R Z Baschir has won this year’s £2,500 White Review Short Story Prize, for her modern fable "The Chicken".
The annual competition for emerging writers without a publishing deal, sponsored by literary agency RCW, was set up in 2013. Winners are awarded editorial feedback and publication of their story in a print edition of the White Review magazine.
The winning announcement was made at a ceremony on 23rd September. Baschir’s story was picked by judges author Preti Taneja, RCW agent Laurence Laluyaux, Fitzcarraldo Editions associate publisher Tamara Sampey-Jawad and the White Review's editor Arundhati Thomas. Eight titles were shortlisted, selected from more than 600 entries.
Commenting on the "The Chicken", Taneja said: “From its outstanding control of voice to its intricate play on a popular swear word, 'The Chicken' is an unforgettably provocative, humorous and dark piece by a writer who fully articulates the confidence of her multiplicity. We loved this story for its epic, hyper-real register, its formal sensibility, and its compassion for its naive and irreverent young narrator. We hugely admired its author's determination to explore the visceral links between woman and animal, her play with female power and subservience, and her commitment to capturing the horror of systemic oppression. R Z Baschir's rightly uncategorisable story announces her as a brilliant new talent.”
Lalulyaux added: “RCW have a long-standing and very fruitful relationship with the White Review, and have always admired its visionary editorial choices and its decidedly international outlook. Over the years, many of our authors have been contributors to the magazine: both fiction and non-fiction, in English and in translation. RCW represent Claire-Louise Bennett, winner of the inaugural White Review Short Story Prize, and Julia Armfield, who won the prize in 2019. We are delighted to support the Short Story Prize and look forward to seeing this year’s talented authors gain a wider audience.”
Last year’s prize was won by Elizabeth O’Connor for "Woman with a White Pekingese".