Booker Prize shortlistee Daisy Johnson and beatboxer Testament have today been announced as judges of the BBC’s National Short Story Award and Young Writers’ Award with Cambridge University and First Story – as submissions for the 2019 competitions open.

Cambridge has produced great writers for many hundreds of years, and we look forward to discovering the new and diverse writers these awards give a voice to.

James Gazzard

The BBC National Short Story Award is one of the most prestigious prizes for a single short story, with the winning author receiving £15,000, and four further shortlisted authors £600 each. The stories are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in an anthology.

The 2018 winner of the BBC National Short Story Award was Trinidadian writer Ingrid Persaud, who won for The Sweet Sop, her ‘tender and ebullient’ story about a father-son relationship. Persaud’s 2018 victory was announced during a live broadcast of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from Cambridge University’s West Road Concert Hall, with the winner of the 2018 BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University also revealed, before a reception at Cambridge University Library.

Previous alumni include Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel, Jon McGregor and William Trevor.

This year marks the 14th year of the award with broadcaster Nikki Bedi chairing the judging panel for 2019. Nikki is a television and radio broadcaster who writes and presents The Arts Hour on BBC World Service and BBC Radio London. Her counterpart on the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (YWA) is BBC Radio 1 and CBBC’s Book Club presenter Katie Thistleton, who will chair the judging panel for the teenage award for the second time as it opens for submissions for the fifth year.

Bedi and Thistleton will be joined by an esteemed group of award-winning writers and artists on their respective panels. For the BBC National Short Story Award: novelist and writer of narrative non-fiction, Richard Beard; short story writer, novelist and youngest author to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Daisy Johnson; screenwriter, novelist and 2017 BBC National Short Story Award winner, Cynan Jones; and returning judge, Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio.

For the BBC Young Writers’ Award, Thistleton will lead former teacher and Betty Trask Award winner, Anthony Cartwright; Waterstones Prize and YA Bookseller Prize-winning writer, Patrice Lawrence; winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year children’s author, Kiran Millwood Hargrave; and writer, rapper and world-record breaking human beatboxer, Testament.

James Gazzard, Director of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education, home to the Centre for Creative Writing, said: “Cambridge has produced great writers for many hundreds of years, and we look forward to discovering the new and diverse writers these awards give a voice to.

“This collaboration with the BBC and First Story contributes to the University’s and our Vice-Chancellor’s commitment of opening up Cambridge to all, to nurturing talent in new ways, while drawing on the unique teaching and academic environment that the University famously provides. We were delighted with the numbers of writers who decided to take part last year. The success of First Story’s Young Writer’s Festival on our Sidgwick Site – as well as our own Short Story Festival at Madingley Hall – proved that the form is not only alive and well, but thriving.”

Nikki Bedi, Chair of the 2019 BBC National Short Story Award Judging Panel, said “The short story is my favourite form of literature and there is nothing more delicious and perfect for me than devouring, digesting and loving a surprising and perfectly formed short story. From sneakily reading my parents’ copies of Roald Dahl’s dark works when I was far too young, I developed a taste for the form that has never left me.

"There are so many undiscovered voices and stories waiting to be told out there and we’ll be in the privileged position of receiving and reading them. I’m looking forward to works that transport me to new places, physically and culturally.”

The writers shortlisted for the BBC Young Writers’ Award have their stories broadcast on a special Radio 1’s Life Hacks Podcast, and published in an anthology. Entrants can access a virtual treasure trove for writing inspiration courtesy of Cambridge University Library’s specially curated digital archive. The winner of the 2018 Young Writers’ Award was 17-year-old Davina Bacon for her ‘compassionate’ and ‘intelligent’ story Under a Deep Blue Sky. The previous winners are Brennig Davies for Skinning, Lizzie Freestone for Ode to a Boy Musician and 2017 winner, Elizabeth Ryder for The Roses.

In addition, the BBC Student Critics’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University (SCA) launches today and calls for applications. 2018 saw 600 16–18-year-old students from 40 schools flex their critical muscles as they read, discussed and critiqued the five shortlisted NSSA stories. For 2019, this activity is being extended to encourage wider community link-ups between schools, colleges, libraries and bookshops around the UK.

Full Terms and Conditions for the NSSA and YWA are available with submissions accepted online at www.bbc.co.uk/nssa and www.bbc.co.uk/ywa from 9am (GMT), 13th December 2018. The Terms and Conditions for the BBC Student Critics’ Award can be found here. The deadline for receipt of entries for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University is 9am (GMT) Monday, 11th March, 2019. The deadline for receipt of entries for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University is 9am (GMT), Monday, 25th March, 2019. The deadline for receipt of applications for the BBC Student Critics’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University is 9am (GMT), Monday, 1st April, 2019.

The shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University will be announced on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row at 7.15pm on Friday, 6th September, 2019. Readings of the shortlisted stories will broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from Monday 9th to Friday 13th September and interviews with the shortlisted writers will air from Friday, 6th September, 2019 on Front Row. The shortlist for the BBC Young Writers’ Award with First Story and Cambridge University will be announced on Radio 1’s Life Hacks from 4pm on Sunday, 22nd September, 2019.

The announcement of the winners of the BBC National Short Story Award and BBC Young Writers’ Award will be broadcast live from the Award ceremony in BBC Broadcasting House on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from 7.15pm on Tuesday, 1st October, 2019.

 


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