BBC National Short Story Award 2011 shortlist

The shortlist for this year’s BBC National Short Story Award has been announced:

  • M.J. Hyland, ‘Rag Love’
  • Alison MacLeod, ‘The Heart of Denis Noble’
  • Jon McGregor, ‘Wires’
  • K.J. Orr, ‘The Human Circadian Pacemaker’
  • D.W. Wilson, ‘The Dead Roads’

My initial thoughts? I enjoyed Jon McGregor’s shortlisted story last year, and the Alison MacLeod collection I read a few months ago. I’ve read M.J. Hyland before, but it’s been a long time since; the other two authors are unknown to me. If the standard of this year’s shortlist is anything like last year’s, we’re in for a treat; the signs are good as far as I can see.

BBC Radio 4 are broadcasting each shortlisted story at 3.30pm (BST) on consecutive days from Monday 12th, with the winner to be announced on Monday 26th September.


  1. It’s slightly annoying that they don’t tell you where the stories were first published; the only one I recognise is “The Heart of Denis Noble”, which is in Litmus (the sort of follow-up to When it Changed), and is pretty good.

  2. David Hebblethwaite

    13th September 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Yes, the lack of provenance is a missed opportunity, I think. It would help to raise the profile of short stories if the Award indicated places where people could find them!

  3. Are you assuming they’ve all been published previously? One thought that occurs is that they are keeping this quiet as only previously published stories are properly considered. (Previous publication is not a condition for entry.) However, I’m not sure that all HAVE been published previously, which may be another reason for not stressing this aspect…

  4. David Hebblethwaite

    14th September 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Sorry, Elizabeth – your comments were caught in my spam filter (I’ve let only the first through to avoid duplication).

    I didn’t realise that unpublished stories were eligible. It’s still frustrating not to know where all the nominees came from, though…

  5. The authors had to have previous publication history in the UK in book, broadcast, or periodical form, but the stories themselves don’t need to have been previously published. In fact, only stories previously published after January 2010 were eligible.

    I do think it’d have been beneficial to the literary magazines/collections for the BBC to have listed where they appeared, but I suspect part of the reason they don’t is so that people don’t go and acquire the shortlisted stories separately from the BBC, before the BBC airs them, and so undermine the anticipation they’re trying to build.

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