Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Edge Hill Short Story Prize Takes One Giant Step for Womankind

When the SI Leeds Literary Prize started in 2012, one of the first things asked was: Who would benefit most from a literary prize run by the Soroptimists of Leeds? Well, after this discussion, and after much research into which writers are least likely to make it into the bestseller lists, it was decided by the Soroptimists to team up with Peepal Tree Press and Ilkley Literature Festival to create a prize to serve black and Asian women fiction writers from the UK.

Times are changing, but women (especially our ethnic minority women) are still largely underrepresented and under-served by the current publishing industry. It seems the Edge Hill Short Story Prize has cottoned onto this too, as this year they offer up an all-female shortlist. The shortlist was not planned as an all-female shortlist, however, but ended up that way by sheer accident.

"Women writers have always featured strongly on the shortlist, but it is quite unusual to have all female finalists for a literary prize," said Dr Ailsa Cox, Reader in Creative Writing and English at Edge Hill University and co-ordinator of the Prize.

"We're delighted by the sheer quality and diversity of the shortlist. A good short story is intense and exciting, sometimes sad and often very comic. The five collections all have these vital ingredients - so I predict that judging will be difficult this year."

The shortlisted writers are:
  • A.J Ashworth - Somewhere Else, Or Even Here (Salt Publishing).
  • Tessa Hadley - Married Love (Cape).
  • Sarah Hall - The Beautiful Indifference (Faber).
  • Zoe Lambert - The War Tour (Comma).
  • Rowena Macdonald - Smoked Meat (Flambard).

I'm intrigued to see who wins! I'm also pleased that indie presses are so well represented on this list. Good luck, fellow writers!

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