2013 International Feature Writing Competition Shortlist

photo by r.kirby

Launched in 2012, the THRESHOLDS International Feature Writing Competition celebrates the reading, writing, study – and pleasures – of the short story form.

In our search for the best ‘short story feature’ writing from around the world, we asked for essays that explored either a single short story or a collection of stories, and for essays that delved into the life and works of a single short story author. Entrants were asked to meet our ‘Thresholdian’ guidelines for our regular ‘We Recommend’ and ‘Author Profile’ categories, but they were offered a more generous maximum word-count. Once we could confirm that the guidelines were ‘ticked’, we wanted only to be surprised, informed, drawn in, and perhaps even touched or charmed in some ineffable way. A tall order?

This year’s response was tremendous, with entries arriving from all over the UK and Europe – including Scandinavia, Spain, France and Austria – and from as far away as the United States, India and Australia.

The team of five judges felt the strength of the submissions was remarkable, and it has been an absolute pleasure to read through the entries – to see the time and effort that has gone into each one, specifically for this competition. We’re very grateful to each entrant, and we’re honoured to see the quality of material that the Competition has inspired. Somewhat unpredictably, the number of entries we received for the ‘We Recommend’ category far outweighed the ‘Author Profile’ entries, and for that reason we have made the decision to award a £500 prize to one overall winner, and a £100 prize to one overall runner-up.

Drawing up the longlist from all the entries was not easy. Narrowing it down to six shortlisted pieces was harder still. The features explored the works of classic names such as H. E. Bates, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allan Poe, as well as more contemporary stories from authors like Adam Marek, Michèle Roberts and Jackie Kay. They came in an array of styles – from an essay written from a second-person viewpoint, in the style of the writer discussed, to an entrant who claimed they preferred not to read short stories at all. And amongst the entries were features about writers some of us had never come across before, or who had somehow languished, for no good reason, on our bookshelves. Stig Dagerman, Tim Winton and Paul Auster have all been added to my personal reading list with a ‘must-read’ asterisk beside their names. For me, this is one of the delights of the Competition, and of THRESHOLDS as a whole: the prospect of discovering stories that may not have come to one’s attention otherwise. With all this wonderful material, judging certainly wasn’t an easy task, and there were many more entries we would have liked to have included in the lists had we had the space.

Now, though, I would like to pass on our congratulations to the 2013 THRESHOLDS Feature Writing Competition Shortlist. It’s full of vibrant, challenging and insightful essays, which we look forward to publishing over the coming months.

The overall winner of the £500 prize, and the runner-up, will be announced on Friday 26th April.



Anna Arbiter: No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

Carys Bray: We Recommend Adam Marek

Stephen Devereux: The Fall of the British Empire – Saki’s ‘The Lumber Room’

Nuala Ní Chonchúir: A Trio of Irish Short Stories

Dan Powell: Stig Dagerman’s The Games of Night

Tom Vowler: Touch by Graham Mort



Julia Anderson: ‘The Orphan and the Mob’ by Julian Gough

Jason Clifton: Storm Warnings in a Purple Haze: Robert Stone’s Bear and his Daughter

Stephen Devereux: Whistle– If You Dare! An exploration of M. R. James’s ‘Oh Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad’

Hugh Fulham-McQuillan: Julio Cortázar

Tracy Maylath: How to Read Lorrie Moore

Mike Smith: ‘The Little Farm’ by H.E.Bates

Juliet West: ‘Miriam’ by Truman Capote


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