New £15,000 prize aims to restore the glory of the short story

Today, with the announcement at the Edinburgh International Book Festival of the world's largest award for a short story, plans are afoot to put it back at the heart of the modern literary landscape.

In an attempt to rejuvenate the literary form, organisers of the National Short Story Prize are offering £15,000 to the winner and £3,000 for the runner-up in what they hope will become an annual event of the size and prominence of the Man Booker Prize.

Funded by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) and supported by BBC Radio 4 and Prospect magazine, the award aims to re-establish the importance of the short story after many years of neglect. It is open to authors in the United Kingdom with a previous record of publication.

A little more than 20 years ago children were entertained by Jackanory and their parents by Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected. There was a blossoming market in short stories as numerous magazines, especially women's, devoted pages and pages to fictional tales.

But by the early Nineties short stories became unfashionable as they were wiped from the magazines and replaced with true-life tales and celebrity gossip.

The publishing phenomenon of the short story, which grew to prominence with Victorian periodicals such as the fiction-packed Strand magazine, which sold more than 300,000 copies when it launched in January 1891, came to an end in Britain.

Although still a popular genre in the US and elsewhere, the organisers of the new prize feel that too much emphasis is placed on the novel as the only way for an author to make a name.

"The novel is a capacious old whore: everyone has a go at her, but she rarely emits so much as a groan for their efforts," said Alex Linklater, deputy editor of Prospect. "The short story, on the other hand, is a nimble goddess: she selects her suitors fastidiously and sings like a dove when they succeed.

"The British literary bordello is heaving with flabby novels; it's time to give back some love to the story."

It is hoped the award will attract fledgling and establish writers. Entries are limited to stories of no more than 8,000 words, written in English. Only two will be accepted per author.

Any story entered must either be unpublished or if published then the first and only publication must have been between 1 January and 31 December this year.

Entries will be considered by a panel of judges, including William Boyd, the Scottish novelist; Francine Stock, the broadcaster and writer; Alex Linklater; Di Spiers, a Radio 4 producer; and the writer Lavinia Greenlaw. A shortlist of five stories will be broadcast on Radio 4 next March.

The winner will be announced in May 2006 and the story published and distributed by Prospect.

"Nesta is all about supporting innovation, and while the UK short story may not be new - with a strong history from Joseph Conrad to Will Self - it has been dormant for too long," said Chris Powell, chairman of Nesta.

"The National Short Story Prize will address this by filling a gap in the awards market and breathing life into this once great British literary form, helping it to identify and reward a new generation of talented UK writers."

The award will also form the centrepiece of a UK-wide campaign by Booktrust and the Scottish Book Trust, the national agency for readers and writers, to expand opportunities for British writers, readers, magazines and publishers of the short story.

Lucrative literature awards

The Man Booker Prize

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is considered one of the world's most prestigious awards. In addition to the £50,000 prize, the honour has the power to transform the fortunes of authors. The most-recent winner was Alan Hollinghurst forThe Line of Beauty - he has since sold 10 times more copies.

Whitbread Book of the Year

The Whitbread Book of the Year was introduced in 1985 as part of the Whitbread Book Awards, established in 1971. The most recent winner, Andrea Levy, won for Small Island, earning her £25,000. After the award sales of her book rose to more than 4,000 copies within days and it has now sold 20,000 copies worldwide.

Orange Prize for Fiction

The Orange Prize for Fiction was set up in 1996 to celebrate fiction written by women throughout the world. Lionel Shriver won the award this year with her seventh novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin, receiving £30,000 and a limited-edition bronze figurine. Winners can expect to sell up to 10,000 paperbacks a month.

VS Pritchett Memorial Prize

A prize of £1,000 is offered for an unpublished short story in memory of the celebrated author Victor Sawdon Pritchett, who became famous as a result of his short stories. The 2005 recipient was the shopkeeper and sub-postmaster Jonathan Haylett, for his short story Bendera Beach.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star