English poet and novelist Sarah Hall has become the first writer to win the BBC National Short Story Award for the second time. She won the top honour for the story, The Grotesques. A report in The Guardian quotes Jonathan Freedland, journalist and chair of judges, saying, “In perhaps the strongest field in the history of the award, Hall’s story still stood out. “A timeless, unsettling story rendered in exquisite prose, The Grotesques yields more with each reading, offering layer upon layer of meaning. It is the work of a writer who is not only devotedly committed to the short story genre but has become a master of it.”
Other judges include playwright Lucy Caldwell, author Irenosen Okojie, critic Chris Power and Di Speirs.
Hall has been nominated four times in the past and last won in 2013 for her story, Mrs Fox. “I’m stunned to have won. No one expects to repeat a shortlisting, let alone be honoured with an award like this twice. It’s an incredible privilege and reward. And with this prize comes a tremendous amount of support for the form itself – from tenacious, passionate advocates at the BBC and Cambridge University, to expert judges, and the writers who continue to innovate, experiment and create astonishing, vital, questioning worlds within stories,” Hall was quoted as saying in a report in the Evening Express.
We are delighted to announce that Sarah Hall is the winner of the BBC National Short Story Award 2020! She’s the first writer to win the prize twice and you can hear her story, The Grotesques here: https://t.co/VArGCiYVKK #BBCNSSA pic.twitter.com/wGW6IwgZT8
— BBC Front Row (@BBCFrontRow) October 6, 2020
“There are few writers who make even the shortlist more than once. In one way this reflects the wealth of talent writing in the UK; in another it shows how very hard it is to consistently write new original short fiction and make it different, entertaining, gripping, provocative, again and again. Fifteen years ago, we began this award hoping to reward the writers who—against the odds and fashion and publishers’ preference for a novel—not only persisted but revelled in taking up the particular challenges of short fiction. To keep writing really excellent short stories requires audacity, invention and practice. So I’m particularly delighted that, from a brilliant shortlist, Sarah Hall, a virtuoso in this field, sees her long service in the short story game recognised again,” Di Speirs was quoted as saying in a report in The Bookseller.
The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University was founded in 2005 and the recipient of this prize receives £15,000.
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