UW Alumna shortlisted for BBC National Short Story Award 2014

Posted on 18 September 2014
Francesca Rhydderch

Francesca Rhydderch

Announced live Wednesday evening on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, University of Wales Alumna Francesca Rhydderch has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2014, in partnership with Booktrust. In the third all-female shortlist in nine years, the shortlist sees five writers tackle pivotal moments in a woman’s life from girlhood to middle age, including sex and love, death and disintegration.

The shortlist, selected from over 550 entries, features an all-star line-up of acclaimed writers: the majority of whom are established masters of the short story form. Tessa Hadley is the author of two collections of short stories in addition to five novels, while Rose Tremain will publish her fifth volume of short stories in November and Lionel Shriver has been shortlisted for the EFG Sunday Times Award. Both Tremain and Shriver have also both been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award before. Award-winning novelist and essayist, Zadie Smith is also on the 2014 shortlist. Rhydderch joins these four established author as a talented newcomer. A Welsh novelist and playwright, her debut The Rice Paper Diaries was longlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award and won the Wales Book of the Year Award for Fiction 2014.

This year’s shortlist is:

  • Bad Dreams by Tessa Hadley 
  • The Taxidermist's Daughter by Francesca Rhydderch 
  • Kilifi Creek by Lionel Shriver 
  • Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets by Zadie Smith 
  • The American Lover by Rose Tremain

Transporting readers across the world from New York to Kenya, London to Paris, and to a Welsh seaside town, the stories feature a gap-year student who cheats death; a performer coming to terms with middle age, a disappointed lover; and two young girls whose eyes are opened to a more complicated adult world. Rhydderch’s The Taxidermist’s Daughter brilliantly depicts a young girl in post-war rural Wales first becoming aware of her sexuality and the attractions of an older man.

Born in Aberystwyth, Rhydderch studied for her first degree in Modern languages at Cambridge University. She then returned to Wales to continue her studies and was awarded a PhD from the then University of Wales, Aberystwyth for her comparative study on the work of Virginia Woolf and Kate Roberts. Her début novel, The Rice Paper Diaries, published in 2013, was longlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and won the Wales Book of the Year Award for Fiction. Her short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies and broadcast on Radio 4, and she recently received a Literature Wales bursary to work on her first collection of short fiction. Other projects include a play in Welsh, Cyfaill, about iconic Welsh-language writer Kate Roberts, for which she was shortlisted for the Theatre Critics Wales Best Playwright Award 2014.

Speaking about the news, she said: “As the newcomer on a shortlist featuring some extremely well-respected and successful writers, I'm delighted to have been nominated for this award.”

Joining BBC Creative Director and presenter Alan Yentob on this year’s judging panel is writer, illustrator and performer, Laura Dockrill, poet and novelist, Adam Foulds, Editor-at-large, Scribe Publications, Philip Gwyn Jones, and longstanding judge BBC Radio Editor of Books, Di Speirs.

Alan Yentob, Chair of Judges commented: “The enthusiasm of writers, both established and emerging, is very much in evidence in this, the ninth BBC National Short Story Award. With the quality and diversity of the work submitted, it has been a pleasure and a challenge to serve as this year’s Chair. Choosing just five stories for our shortlist has been no mean feat, but I am delighted that we have been able to present such a rich and varied selection. The short story form has a unique ability to capture a single defining moment. It invites us to dive headfirst into another world and to savour an experience which can remain with us for a very long time to come. In their very different ways these five stories do just that.”

The BBC National Short Story Award celebrates the best of contemporary British short fiction and is one of the most prestigious prizes for a single short story with the winning author receiving £15,000; the runner up £3,000 and the three further shortlisted authors £500 each.

The winner and runner-up of this year’s Award will be announced at a ceremony held in BBC Broadcasting House’s Radio Theatre on Tuesday 30 September 2014, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. During the live edition of Front Row, presenter John Wilson will also be in conversation with acclaimed writer Hilary Mantel, as part of a programme celebrating the short story.

An interview with each of the shortlisted writers will be broadcast daily on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row from Friday 19 September. Five top actors, including Carey Mulligan and Rebecca Hall, will then read one of the shortlisted stories, broadcast daily on BBC Radio 4 at 3.30pm from Monday 22 September. Each story will also be available as a free download from the day of broadcast for 30 days at www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/nssa.

For further information on the Award, please visit www.booktrust.org.uk/bbcnssa, follow @Booktrust and #BBCNSSA on Twitter or email bbcnssa@booktrust.org.uk

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