Letters Have No Arms have packed their bags, put their travel hats on, and moved to a new land!
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The BBC National Short Story Award is apparently "the largest award for a single short story in the world." The largest in prize-money because in terms of fame I can't say I even heard of it before I chanced upon their website the other day. Now book prizes have been known to succeed in emptying your pockets faster than you can say "manbookerprize", but I was surprised to see that the BBC NSSA website is offering - for free - not only all the winning stories from the previous years for your reading pleasure (which, granted, aren't that many since the award was inaugurated in 2006), but also all the competing short stories from those years. The great thing is you can download them all as Word documents (or pdfs) and decide for yourself whether the stories deserved to win or not, whether there was a better short story out there that was neglected. I found the 2008 winner, Clare Wigfalls' "Numbers" fully deserving of the prize - the short story had an almost Alice Munro'-esque power of creating atmosphere. The chairwoman of the judges' panel commented that "Clare’s evocation of superstition and frustrated lives on a remote Scottish island is an act of historical ventriloquism. She shows just what the short story can achieve, conjuring up a whole world through a microcosm." Read the story for yourself here, or find out more about the award here. (to get to the stories you will have to click on the individual pages for each year e.g. "Find out more about the 2007 Award")
This year the shortlisted books will be announced on Friday, the 27th of November and even better, they will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 every day from the 30th November until the 4th December. What better way to spend those forthcoming cold winter afternoons?
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