2015 International Feature Writing Competition Shortlist

photo © bass_nroll, 2014


Now in its fourth year, the THRESHOLDS International Feature Writing Competition celebrates the art of the short story form and awards one deserving essayist the top prize of £500.

Every year we run the Competition, we wonder if it will still be as popular as it has been in previous times. There’s always a slight feeling of unease, as we wait for the entries to come in. But come in they do, usually in a torrent in the last twenty-four hours before the deadline. And every year we are startled, and honoured, not just by the quantity of entries we receive, but also by the standard of writing.

We would like to send out our warm and hearty thanks to all who took the time to enter the 2015 THRESHOLDS International Short Fiction Feature Writing Competition. It really is a privilege to read every entry and it’s clear that each author shares our love of, and appreciation for, the short story form. That’s what THRESHOLDS is all about.

It really is a privilege to read every entry
and it’s clear that each author shares our love of,
and appreciation for, the short story form…

Feature essays are hard to get right. They need to be inherently entertaining, as well as factually accurate, coherent, and focussed on the subject at hand. We call for essays in one of two categories – We Recommend and Author Profiles – and, so long as the short story form is at the heart of the discussion, we really are open to every approach you can throw at us. That’s why it’s wonderful to see writers experimenting with style and format.

Although our longlist has to be limited to just a handful of pieces, there were many other features that we debated over, which were close to being included. One, with a dry sense of humour, challenged our preconceptions of writing competitions. Another essay explored the timelessness of the Jeeves and Wooster stories. One debated the merits of flash as a form. And a fourth reminisced over a taught text from the writer’s school days, which is once again in print, ‘brought back by popular demand’ so the deliberately worn-looking cover exclaims.

We saw essays on the classics – Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, Arthur Morrison – that all offered inspiring perspectives on these well-loved authors’ words. We read about contemporary writers and were introduced to some fresh, new stories too – Colin Barrett, George Saunders, Karen Russell, A.J. Ashworth, amongst others. And we learnt of authors from all over the world – from the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Bulgaria, Australia, India and more.

Over half of the features on our shortlist
made a personal connection with the writing…

The feature essays that made it onto our longlist were certainly well written. They all carefully balanced comment with discussion, used extracts to illustrate the writing being discussed, had a strong focus throughout and, tonally, they were all full of personality. But they also had something more. Year after year, the essays that most entertain us often tackle the subject from an unusual angle. Over half of the features on our shortlist – which is announced below – made a personal connection with the writing, the writers revealing something of themselves as they deftly discussed the stories and authors; at least one of these pieces was almost as rich and vivid as a short story itself. One of the judges said these essays ‘are windows looking in two directions’, providing us with a truly engaging read from all angles. The other shortlisted essays took a more objective view. These pieces stood out for their bold, captivating tone and a unique choice of subject matter – both honed in on a particular aspect of short story writing.

It’s important to mention, I think, that this year’s longlist saw one author’s name appear twice, that of Stephen Devereux. Because we judge every submission entirely anonymously – each essay is simply given a reference number as it arrives in our inbox and is stored away until the deadline, when judging can commence – this feat really shows the strength of Stephen’s writing. He has, in fact, now made it into our shortlists over three consecutive years, each time anonymously and each time taking a different approach to the brief, no two essays ever feel the same. In this year’s shortlist, alongside Stephen, we see two other writers who have been listed in the past – one of whom, Dan Powell, was a runner-up last year – as well as three new names to join the drove. Each of the shortlisted feature essays will be published on the forum in the coming weeks and, believe us when we say, you’ll be in for a treat. The overall winner and runners-up will be announced, here on THRESHOLDS, on Monday 8th June.

Congratulations to the 2015 THRESHOLDS
Short Fiction
Feature Writing Competition Shortlist


Susmita Bhattacharya: ‘From One’s Own Perspective’

Richard Buxton: ‘Tim Gautreaux’s Waiting For The Evening News

Stephen Devereux: ‘Coming Out in Print: Tennessee Williams’

Victoria Leslie: ‘Cast in Stone – A. S. Byatt’s Metamorphic Woman’

Richard Newton: ‘The Laureate of the Veld’

Dan Powell: ‘Nothing is the way it used to be, yet everything is like before’



Stephen Devereux: The North-South Divide and the Complexity of Love

Claire Savage: Retreating into Writing

Alan McMonagle: Unpacking Sergei Dovlatov’s Suitcase

Erinna Mettler: Olive Kitteridge: A Novel in Stories

Peter Jordan: Hemingway’s ‘Up in Michigan’


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