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The BBC National Short story Award is one of the world's largest awards for a single short story. All five shortlisted stories, including the winner, are published here side by side. The Award is designed to honour Britain's finest short story writers and to re-establish the importance of the short story as a central literary form.
This year's shortlist brings together a high calibre group of new and established authors exploring human relationships at their most dysfunctional and yet sustaining. Splintered families, the persistence of love, the public versus the private, and the plight of the outsider all provide a recurring focus for the authors in the running for the prize, which marks its fifth year in 2010. The panel of judges this year includes the author and Guardian journalist Kamila Shamsie, author and poet Owen Sheers, author Shena MacKay, BBC Editor of Readings, Di Speirs and the Today Programme's James Naughtie, who also introduces the collection.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
David Constantine, born 1944 in Salford, Lancs, was for thirty years a university teacher of German language and literature. He has published several volumes of poetry (most recently – 2009 – Nine Fathom Deep); also a novel, Davies (1985), and three collections of short stories: Back at the Spike (1994), Under the Dam ( 2005) and The Shieling (2009). He is an editor and translator of Hölderlin, Goethe, Kleist and Brecht. His translation of Goethe’s Faust, Part I was published by Penguin in 2005; Part II in April 2009. With his wife Helen he edits Modern Poetry in Translation.
Aminatta Forna’s most recent published work is The Memory of Love (April 2010) a story about friendship, war and obsessive love. It has been selected as one of the Best Books of the Year by the Sunday Telegraph, Financial Times and Times. Her previous novel Ancestor Stones was a New York Times Editor's Choice book, selected by the Washington Post as one of the Best Novels of 2006, won the Hurston Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction, the Liberaturpreis in Germany and was nominated for the International Dublin IMPAC Award. The Devil that Danced on the Water, a memoir of her dissident father. The Devil that Danced on the Water was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003, serialised on BBC Radio and in The Sunday Times newspaper. Aminatta is a trustee of the Royal Literary Fund and sits on the advisory committee of the Caine Prize for African Writing.
Sarah Hall was born in Cumbria in 1974. She received a BA from Aberystwyth University, Wales, and a MLitt in Creative Writing from St Andrews , Scotland . She is the author of Haweswater, which won the 2003 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel, a Society of Authors Betty Trask Award, and a Lakeland Book of the Year prize. In 2004, her second novel, The Electric Michelangelo, was short-listed for the Man Booker prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia region), and the Prix Femina Etranger, and was long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her third novel, The Carhullan Army, was published in 2007, and won the 2006/07 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the James Tiptree Jr. Award, a Lakeland Book of the Year prize, and was short-listed for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction. Her fourth novel, How to Paint a Dead Man, was longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize.
Jon McGregor is the author of the critically acclaimed If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways To Begin. He is the winner of the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award, and has twice been longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He was born in Bermuda in 1976. He grew up in Norfolk and now lives in Nottingham. Even the Dogs is his third novel.
Helen Oyeyemi was born in 1984. She is the author of three novels, The Icarus Girl, The Opposite House and White is For Witching, and a short story collection, Mr Fox, to be published in summer 2011.