April 4, 2013
The White Review announces Short Story Prize shortlist
by Zeljka Marosevic
The shortlist for the inaugural White Review Short Story Prize was announced earlier this week. The competition, which opened for submissions in December, will award the prize to a writer without a publishing deal who best displays “ambitious, imaginative and innovative approaches to creative writing.” The work of the eight finalists can be read on the site, featuring intriguing titles ranging from “The Lady of the House” to “How to be an Astronaut.” Some of the stories even take up the familiar problems of being a short story writer: “I am standing in a room full of people reading out a story…My hands are shaking.”
Judging the prize are Booker shortlisted author Deborah Levy, Jonathan Cape’s editorial director Alex Bowler, and senior agent at Curtis Brown Karolina Sutton. As well as walking away with £2,500 and being printed in the magazine, the winner will have the chance to meet and discuss their work with Sutton.
It’s nice to see a prize that aims to reward the art form of shorter fiction, which often goes uncelebrated while prizes for the novel abound. It’s nicer still that the prize is interested in helping emerging writers gain access to publishers and agents. Compared to the price of a six-month writing course at Curtis Brown’s Creative Writing School (£2,800), a chance to meet an agent is worth more than the prize money itself.
For a prize dedicated to helping unpublished writers, it’s a shame that entrants were charged a submission fee of £15. However, the editors have argued that the fee will ensure the competition is not just a one-off event but has the funds to continue next year. This year’s prize money has been donated by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation which is dedicated to supporting and funding emerging talent.
Although the prize’s aim is to celebrate the art of the short story, and the judges sought entries that would “explore and expand the possibilities of the form,” it remains to be seen whether its winner will go on to publish a story collection. One rather suspects agents and publishers would prefer a novel, knowing as they do that short stories are notoriously difficult to sell.
The winner will be announced on April 25th at a ceremony which is open to the public.
Zeljka Marosevic is the former managing director of Melville House UK.