New voices dominate the 2021 BBC NSSA shortlist as three-time nominee Lucy Caldwell is joined by Dublin-born novelist, playwright and screenwriter Rory Gleeson; Orange Prize shortlisted writer Georgina Harding; former postal worker and Creative Writing lecturer Danny Rhodes and journalist, novelist and Mastermind Finalist Richard Smyth.
The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University (BBC NSSA) shortlist was announced this evening, Friday 10 September 2021, during BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. Celebrating 16 years of the Award, the shortlisted writers have been influenced by a year of lockdowns with a focus on kindness, memory, loss and longing. The judges praised the shortlist for its humanity, compassion and hope with the stories inspired by teenage empathy, time passing and journeys triggered by ‘in-between spaces’ like planes and trains, folklore, loneliness, and the ‘Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature’.
The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University 2021 shortlist is:
• ‘All the People Were Mean and Bad’ by Lucy Caldwell
• ‘The Body Audit’ by Rory Gleeson
• ‘Night Train’ by Georgina Harding
• ‘Toadstone’ by Danny Rhodes
• ‘Maykopsky District, Adyghe Oblast’ by Richard Smyth
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 2020 winner of the BBC National Short Story Award was Sarah Hall who won for ‘The Grotesques’. The 2021 winner will be announced live on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on 19th October 2021.
All five stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 and BBC Sounds and published in an anthology produced by Comma Press. The readers of this year’s stories include Harry Potter and Merlin actress Siân Thomas, who reads ‘Night Train’; Northern Irish actress, Laura Pyper reading ‘All the People Were Mean and Bad’; Irish actor and screenwriter, Emmet Kirwan reading ‘The Body Audit’ and Krypton actor, Blake Ritson, reading ‘Maykopsky District, Adyghe Oblast’. TV actor, Shaun Dooley, whose credits include It’s a Sin, Innocent and Coronation Street completes the line-up reading ‘Toadstone’.
Born in Belfast in 1981, Lucy Caldwell is the award-winning author of three novels, several stage plays and radio dramas, and most recently two collections of short stories: Multitudes (Faber, 2016) and Intimacies (Faber, 2021).
She is also the editor of Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber, 2019).
Awards include the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the George Devine Award, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Imison Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, the Irish Writers’ and Screenwriters’ Guild Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Award (Canada & Europe), the Edge Hill Short Story Prize Readers’ Choice Award, a Fiction Uncovered Award, a K. Blundell Trust Award and a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.