Unpublished gems make up The Novella Award shortlist



Image of authors in a montage format

Ranging from tales of wartime woe to contemporary self-discovery, The Novella Award shortlist uncovers a wide variety of unpublished gems from the UK and beyond. 

This year’s shortlist covers a range of themes from forgiveness and coming of age to self-destruction and secrets. The settings and genres of the novellas are just as varied: from Oxford in World War 1 to post-apartheid South Africa and the gritty, contemporary backdrops of Manchester and the Cleveland Stockyards. This year boasts a critically acclaimed list of international writers, including a previous winner and 'shortlistees' of the British Science Fiction Award, Shirley Jackson Award and Bridport and Fish Short Story Competitions.

The shortlist for this year is:

  • The Harlequin by Nina Allan
  • Motherland by Alix Christie
  • The Year of the Horse by Zoë Ranson
  • Mistakes by the Lake by Brian Petkash
  • When It Was Raining by Kevin Parry
  • Esp by Michael Wyndham Thomas
  • In Wolf Village by Penny Simpson

The Novella Award aims to find a short novel to rival Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea or Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. It is awarded to a previously unpublished work of fiction, between 20,000-40,000 words in length.

The venture is a partnership between Liverpool Screen School and Manchester Metropolitan University’s Department of Contemporary Arts, who originally established The Novella Award in 2014. Sandstone Press, Time to Read, and NAWE are all partners of the award and work alongside it to encourage the publication of new writing. 

Judge and award winning author of The Lighthouse and He Wants, Alison Moore, says: 

"As a writer, I know from my own experience what vital opportunities competitions can be, and as a reader, and with my judge's hat on, I'm seeing some very exciting work here. I've been reading through the shortlisted novellas with great interest. I'm looking forward to selecting the winner with Nick."

Alison’s fellow judges are Nicholas Royle, editor of Salt Publishing’s influential Best British Short Stories anthologies and Dr Robert Graham, Head of Creative Writing at Liverpool Screen School.

Robert commented on this year’s awards: 

"We’ve been bowled over by the level of interest the Award has generated this year. Entries have come in from around the world, and the range of subject matter and voices, together with the high standard of the manuscripts we’ve received have left the Novella Award team a little awe-struck."

The winning novella will receive a £1,000 cash prize and publication by award-winning independent publisher Sandstone Press. The runner-up is awarded £500 and a reader’s report. 

Last year’s winner was James Edgecombe for his novella The Art of Kozu which was published by Sandstone Press as part of the prize.

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony being held at Leaf on Bold Street, Liverpool on 7 October.


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