It’s great to see short stories as a genre go from strength to strength with a stellar line up for the Sunday Times annual short story award. Among the longlist are Elizabeth Strout who won the Pulitzer Prize for the wonderful Olive Kitteridge, Marjorie Celona, whose debut novel Y, won several awards, and M J Hyland, who was shortlisted for the Man Booker. Previous winners of award, which carries a prize of £30,000, making it the world’s prize for a short story, include Junot Diaz, Hilary Mantel, Mark Haddon and CK Stead.
The shortlist will be announced on March 2, with the winner revealed in early April. All six shortlisted stories will be available on an ebook from March 2. The full line-up is listed below or go to thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/public/stefg. (artwork by Sturt Krygsman)
For the first time I kept a list of the books I read during past year and looking back over the months, 2013 was a rich year for literary pleasure. In total I read 76 books. That averaged out at about six books a month I only managed three in June yet nine in May (that’s the luxury of holidays). Apart from reading all the books on the Booker Prize shortlist there was no particular rhyme or reason to my selections. Sometimes I would just see a book in a book shop, other times it was the book selected by my book club. Sometimes it was a review or a news item in a newspaper or magazine or because an author was appearing at a literary festival I was attending (Dublin, Hay-on-Wye in England and Byron Bay in Australia).
Despite all that, I when I read other people’s end-of-year Best Of book lists I was stunned at the number I had not even heard of let alone all those wonderful authors whose books are sitting on my bedside table or in my e-reader but which I haven’t got around to reading yet. I did live up to the promise I made myself to read more collections of short stories and was richly rewarded. I read a pathetically small number of non-fiction which I hope to remedy in 2014. There were one or two which, if it were not for the “I’ve started so I’ll finish” rule, would have immediately been relegated to the bottom of the book pile but thus is the delicious serendipity of reading.
So, before the clock ticks over to a new day and new year, here is my top ten for 2013
It’s a silly title for a book. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. Or rather, it did. Although highly recommended, I put off reading Y, the debut novel by Marjorie Celona, because of that title. It smacked of gimmickry. The first page didn’t really help much either. That was pretty silly…