It’s a shorter short-list for this theme. There were some notable entries that did not make it. Rhuar Dean’s story The Beach was a brilliantly observed depiction of a tense culture clash on a Dubai beach, but took a little too long to establish a narrator who played no part in the action. Siobhan O’Tierney’s story The Searchers had a touching and ambiguous relationship at it’s close but, again, we felt that the story took too long to get going, and contained too much exposition in the early sections. We enjoyed them both, but felt we had to work a little too hard to get to the core of the story.
What we did include we think represents a range of approaches to the topic, and the best stories. We have two writers from England, one from Scotland, one from America, and one from Ireland. Shockingly, after the Canadian domination of this competition, there are no Canadians on the list. We don’t generally check the location of short-listed authors until it has been decided, so this was as much a surprise to us as anyone.
You can access the short-listed stories here.
Rowan Martin has written about where she lives in “Govanhell” which will pretty much reinforce everyone’s prejudices about life in Glasgow. We can only assume that she must have killed people to survive, so thought it prudent to include her. And we liked her story.
Then we have Richard Lakin and Andrew Hanson giving two very different visions of English urban life. Richard’s choice of subject matter and principle characters sold it for us, as this was a world we felt we had never read about before. For Andrew we really enjoyed the setting and some of the flourishes.
Daire O’Driscoll’s story reminded us of an Irish Borges, and was one of the most distinctive pieces that we received. Last, and not least, Some Go Dancing by Michael Davis was a great character study and slice of life piece. Having just finished reading Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son for the second time, this certainly struck a chord with one of our number.
Congratulations to you for getting this far, and good luck to all of you.
That said, our opinion is now irrelevant. It is over to Eric Westerlind to execute or reprieve our authors. Go, Eric!