Preview: Small Wonder, Charleston, East Sussex

To cut a long story short...

The festival, started last year, is intended to re-establish the British short story after years of neglect. Diana Reich, the artistic director, says: "Some established writers have told me that publishers have groaned and wrung their hands in despair at the mention of short stories. But this is all changing now, and the short story is finally coming back into fashion."

It was Reich, also the director of the Charleston Literature Festival, who wanted to give the story its own event. "The status of the short story languished for 30 years or so in UK publishing, perhaps because there weren't enough well-known writers producing work that attracted attention to the genre," she says. "It was the era of the big blockbusters; doorstoppers attracted more attention."

Zadie Smith launches The Slam - a storytelling competition on the theme of revenge - by reading one of her stories for the new Pocket Penguin collection. Contestants prepare a five-minute story and are judged by the audience.

The Irish author John McGahern, who has written the novels Amongst Women and That They May Face the Rising Sun as well as four collections of short stories and a memoir, makes the case for the Irish as storytellers. William Boyd deals with the challenge of turning short stories into films, and Rose Tremain reads from her new collection. The crime writer Ian Rankin talks about his short-story writing, and Simon Callow gives dramatised readings of two Charles Dickens stories.

15 to 18 September (01273 709709; www.charleston.org.uk/smallwonder)

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