MARLENE OR NUMBER 16
YELENA MOSKOVICH’S ‘Marlene or Number 16’ was the remarkable story which - out of over 700 submissions and some incredible work - won the 2016/17 Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize.
To read the Bookseller profile of Yelena and her winning story, click here.
To read ‘Marlene or Number 16’, click here.
The judges of the 2016/17 GBP Short Story Prize on Yelena Moskovich’s ‘Marlene or Number 16’
‘Unlike novels, the brevity of short stories means they sometimes wear their structures and purposes very heavily – you can sense the author’s destination, and mark off the waypoints they use on their way to it. “Marlene or Number 16” had none of this, giving a brilliant sense of a life lived whilst also creating a satisfyingly self-contained story. The writing was compelling: modern and real and bitter without being callous. Altogether a very sophisticated piece writing and the most convincingly brilliant of all this year’s submissions.’
‘As soon as I entered Marlene’s world – an ethnically mixed neighbourhood in northern Paris – I knew it would stay with me. Yelena Moskovich writes intriguingly, sometimes scrappily, but in a way that’s constantly inventive, surprising and addictive. Marlene can take a place alongside Lou Reed’s gallery of the beaten up and loveless, especially when she finds herself lying in the gutter looking at the stars.’
‘“Marlene or Number 16” is an adventurous story with an unusual structure and set-up demonstrating real technical proficiency and skill... But actually that isn't what grabbed me initially and stayed with me for weeks after my first reading. What really matters is that this is a story full of heart and human insight and beautifully-tempered emotion. … But I couldn’t really mention one story without mentioning all of them. I’m tempted to trot out the old cliché that the great pity of the prize is that we could only choose one winner... But I guess I could also say that it's all the more impressive that Marlene or Number 16 won when the others had so much to recommend them.’
‘Right from the very start of the judging process, “Marlene or Number 16” stood out. It’s structurally inventive – the “MARLENE” at the beginning of each paragraph lends the piece an almost incantatory quality (something only accentuated by the harsh, staccato rhythms of Moskovich’s line-on-line sentences). Beyond that, Moskovich also manages to create – in just a few thousand words – a Paris which is expansive, unsentimental, and utterly credible. As to exploration of the emotional aftermath of relationship break-up (which is what, at its heart, I think “Marlene or Number 16” is about) – the reading experience becomes almost viscerally painful.’