BBC National Short Story Award

£15,000 for the winning story, £3,000 for the runner-up and £500 for the three other shortlisted stories.

2008 BBC National Short Story Award

Winner announced

Clare Wigfall won the 2008 BBC National Short Story Award, with Jane Gardam named as runner up.

At a breakfast ceremony held on Monday 14 July at BAFTA, Piccadilly, London, Clare Wigfall received £15,000 – at the time the largest award in the world for a single short story – for 'The Numbers'. Jane Gardam, who was unable to attend, received £3,000 for 'The People on Privilege Hill'.

The three remaining authors on the shortlist – Richard Beard, Erin Soros and Adam Thorpe – each received £500.

Announcing the winners, Chair of the judges, broadcaster and writer Martha Kearney, said:

'It's exciting that a relatively unknown voice, in fact the youngest writer on our shortlist, has distinguished herself amongst some very well known authors as a leading talent in the world of storytelling.

'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.

'The strength of our shortlist ranging from the gothic to the comic demonstrates that the short story is alive and well, the perfect art form for a time hungry age.'

Read the press release (Microsoft Word .doc 48Kb)

Shortlist announced

The shortlist for the 2008 BBC National Short Story Award shortlist was announced on 4 July.

Richard Beard Guidelines for Measures to Cope with Disgraceful and Other Events

Jane Gardam The People on Privilege Hill

Erin Soros Surge

Adam Thorpe The Names

Clare Wigfall The Numbers

(Click on the title to read the story.)

Read the press release (Microsoft Word .doc 49Kb)

More details about the stories and their authors

Richard Beard Guidelines for Measures to Cope with Disgraceful and Other Events

‘This is no place to be weak,’ newly elected MEP Simon Vindolanda is warned by a colleague during his first week in Brussels. Simon laughingly ignores this advice – which is why his enthusiastic affair with perky Eva Kuznetsova is, one way or another, about to come to a very sticky end indeed.

Richard Beard was born in Swindon in 1967. His first published story, 'The Three Rope Trick', appeared in the fiction magazine Panurge in 1994, and since then he has published one further story, 'Hearing Myself Think', in Prospect and New Writing 15 (2007). In 1994 he enrolled on Malcolm Bradbury’s Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia, and has published four novels including X20 A Novel of (not) Smoking (1996), Dry Bones (2004), and Damascus (1999), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. He has also written three works of non-fiction, one of which, Muddied Oafs, The Last Days of Rugger (2003), was shortlisted for the British Sports Book Awards. His latest book, Becoming Drusilla (2008), is the biography of his friendship with the illustrator Dru Marland, and their eventful walking trip around Wales after Dru changed sex.

Between 2003 and 2006 Richard Beard was Visiting Professor at the University of Tokyo. He currently lives in Strasbourg.

Jane Gardam The People on Privilege Hill

Sir Edward Feathers QC is cold and old and going out to lunch with a woman called Dulcie, who he’d never much liked. Trudging up to Privilege House in the pouring rain, he is joined by his fellow judges Veneering and Fiscal-Smith. As they shake out their umbrellas in the conservatory, it becomes apparent that Dulcie has invited a horde, although the mysterious – and elusive – guest of honour is not among them.

Jane Gardam is the only writer to have twice been awarded the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel of the Year (for The Queen of the Tambourine and The Hollow Land). She also holds a Heywood Hill Literary Prize for a lifetime's contribution to the enjoyment of literature. Her novel God on the Rocks was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and made into a film, while her collections of short stories have won many awards, including the David Higham Award and the Royal Society of Literature’s Winifred Holtby Prize (for Black Faces, White Faces); the Katherine Mansfield Prize (for The Pangs of Love); and the Macmillan Silver PEN Award (for Going Into a Dark House). Old Filth was shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2005.

Born in Yorkshire, Jane Gardam is married with three grown-up children. She lives in Sandwich, Kent.

Erin Soros Surge

The school bus driver drops off Olaf and his deaf sister Greta in the forest, near to the scrub where they hide their bikes. Riding home, Greta lags behind; Olaf leaves her, cycling down the trail to join the boys at the great surge tank on the beach. Only one boy has ever climbed the tank, but today six of them are going to try. Some will succeed, others will fail, and Greta will make a discovery of her own.

Erin Soros was born and raised in Vancouver where she worked as a rape crisis counsellor and as a coordinator of literacy programs for marginalized youth. She has published poetry, fiction and non-fiction, most recently in the Indiana Review, the Iowa Review and the in-flight magazine enRoute. Her stories have been produced for the radio by the CBC and BBC as recipients of the CBC Literary Award and the Commonwealth Prize for the Short Story. She is the winner of the 2007 Charles Pick Fellowship at the University of East Anglia.

Adam Thorpe The Names

A Swedish student, traversing the French countryside in 1975 on a mobilette bought in Paris, comes across a bric-a-brac sales in the attractively shabby village of Valdaron. Captivated by the beautiful girl behind one of the trestle tables, he buys from her an old bottle whose label is covered with a dozen signatures. Discovering the reason for those faded scribbles becomes a life-crippling obsession for the bottle’s new owner – one that eventually reveals a brutal wartime tale of cold-blooded murder.

Poet, playwright and novelist Adam Thorpe was born in Paris in 1956 and grew up in India, Cameroon and England. After graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1979, he started a theatre company and toured villages and schools before moving to London where he taught Drama and English Literature. His first collection of poetry, Mornings in the Baltic (1988), was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award. His other books of poetry are Meeting Montaigne (1990), From the Neanderthal (1999), Nine Lessons from the Dark (2003) and Birds with a Broken Wing (2007). He was awarded an Eric Gregory Award in 1985.

Thorpe's first novel, Ulverton (1992), a panoramic portrait of English rural history, was published to great critical acclaim and prompted novelist John Fowles, reviewing the book in the Guardian, to call it 'the most interesting first novel I have read these last years'. The book won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize in 1992.

His second novel, Still (1995), follows film director Ricky Thornby's ambitious plans to make an all-encompassing film about the twentieth century. Pieces of Light (1998) describes a young boy's childhood in West Africa and the mystery that develops when he is sent to live with an eccentric uncle in the English countryside on the eve of the Second World War. Shifts (2000), a collection of short stories, explores the interconnected themes of work and labour. Nineteen Twenty-One (2001), set in that year, focuses on a young man intent on writing a novel about the First World War. No Telling (2003) is set in 1968 and is narrated by a 12-year-old boy on the verge of First Communion and puberty, living amid a deeply dysfunctional family in a turbulent France, culminating in the 1968 Paris riots. The Rules of Perspective (2005), is set at the end of the Second World War in a German museum. Between Each Breath (2007) is a love story, following Jack Middleton, once a promising young composer and now living comfortably in Hampstead with his wife Milly, and the effects of the affair he had in Estonia with the beautiful Kaja six years before. Adam’s latest novel, The Standing Pool (2008), follows the Mallinsons as they take a sabbatical in a remote Languedoc farmhouse.. Is This The Way You Said? (2006) is his most recent collection of stories.

Adam Thorpe lives in France with his wife and three children.

Clare Wigfall The Numbers

Peigi is fond of numbers. ‘They explain things. Throw light upon problems and make you recognise truth. They can be a comfort.’ And although there may not be much for her to count on the sparsely populated island, Peigi’s existence is far from uneventful: there is herring to gut and salt; peat boggarts to avoid at night; and the cry of an abandoned baby to answer.

Clare Wigfall was born in Greenwich, London, during the summer of 1976. Her family moved to Berkeley, California in 1979 before returning to the UK when Clare was eight. She began writing at an early age and a few years later began working as an assistant and editor to the late President of Mensa. After graduating from Manchester University in 1998, Clare moved to Prague and she now lives in Berlin. Her stories have been published in Prospect, New Writing 10, Tatler, the Dublin Review, and also commissioned for Radio 4.

Her debut collection of stories, The Loudest Sound and Nothing, was published by Faber in 2007.

Download these details (Microsoft Word .doc 40Kb)

Launch of the 2008 Award

The 2008 BBC National Short Story Award was launched at Broadcasting House on Tuesday 13 November 2007.

Broadcaster Martha Kearney chaired the panel of judges for 2008, which also included writer Naomi Alderman, author of Disobedience; Alexander Linklater, one of the award’s founders (Prospect Magazine); Booker Prize winner Penelope Lively; and Di Speirs (BBC Radio 4).

Read the press release (Microsoft Word .doc 43Kb)

Read the media briefing notes (Microsoft Word .doc 47Kb)

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Read an article by Di Speirs (Executive Producer Readings BBC Radio 4) about BBC Radio and its work with the short story

Read about the history of the prize

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