The winner of the Novella Award, hosted by Liverpool John Moores University, will be announced in Leaf, Bold Street, tonight.
Launched in 2014, 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 It is awarded to a previously unpublished work of fiction, between 20,000-40,000 words in length.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 the Screen School of LJMU and Manchester Metropolitan University’s Department of Contemporary Arts, who originally established The Novella Award. Sandstone Press, Time to Read, and NAWE are all partners of the award and work alongside it to encourage the publication of new writing.
The winner of the Novella Award 2015 is Nina Allan. Allan’s winning novella The Harlequin beat stiff competition from 128 other entries to win the £1,000 cash prize and publishing deal with award-winning Scottish independent publisher Sandstone Press.
Nina Allan from Umberleigh in Devon is the previous winner of the British Science Fiction Award for her first novella Spin and has been shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson Award for her second novella The Gateway in 2014. Her debut novel The Race was shortlisted for the Kitschies Red Tentacle, The British Science Fiction Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2015.
The Harlequin follows Dennis Beaumont who drove an ambulance in World War One. He returns home to London, hoping to pick up his studies at Oxford and rediscover the love he once felt for his fiancée Lucy. But nothing is as it once was. Mentally scarred by his experiences in the trenches, Beaumont finds himself wandering further into darkness. He is filled with questions about the past and the present: what really happened to the injured soldier he tried to save? Who is the figure that lurks in the shadows? How much do they know of Beaumont, and the secrets he keeps?
Award judge Alison Moore, award winning author of The Lighthouse and He Wants, says, ‘The Harlequin had me hooked from the very first line and continues to shift and haunt long after reading.’
Alison’s fellow judge Nicholas Royle, editor of Salt Publishing’s influential Best British Short Stories anthologies says The Harlequin ‘evokes a particular time and place with impressive confidence and assuredness. Nina Allan clearly understands that a novella is neither a long short story nor a short novel, but something distinct. An outstanding, resonant piece of work.’
Robert Graham, founder and Director of The Novella Award says; 'It's fantastic that The Novella Award is now in its second year and is growing steadily. We are continuing to be overwhelmed by an array of incredible novellas, all differing in genre, style and voice, from across the globe. The novella is an immersive and exciting form, and I am delighted that LJMU is hosting the award in 2015, before its return to MMU next year.'
The Harlequin stood out from a strong field of entries with themes ranging from forgiveness and coming of age to self-destruction and secrets. The other shortlisted authors were Alix Christie, previous winner of the McGinnis-Ritchie Award, Zoë Ranson, shortlisted for the 2015 Myriad Editions fiction prize, Kevin Parry, previous winner of the Bridport and Fish short story competition, Penny Simpson, recipient of an Arts Council of Wales New Writers' Bursary, an Arts Council Travel Bursary and a Hawthornden Fellowship and authors Brian Petkash, who has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Tampa, and Michael Wyndham Thomas, poet-in-residence at the annual Robert Frost Poetry Festival in Florida.
The Harlequin will be published by Sandstone Press on 16 October.