Irenosen Okojie and Chris Power to judge BBC Short Story Award

Irenosen Okojie and Chris Power to judge BBC Short Story Award

British Nigerian writer Irenosen Okojie (pictured) will judge the £15,000 BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (NSSA) alongside short story writer Chris Power, as the prize enters its 15th year.

Joining Okojie and Power will be Commonwealth Prize-winner Lucy Caldwell who was shortlisted for both the 2012 and 2019 BBC NSSA and returning judge Di Speirs, books editor at BBC Radio. Author and journalist Jonathan Freedland will chair the panel.

Meanwhile Laura Bates, author and The Everyday Sexism Project founder, will join the judging panel for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (YWA), along with novelist and YA Book Prize 2018 winner Will Hill, YA writer Muhammad Khan and writer Bridget Minamore. Broadcaster Kate Thistleton will return as a judge on the prize.

Speirs said of the anniversary milestone: “As we reach our 15th year and also look back on the wealth and range of authors we’ve fostered and celebrated, it’s a privilege and a joy to begin the hunt again as we continue to reflect the BBC’s deep commitment both to writers and our listeners who love the short story form.”

Dr Sarah Dillon, of University of Cambridge, said:  “It is with great anticipation that the University of Cambridge enters into the third year of its collaboration with the BBC and with First Story on these Awards. The University’s Institute of Continuing Education’s Centre for Creative Writing takes great pride in supporting and nurturing writing in the short form, a genre that is always so adept at responding to the contemporary moment. The shortlisted stories over the past two years of our involvement with the awards, for both adults and young writers, have been remarkable and we are proud to support today’s best contemporary writers.”

The deadline for the NSSA is 9th March 2020 with the shortlist announced on 11th September. Entries for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University is 9 a.m. on 23rd March 2020 with the shortlist revealed on 20th September. 

The announcement of the winners of the two awards will be broadcast live from the award ceremony at BBC Broadcasting House on BBC Radio 4’s “Front Row” on 6th October 2020.

The NSSA is one of the world’s most prestigious short story prizes, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The stories are broadcast on Radio 4 and published in an anthology. The 2019 winner was Welsh writer Jo Lloyd, who won for "The Invisible". Previous alumni of the award include Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel and Jon McGregor.

The writers shortlisted for the BBC Young Writers’ Award have their stories broadcast in a special Radio 1 Life Hacks podcast and published in an anthology. The winner of the 2019 Young Writers’ Award was 16-year-old Georgie Woodhead for "Jelly-headed".