2020 Award Round-Up

Thank you very much to everyone who entered the 2020 Bath Short Story Award.

The stress and pressure of this year does, in so many ways, make writing more difficult and our eighth Award closed at the end of April at the height of the pandemic. So it is both astonishing and wonderful that we received 1531 entries from around the world, the majority from the UK but we also received submissions from the USA, Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, Germany, India, Egypt, Singapore and France.

Unsurprisingly, there were a number of explicit Covid stories, though perhaps fewer than we expected, Many stories focussed on isolation, either through old age, sexuality,
homelessness, war, poverty, death of loved ones or displacement. The most popular genre was literary realism but there were some fables, fantasy, magical realism, historical fiction and the occasional humorous story! Some stories used nature metaphorically alongside anthropomorphism as a vehicle to explore human truths, but there were fewer climate emergency stories. Racism featured, as did *MeToo, but the breakdown and loss of relationships proved the most common topic, along with dementia and (in)fertility. The best stories, as always, displayed a prodigious command of language and often engaged the reader through an unexpected perspective. It’s interesting to see experimentation in style and voice and when it works it’s thrilling. A story that rewards repeated reading, is a story you don’t easily forget.

Thanks very much to our team of initial readers, many of whom said they loved the opportunity of reading entry stories during the lockdown period. And further big thanks to our judge, Literary Agent ,Kate Johnson, from the Mackenzie Wolf Literary Agency, for reading our short listed selection and for her insightful and encouraging comments to the winners and the listed writers.

Our 2020 anthology, will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction and available in print and digital versions in November, this year. A brilliant array of stories in a variety of styles and with interesting themes and subject matters pertinent to today’s world.

The 2021 Award will also be open in November and we hope you would like to enter. All writers are welcome. We will have the same substantial prize pot including the Acorn Award for an unpublished writer and very much look forward to reading your stories.

Jude Higgins, Jane Riekemann, Anna Schlesinger and Alison Woodhouse
BSSA Organising Team 2020.