photo by Roy Mattappallil
2012 THRESHOLDS International Feature Writing Competition Shortlist
From the start, our unabashed mission at THRESHOLDS has been to promote and celebrate the reading, writing, study – and pleasure – of the Short Story. We have aimed to provide an open space where individuals can delve into the intricacies of the form, debate their views, and exchange their reading and writing experiences.
In January, we launched our first-ever writing competition to encourage new voices to come forward and enter the discussion. We asked for essays that explored either a single short story or a story collection, or a profile of a short story writer. Essays were to follow the general criteria for our regular ‘We Recommend’ and ‘Author Profile’ feature submissions but with a slightly more generous maximum wordcount.
We received many entries, with submissions coming in from countries all over the world including Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, the United States, India, South Africa, and of course the UK. As it was our first competition, we were not sure what to expect, and so we were delighted to see a truly international turnout.
Entries included examinations of stories by well-known writers such as Angela Carter, Lorrie Moore, Rohinton Mistry, Jorge Luis Borges, Katherine Mansfield, William Trevor, Anton Chekhov and Ernest Hemingway, as well as stories by writers who might be less familiar. I was thrilled to discover work by a number of writers I’d not come across before: Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Frederick Busch, Michael V. Smith. Likewise, the subject of many of the profiles we received were writers of international repute – V.S. Pritchett, Etgar Keret, O. Henry, Ernest Hemingway, Hanif Kureishi – while others, including the Russian writer Daniil Kharms, and the Brazilian writer Benedita Gouveia Damasceno Simonetti, were for me, completely unknown. The competition has provided me an opportunity to extend my own interest in short stories into entirely new realms – which is exactly what we hope THRESHOLDS does for its readers. The short story world is full of literary gems just waiting to be discovered.
But whether the focus of the essay was a well-loved classic, a writer of international renown, or a totally ‘new’ and intriguing ‘discovery’ was not important. Entries were judged on the quality of the writing, the depth of the analysis, and the personal insight which the writer brought to their subject.
Over the past few weeks, the team of THRESHOLDS judges has been busy reading through the entries, drawing up a shortlist, and arguing the case for one of their own personal favourites to become the overall winner of the £250 prize. The judging process has been a difficult one. We received many very strong submissions that we wanted to include in our shortlist. But decisions had to be made and the shortlist needed to be kept short. For that reason, we have also drawn up a list of highly commended essays – and, inevitably, there were still other entries which we would have liked to have included here. As I said, it was a difficult task.
For now, I would like to congratulate the writers whose work has been selected, below. Both lists are full of vibrant, stylish, interesting essays which we hope to be sharing with our readers over the coming months. The overall winner of the £250 prize will be announced on Wednesday 25th April.
Carys Bray: We Recommend Helen Simpson’s Hey Yeah Right Get a Life
Jade Broughton: Author Profile: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Wanda Campbell: We Recommend Margaret Atwood’s ‘Rape Fantasies’
Ever Dundas: Lick My Words: Angela Carter’s ‘The Erl King’
Eamonn Griffin: We Recommend Screwtop Thompson by Magnus Mills
Geoff Holder: We Recommend H.P. Lovecraft
Craig Lamont: We Recommend ‘Slog’s Dad’ by David Almond
Nuala Ní Chonchúir: On Valerie Trueblood
C.D. Rose: Author Profile: Daniil Kharms
Mike Smith: We Recommend: ‘The Higgler’ – A. E. Coppard
Miles Cain: Watch Your Step – The World of Michel Faber
Wanda Campbell: J.D. Salinger’s ‘For Esmé – with Love and Squalor’
Emily Cleaver: Death and the Compass by Jorge Luis Borges
Cyril Dabydeen: Innocence and The Man: Remembering Sam Selvon’s Short Stories
Sarah Hegarty: ‘Ralph the Duck’ by Frederick Busch
Sean Martin: Breece D’J Pancake – A Short Life in the Hills
Scott Morris: The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
Morgan Omotoye: Stereo Past
Ruth Quinlan: Playing With Dolls
Angela Readman: Etgar Keret – Talking Fish, the Moon on a Stick and Weird Shit
Mike Smith: V. S. Pritchett – A Recommendation
Ellie Walsh: ‘What We Wanted’ – A Space of Suspended Morality
Juliet West: Landscape as Metaphor in Brian George’s ‘More Than a Magician’
Bella Whittington: ‘Cartas de Mamá’ by Julio Cortázar
Emma Young: Ali Smith