On the day Dan Brown’s new novel dominates the books blogs – and the financial concerns of booksellers the world over – you wouldn’t blame the humble short story writer for having spent the past 10 hours with their head hung over a frequently refilled brandy glass, bemoaning their supposed drawing of the literary short straw when it comes to opportunities of making a mint.
News of The Sunday Times' award is yet to reach Russia's short story authors
But, dear Bind reader, the short story writer doesn’t need your pity. Oh no, in fact, the short story writer has tossed the brandy glass, turned on their heels and left your compassionate countenance in the dust in their dash for what is being touted as the world’s richest prize for an individual short story.
Short fiction's Fairy Godmother: Lynn Barber
The Sunday Times‘ literary editor Andrew Holgate, and writers Lynn Barber, A S Byatt, Nick Hornby and Hanif Kureishi are the fairy godparents who will bestow this prize, the Sunday Times/EFG Private Bank Short Story Award. But who cares what it’s called?! Not the potential entrants, I’d wager, who are more fussed about the fact that, come March 2010, when the winner is announced at the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, they could be £25k richer. And five runners up will receive £500 each. Which they will probably spend on brandy and Dan Brown books with which to fuel both their stoves and their all-consuming bitterness.
The award is open to authors to have been published in the UK and Ireland, with the winning stories will be published in The Sunday Times Magazine and online with additional podcasts/audio download. Tell your friends! The Bind, meanwhile, is off to learn about sustainable fish farms from Hugh.
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Photo: Steve Forrest/Rex Features
Britain’s best-loved bookish eccentric, techy Twitterer and fantasy uncle (imagine the Christmas party games!) Stephen Fry has long worn his Oscar Wilde-loving heart on his sleeve. Brian Gilbert’s 1997 film Wilde saw Fry cast as the exuberant author, and recently he noted the formative influence of Wilde’s work in his navigating that pot-hole riddled road between awkward adolescence and a more assured adulthood relatively unbruised.
In 1973, a 16-year-old Stephen Fry penned a letter to his middle-aged self (published in 1997’s autobiography Moab is my Washpot) and in response to his teenage self Fry recently wrote, via The Guardian:
“I know what you are doing now, young Stephen. It’s early 1973. You are in the library, cross-referencing bibliographies so that you can find more and more examples of queer people in history, art and literature against whom you can hope to validate yourself. Leonardo, Tchaikovsky, Wilde, Barons Corvo and von Gloeden… So many great spirits really do confirm that hope! It emboldens you to know that such a number of brilliant (if often doomed) souls shared the same impulse and desires as you.”
And now Fry’s calling the rest of us over to the Wilde side with him, having just selected his favourite Oscar Wilde stories for a new collection acquired by Harper Collins. The collection’s as yet untitled, but The Bind gathers that it’s due to be published in October, in hardback (yum) and in addition to 33 mouth-watering illustrations by Nicole Stewart. Fry will also be penning a general introduction to the collection, and foreword to each of the stories.
Oh, and as if we needed any more reason to launch efforts to trace our lineage to the Fry family tree, today saw the kick-off of the second series of Fry’s English Delight on Radio 4. The programme title? ‘So Wrong it’s Right’. In reference to my level of excitability over your new show, Stephen, how very correct you are.
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