The BBC Young Writers’ Award shortlist has been unveiled with themes ranging from abuse, divorce, a “struggle to survive in an unforgiving world” and retribution with influences including Margaret Atwood and Ernest Hemingway.
The five nominated writers, aged between 14 and 18, were announced live on Alice Levine’s show on BBC Radio 1 on Saturday (30th September) with stories featuring “magical realism” as well as the “mundane everyday”.
'Wolf’ by Matt Coleclough, 17, is described as the “most experimental in structure” following the story of a wolf and a thief. Fourteen-year-old Miranda Crawford’s ‘Decisions’ explores the tensions of a marriage with a child trapped in the middle while 'Something Wicked, Something Wild’ by Victoria Knight, 18, is influenced by Atwood and her inspiration for The Handmaid’s Tale (Vintage). ‘The Roses’ by Elizabeth Ryder, 17, explores emotional abuse while ‘Sunflowers’ by 17-year-old Abiah Wyatt focuses on domestic abuse “told with raw and brutal beauty”.
Levine, chair of the judges, said that after three years of judging “it seems to get harder and harder as the quality is just so high”.
Fellow judge Holly Bourne said: “This shortlist showcases the huge scope of imagination and just the sheer writing talent in this upcoming generation".
The Good Immigrant editor Nikesh Shukla, also on the panel, echoed her comments. “The shortlist is an impressive collection of future stars, each one with a distinctive voice and a bright future ahead of them,” he said.
The award was launched in 2015 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the BBC National Short Story Award and to unearth future writing talent. The prize, which is for stories of up to 1,000 words, attracted more than 500 entries this year.
On Thursday (28th September) it was announced that charity First Story and the University of Cambridge are the new partners of the BBC’s short story awards, replacing BookTrust, in a three-year collaboration starting in 2018.
The university will support all three of the awards - the BBC National Short Story Award, the BBC Young Writers’ Award and the BBC Student Critics’ Award - while charity First Story will also assist the latter two prizes to further activity that will engage young people with reading, writing and listening to short stories.
The five young writers will attend the BBC National Short Story Award ceremony, the shortlist of which was revealed earlier this month, on 3rd October at the BBC’s Radio Theatre in central London, when the winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row.
The shortlisted writers will be given a guided visit to Radio 1 with the chance to meet authors, publishers, agents and broadcasters as well as having their stories published on the station’s website and receiving a copy of the BBC National Short Story Award 2017 anthology.
The winning story will be available on the BBC Radio 1 website and will be read on BBC Radio 1 on 7th October as well as the winner receiving a personalised mentoring session with an author.
The shortlisted stories can be read online at: bbc.co.uk/ywa.
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