Award-winning journalist and author JONATHAN FREEDLAND and broadcaster KATIE THISTLETON to chair 2020 BBC Short Story Award panels that include ‘Everyday Sexism Project’ founder LAURA BATES; award-winning YA writer MUHAMMAD KHAN; previous BBC NSSA shortlisted writer LUCY CALDWELL; and Betty Trask Award winner IRENOSEN OKOJIE.
The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (NSSA) and BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (YWA) open for submissions today with Radio 4 presenter, journalist and author Jonathan Freedland chairing the judging panel for the BBC NSSA, an award that has enriched both the careers of writers and the wider literary landscape since its launch fifteen years ago.
Jonathan’s counterpart on the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (YWA) is Radio 1 Presenter Kate Thistleton. She chairs the judging panel for the teenage award for the third time as it opens for submissions for the sixth year. Katie is the presenter of Radio 1’s Life Hacks and The Official Chart: First Look. The BBC Young Writers’ Award has lowered its age limit this year from 14 to 13 years old and will now be open to all writers between the ages of 13-18 years. This will offer continuity from BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words competition for 5-13 year olds which also opens for submissions today.
Jonathan Freedland, Chair of the 2020 BBC National Short Story Award Judging Panel, says:
“It’s a great honour to be asked to chair the judges for this year’s BBC National Short Story Award. It’s a form that allows for narratives of great economy and, with that, particular intensity. As Roald Dahl, whose stories I lapped up as a teenager, proved, a good short story can linger in the mind long after countless voluminous novels have been forgotten. It’s the three-minute pop song of literature –
a discipline that seems easy but requires complete mastery of the craft. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what today’s writers have on their minds – and what they have to tell us about the way we live now.”
Freedland and Thistleton will be joined by a group of acclaimed writers and critics on their respective panels. For the BBC National Short Story Award: Commonwealth Prize winner Lucy Caldwell who was shortlisted for both the 2012 and 2019 BBC NSSA; British Nigerian writer Irenosen Okojie, a Betty Trask winner and Jhalak Prize shortlistee; Edge Hill Prize shortlistee and Guardian short story columnist Chris Power; and returning judge, Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio.
For the BBC Young Writers’ Award, Thistleton will be joined by Laura Bates, Sunday Times bestselling author and founder of ‘The Everyday Sexism Project’; screenwriter, novelist and YA Book Prize 2018 winner Will Hill; winner of the Branford Boase Award and shortlistee for the YA Book Prize 2019 Muhammad Khan; and poet, critic and journalist Bridget Minamore.
Katie Thistleton, Chair of the 2020 BBC Young Writers’ Award Judging Panel, says:
“I’m really looking forward to chairing the judging panel for the BBC Young Writers Award for my third year in a row! I’ve been really impressed with the standard of work we’ve received in the past couple of years. As I host Radio 1’s social action and mental health show Life Hacks, I love reading the work that comes in, as it is a great reflection of what young people are thinking about and feeling at the time. I always wanted to be a writer when I was younger but wasn’t sure I’d be good enough – people shouldn’t let that stop them. Just write what you feel and send it in, you never know! Everyone has a story to tell and we can’t wait to read yours.”
The BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The stories are broadcast on Radio 4 and published in an anthology. The 2019 winner of the BBC National Short Story Award was Welsh writer Jo Lloyd, who won for ‘The Invisible’, a timeless story set in Wales and inspired by social divisions and folklore. Previous alumni of the award include Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel and Jon McGregor.
The writers shortlisted for the BBC Young Writers’ Award have their stories broadcast in a special Radio 1’s Life Hacks podcast and published in an anthology. The winner of the 2019 Young Writers’ Award was 16-year-old Georgie Woodhead for her vivid and tragi-comic story ‘Jelly-headed’. Both stories are available to listen to on BBC Sounds.
Di Speirs, BBC Books Editor and Judge for the 2020 BBC National Short Award says:
“It’s always an exciting moment when we launch the BBC National Short Story Award, and, alongside the BBC Young Writers Award, commence the search for the best short story writers of 2020. As always it will be illuminating and inspiring to see the themes that will surface, the tones that will stand out, the surprises in store. As we reach our fifteenth year and also look back on the wealth and range of authors we’ve fostered and celebrated, it’s a privilege and a joy to begin the hunt again as we continue to reflect the BBC’s deep commitment both to writers and our listeners who love the short story form.”
Antonia Byatt, Chief Executive, First Story, says:
“At First Story we are always really impressed by the quality, innovation and energy of writing produced by our young writers. The BBC Short Story Awards are a great way of discovering some of the best new stories around and introduces the world to some really original new voices”.
Dr Sarah Dillon, University of Cambridge, says:
“It is with great anticipation that the University of Cambridge enters into the third year of its collaboration with the BBC and with First Story on these Awards. The University’s Institute of Continuing Education’s Centre for Creative Writing takes great pride in supporting and nurturing writing in the short form, a genre that is always so adept at responding to the contemporary moment. The shortlisted stories over the past two years of our involvement with the awards, for both adults and young writers, have been remarkable and we are proud to support today’s best contemporary writers.”
KEY AWARD DATES:
- The deadline for receipt of entries for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University is 9am (GMT) Monday 9th March 2020. The deadline for receipt of entries for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University is 9am (GMT) Monday 23rd March 2020.
- The shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University will be announced on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row at 7.15pm on Friday 11th September 2020. The shortlist for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University will be announced on Radio 1’s Life Hacks from 4pm on Sunday 20th September 2020.
- The stories shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University will broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from Monday 14th to Friday 18th September 2020 from 3.30pm to 4pm.
- The announcement of the winners of the two awards will be broadcast live from the award ceremony at BBC Broadcasting House on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm on Tuesday 6th October 2020.