The BBC National Short Story Award


Edited by James Runcie

Featuring Lucy Caldwell, Rory Gleeson, Georgina Harding, Danny Rhodes & Richard Smyth

A group of teenage boys take turns assessing  each other’s changing bodies before a Friday night disco…

A grieving woman strikes up an unlikely friendship with a fellow traveller on a night train to Kiev…  

An unusually well-informed naturalist is eyed with suspicion by his comrades on a forest exhibition with a higher purpose… 

The stories shortlisted for the 2021 BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University take place in liminal spaces – their characters find themselves in transit, travelling along flight paths, train lines and roads, or in moments where new opportunities or directions suddenly seem possible. From the reflections of a new mother flying home after a funeral, to an ailing son’s reluctance to return to the village of his childhood, these stories celebrate small kindnesses in times of turbulence, and demonstrate a connection between one another that we might sometimes take for granted. 

The BBC NSSA is one of the most prestigious prizes for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. 

James Runcie is joined on the judging panel by a group of acclaimed writers and critics including: Booker Prize shortlisted novelist Fiona Mozley; award winning writer, poet and winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize, Derek Owusu; multi-award winning Irish novelist and short story writer, Donal Ryan; and returning judge, Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio.

Further reading:

Listen: Front Row, BBC Sounds

Listen: Shortlisted stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 from tomorrow, BBC Radio 4

Prompt: Try to write a story set in the future, using the future tense. Aim for 500 words.

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