The winner will receive £1,000, a day’s publishing workshop at 4th Estate (a UK press founded in Notting Hill in 1984 and acquired by Harper Collins in 2000), and their piece published on The Guardian website.
Last year’s winner was Lisa Smith, for her short story ‘Auld Lang Syne’, which describes an elderly, incarcerated man on New Year’s Eve, and was lauded for its “subtle and sly look at ageing and masculinity”.
Judge and Guardian writer Sian Cain described ‘Auld Lang Syne’ as: “A perfect example of what the short story can do when the form is at its best: containing as much of an emotional blow as that of a 800-page novel, regardless of its brevity.”
Speaking on the prize, Smith said: “Winning the Guardian 4th Estate BAME short story prize was incredible and I was delighted to win, especially given the strong stories and talented writers on last year’s shortlist. To get some recognition as a new writer has made an unbelievable difference to me. Writing is exposing, so to have people from the literary world praise my work and reward it was a tremendous boost to my confidence.”
Launched in 2015, The Guardian 4th Estate BAME short story prize was set up to counter the lack of diversity in the UK’s predominantly white, publishing industry. Following a series of reports on the subject from University of Wisconsin-Madison, a current study from Arts Council England is currently underway, that is set to expose the “paucity” of diversity in children’s literature, according to reports from The Guardian, a genre that is particularly emblematic of the industry-wide problem.
As well as the Guardian 4th Estate short story prize, various other initiatives have been set up to support authors from BAME communities, such as Nikesh Shukla and Julia Kingsford’s The Good Journal, a quarterly publication showcasing the best work from writers and artists of colour, and WriteNow, a Random House-led initiative that looks to “mentor and publish new writers from communities under-represented on the nation’s bookshelves”.
To enter, applicants need to be over 18 and living in the UK or Ireland, and submit their short story of up to 6,000 words by June 1st 2018. The longlist will be announced July 9th, before a shortlist is drawn up on August 6th, with the winner being announced on September 12th at a prize ceremony in London.
Click here to visit 4th Estate’s website for more information on the prize, and use the hashtag #BAMEprize to join the conversation on Twitter.