Six Americans, five of them women, have made it onto the shortlist for The Sunday Times EFG Short Story award, making it the first clean sweep for US writers in the inter-national prize’s history, and only the second time that women writers have featured so heavily.
The Sunday Times EFG Short Story award is the world’s richest and most prestigious international prize for short fiction, with £30,000 going to the winner. Past winners have come from Britain, Ireland and New Zealand, as well as America, and have featured three Pulitzer prize-winners.
This year’s shortlist, drawn from a longlist of 15 writers, and a record 810 eligible entries from 40 countries, maintains the award’s record of excellence, and of featuring exciting new writers alongside celebrated names.
The new name this year is Courtney Zoffness, a creative-writing teacher at Drew University in New Jersey, who has yet to publish her first book. She sits on the 2018 list with Allegra Goodman, the author of five novels and two collections of short stories; the writer and film maker Miranda July, whose collection of stories No One Belongs Here More Than You has been published in 23 countries; Victor Lodato, who is shortlisted for the second year running; the Irish-American Molly McCloskey, who has published fiction and non-fiction alongside her career in international development; and Curtis Sittenfeld, the bestselling author of Sisterland and Eligible.
Three of the six stories on the list were first published in the New Yorker; the subjects are impressively varied and feature everything from sexual predation and pornography to Trumpism and homelessness. One of the great strengths of the award is its policy of blind reading, which ensures that the judges do not know the identity of the entrants at or before the longlist stage.
Supported with great generosity by the international private bank EFG, who co-founded the award with The Sunday Times in 2010, the prize has also always prided itself on the quality of its judges: past years have featured AS Byatt, Nick Hornby, Hanif Kureishi, Will Self, Sarah Waters, Rose Tremain, Anne Enright and Melvyn Bragg, among others. This year’s panel more than maintains that tradition, and features the bestselling novelist Sebastian Faulks; the Zimbabwean novelist and short-story writer Petina Gappah; the novelist, short-story writer and professor of creative writing Tessa Hadley; and the broadcaster, journalist and author Mark Lawson. Andrew Holgate, the literary editor of The Sunday Times, completes the line-up.
The winner of the award will be revealed at a gala dinner at London’s Stationers’ Hall on Thursday, April 26. Before then, you can read the six finalists’ stories, published one a day from tomorrow, at the prize’s website, shortstoryaward.co.uk.
The winning story will be printed in The Sunday Times on April 29.