "Beautifully written in a spare but accessible form, by turns elegant and lyrical, a man and woman meet in London four or five times each year as their relationship evolves through remembrance of an historic coup in her father’s country. Tender and begging many questions, it’s a haunting story that plays assuredly with the reader’s emotions."
Ware won the prize for writers resident in London in what was a record year for entries, attracting more than 500 submissions. Highly commended were "A Complete History of Portraiture" by Kira McPherson and "Dead Shark" by Emma Hutton.
Joining Such on the judges panel were authors Guy Gunaratne and Clare Fisher, who commented on the "high quality selection of stories in a variety of genres, styles and subject matter". Fisher remarked: "I was astounded by the quality, diversity and originality of this longlist. These stories will make you laugh, cry and think; they will take you to new and unexpected emotional and physical landscapes. These writers aren't merely talented - they've got flair and guts. I look forward to seeing what they do next."
The winner receives £1,000 and a meeting with an agent. The two highly commended authors receive £250 and a meeting with an editor. Further prizes include places on Spread the Word courses, and membership to the London Writers Network. The 12 longlisted writers will see their stories published in the London Short Story Anthology 2018, produced by Kingston University Press and launched in April 2019.
Ware has written two novels, The Fat of Fed Beasts and Reconciliation (Salt), as well as a short story collection You Have 24 Hours to Love Us (Comma Press). He commented: "I’m delighted that 'the year of peace' has been chosen. Writing it was a gamble, so finding readers and judges who think it has paid off is a real boost. It’s the encouragement I need to keep taking risks, keep pushing stories I believe in."
Ruth Harrison, director at Spread the Word, said: "It is evident that the short story form is thriving in London, and the quality and quantity of entries that we received show the vitality of the capital’s writing scene. We’re thrilled to once again be able to reward and showcase the talent that is out there."
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