The Galley Beggar Press
Short Story Prize 2017/18
Let’s go straight to the good news.
The 2017/18 GBP Short Story Prize has a winner:
‘Brothers’, by C.S. Mee.
You can read the story here.
You can also read our three-question interview with C.S. here.
And finally, if you’d like to find out more about C.S., head to her website, here.
‘Brothers’ is a story that impressed and discomfited our judges in the best possible way. As Preti Taneja said, it “has a grip on the reader and doesn’t give its secrets away too easily. It’s good and strange, and very well constructed.” Joanna Walsh described it as “a witty and visceral take on dysmorphic bodies and dysfunctional families”. And here’s Eloise Millar:
“‘Brothers’ doesn’t explain itself at all, and I love that. It plonked me right down in the middle of things and essentially told me to get on with it. This – the positioning of the reader as an interpreter and active participant – requires real confidence and skill. ‘Brothers’ is a lesson in the giving of information – the art of not-too-little, not-too-much.”
I say: “It’s fucked up. I love it.”
‘Brothers’ a worthy and impressive winner. But that doesn’t mean reaching a decision was easy. Judging has taken a long time this year – and mainly because so many of the stories were of similar high quality. The longlist to shortlist stage was particularly hard – and this last stage too. Every one of the final four stories had a particular fan.
On that note, we also want to celebrate all the other examples of fine writing that made our shortlist – and which came so close to winning.
On Paul Bassett Davies’ ‘Seeing the werewolf’ (a story with a fine combination of real characters and bizarre ideas, all presented with steady deadpan skill), Preti Taneja described the disorientation of the narrator, and “the way that he gives into power that he doesn’t understand”, as “thrilling”. As Elly added, ‘Seeing the werewolf’ is also “pitch-perfect in terms of voice, with a disarmingly conversational style. There’s also great warmth and humanity on display – an open-handedness with the characters that makes you come away from the story liking people a little bit more.”
Preti also admired Robert Mason’s gloriously twisted, precise and frightening ‘Curtilage’ – both its “tight, controlled writing” and the way it presents a “vicious fragment of a life”. We also loved the way that – as Elly said – the story amounts to something “altogether wonderful. And everything, from that incantational whispering – curtilage, curtilage – to the devastating vulnerability of the homeowners, conspires to effortlessly (and simultaneously) horrify and hold the reader.”
John Steciuk’s ‘The Land Of Nod’ had a special fan in Joanna, meanwhile – who loved the way its “emotional range is matched by a playful confidence in its deliciously disturbing humour.” Elly also called it “warm-hearted and pleasingly odd (there’s also whole world in this story – a new, fantastical vision of the UK that I want to know more about)”. (NB: To those of you who loved John’s story, too, he’s writing a collection of interlinked stories. So sit tight.)
Fine stories, in other words. Choosing between them wasn’t easy – but our judges rose to the challenge admirably and the result we’ve come away feeling pleasingly warm and fuzzy.
We’re also really happy about the way the prize has gone. It’s been bigger again than last year, and pleasurably internationalist. Stories have come in from all over the world, which makes us hope we’re doing okay and getting better at being open to everyone. Our brilliant judges have also been acting like true citizens of the world, checking in from Spain, the US, India, and further afield... As well as the UK. Tasha too has been battling flu (which is why there’s less from her in this write-up, although her contributions have been invaluable, and she too backed ‘Brothers’ in the end.)
There'll be an event to celebrate this year’s list and prize-winners on the 21st June - and a notice and invite will be put up on the website in due course. Please watch out for this, and please join us.
Finally, we want to extend a huge thank you to our writers on the longlist, the shortlist, and also to everyone who took part. The range of writing and variety of voices has been, as ever, inspiring, and every single story has helped to make the prize what it is, for another year.
Congratulations, C.S. Mee!