Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

"The National Short Story Prize 2007" (Atlantic Books, 2007)

Like a Booker Prize for short stories. The winner gets 15,000 pounds. There were over 400 entries, but only authors with a previous record of publishing fiction could enter. The short-listed writers were

  • David Almond - you'll admire his story more if you haven't read Skellig
  • Jonathan Falla - at 32 pages, the longest piece, and felt like it. A old man and younger woman, both cuckolded, live in a guest-house named after a Saint whose breasts had been cut off by pagans. The woman's brother-in-law was castrated by guerrillas.
  • Julian Gough - fun. It begins "If I had urinated immediately after breakfast, the mob would never have burst down the orphanage", and by way of a Radiohead-loving farmer, a political rally and a dog called Agamemnon reaches a rather tame ending.
  • Jackie Kay - "He got a letter the other day, can't remember when because the days have got mixed up. It said - wait a minute, here it is in his trouser pocket. Actually, let him have a fag to go with it - 'Dear Malcolm ...", "He taught all his bairns to swim, by the way: breast stroke, crawl, even butterfly. People doing the butterfly look mental don't they.", "He must admit you start to have your wee doubts when you're involved in a big plan like this"
  • Hanif Kureishi - 4 pages, the shortest. Too short.

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