Cover Stories: Jordan; Nelson Mandela; short stories

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The Independent Culture

* In November, Penguin will publish a new book by Nelson Mandela, based on diaries, letters and memorabilia relating to his 27 years in prison on Robben Island. Prisoner in the Garden is being put together by Penguin South Africa, with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Penguin's worldwide CEO, John Makinson, is describing it as a "landmark publishing event". The book will also include notes from the work-in-progress that became Long Walk to Freedom, his autobiography.

* It's a staple cliché of semi-informed literary conversations that the short story is dying, although publishers - especially smaller ones - have been releasing more collections than for years. Maybe the dinner-party complainants don't know about fine examples such as David Constantine's recent Under the Dam (Comma Press). Yet short-haul fiction deserves extra limelight, and the new National Short Story Prize may supply it. Funded by NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) to the tune of £15,000 for the winner and £3,000 for the runner-up, and backed by Radio 4 and Prospect magazine, it is open to published authors - but to unpublished as well as published work. What a shame, then, that Chris Powell of NESTA feels it right to boost this award with the insulting claim that the British short story is "dormant". Only if you don't bother to read it.