|Carol Ann Duffy and Warsan Shire|
Photo (c) Spread the Word
|Totally fab mage of Malika Booker taken by Naomi Woddis for Femficatio.|
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Pereine Press and & Other Stories, who published the 2012 Booker-shortlisted breakaway hit, Swimming Home by Deborah Levy (met her, totally fabulous), which I discuss here in an essay entitled Even The Rich Suffer.
The debut release by Flight Press is an anthology called Edgeways. Initially an e-book, the anthology brings together the winning and shortlisted writers of the 2013 Spread the Word writing competition for short fiction, which I judged alongside the writers Courttia Newland and Tania Hershman. In judging fiction I am always reminded that talent is not scarce but common, not precious but productive. It's waiting to be discovered and is richly deserving of a platform, publication, critical attention, readerly celebration and support from the wider industry.
I also think we judges made a good team. Courttia Newland's fiction is passionate, topical, fierce; he writes with urgency and grit. And Tania Hershman's short fiction makes me gasp with admiration, such is its intensity, bullseye imagery and technical precision. And I'm really good company over lunch. The winning story in the competition was Living It Edgeways by Claire Sita Fisher. We loved it for its upfront, fresh, mobile voice and impeccable creation of character. Without giving anything away, the story's narrated by a young guy whose humour and streety restlessness hide incredible perceptiveness, sorrow and vulnerability. At the same time, Fisher's story was cut through with brilliant and witty observations about city life, street slang and the effects of one particular incident on an entire family.
Edgeways the anthology has been edited by Courttia Newland, who's written a lovely introduction about the competition's shortlisted entries, explaining what we were looking for, where we agreed and where we politely diverged. Tania Hershman has also contributed a brilliant piece of her unutterably perfect short fiction. The competition entrants whose pieces made the shortlist are Claire Sita Fisher with her winning story, Nick Black, KJ Orr, Toby Litt, Deirdre Shanahan and Saradha Soobrayen.
I have contributed an essay called The Story Ritual, about the art and craft of the short story. I've also written a new story for the anthology, entitled The Comforting of Children. It's my first work of original fiction since Dust, in November 2011. The success of that story, which can be read here, reprinted by the University of Chichester, gave me the guts to write The Comforting of Children.
It gives me enormous pleasure to announce that I am returning to fiction. I can't think of a better way to do so than by being a small part of new anthologies whose originality make such a strong case for the enduring power and craft of fiction and the excellence, diversity and prevalence of new voices.
- All Bone and Muscle: an essay on short fiction written for the University of Chichester short story syllabus.
Edgeways is available now as an ebook, published by Flight Press and edited by Courttia Newland.