I was thrilled to be asked to be on the judging panel for this year’s Leicester Writes Short Story Prize. The shortlist of 11 stories was selected by Rebecca Burns, Melissa Fu and myself from the 20 exceptional stories on this year’s longlist.

The longlist was full to brimming of poweful stories in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I was particularly taken by how, in this year of self-isolation, the theme of connection and characters struggling to communicate their need to others moves so strongly through so many of the stories. But then that’s always been something the short story does particularly well, tell the story of those isolated within a society, community or family.

The longlist had so many contenders for the top spots, and it was tough to whittle down the longlist to a list of ten stories. So tough that we ended up selecting a longlist of eleven stories. The stories we finally landed on for this year’s shortlist were (in alphabetical order):

A How to Guide
Don’t Feed Me Raw Papayas
Hot Enough to Melt Bones
La Terre Promise
Low Level
Miss Aveline’s Summerhouse
Permission to Communicate
Rock’n’Roll is History

We then had the even tougher job of whittling down this shortlist, the results of which can now be found over on the Leicester Writes Short Story website. Head over there to check out which of the above were the winning and highly commended stories.

Congrats to everyone who made it to the longlist. And massive congrats to our shortlistees, highly commended writers, and, of course, our winners. It was a genuine pleasure to read all your stories. Thanks for sharing them with us.