2016 International Feature Writing Competition Shortlist

photo crop © LoraxGirl, 2014


The THRESHOLDS International Feature Writing Competition is now in its fifth year – celebrating all that the short story form has to offer and awarding one deserving essayist the top prize of £500.

Since THRESHOLDS launched in September 2010, our mission has been to promote and celebrate the short story form, in reading, writing and study. Over the years, The Forum has grown far beyond expectation and we were certainly reminded of this when the 2016 Feature Competition entries began to roll in.

Whilst the UK always brings us a wealth of essays, this year even more entries poured in from the US, Canada, France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, India, Africa, Japan, Russia, and, I’m sure, many others that weren’t obviously clear in their authors’ correspondence. What a delight it is to know that we are reaching out across the globe, to writers, students, professors, teachers, editors and those who, quite simply, love reading short stories.

Our true pleasure comes, though, from the entries. It is clear to see that so many of our entrants have poured themselves into their essays – these aren’t just generic pieces they had lying around in drawer, waiting to see the light of day. They are carefully considered discussions; recommendations and profiles crafted lovingly and submitted to this competition alone. For that, we would like to thank each person who took the time to enter.

‘we would like to thank each person
who took the time to enter’

As we considered the entries, it was wonderful to come across short story writers we haven’t read before, but whose collections we’re sure to buy soon: Janice Pariat, Neil Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi and Lucy Corin, to name a few. At the same time, many of you chose to focus on highly familiar names, both classic and contemporary. Jorge Luis Borges was popular amongst several entrants, as was Roald Dahl – something to do with his centenary later this year, no doubt. Raymond Carver, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor, Rudyard Kipling, JG Ballard, Ali Smith, Alice Munro, Rose Tremain and Neil Gaiman all made appearances, some many times. Yet still you managed to find new ways to discuss their work with passion.

Funnily enough, short story recommendations and author profile pieces weren’t the only subjects that were covered in this year’s entries. A few authors submitted essays telling personal life stories, while others provided us with eye-opening political pieces. Although these writers clearly hadn’t paid attention to our competition rules, the writing, in several instances, was of a surprisingly good quality, so we wish them luck in other competitions!

‘creativity and insight
in equal measure’

It was a particular thrill this year to see – in the entries that were in line with the rules – a range of creative approaches to the brief. Several took the form of short stories themselves, exploring the works carefully whilst playing out their own narrative. At times, the discussion in these wasn’t as carefully balanced with the narrative idea as we would have hoped, but they were, nonetheless, entertaining in their own right. That said, a number of them succeeded – providing creativity and insight in equal measure – and two of the best of these narrative essays have made it into our shortlist. The remaining essays that make up the shortlist all delve deeply into their subject, yet the authors also captivate us with their writing style. It truly is a spectacular selection, which we look forward to publishing on The Forum.

As ever, our judging process is entirely anonymous, allowing equal opportunity for every entrant, no matter what their publishing history. Because of the anonymity, it’s always a surprise, and a joy, to find names that are familiar to us when both the longlist and shortlist are revealed. Several of the writers on the longlist this year have previously contributed to THRESHOLDS – in fact, Nicole Mansour’s feature on Donald Antrim will be published this Monday. And while Dan Powell adds an impressive fourth appearance amongst our finalists, many other names on the longlist are entirely new to us and we’re excited to see that more and more writers are engaging with, and hopefully enjoying, all that we offer here at THRESHOLDS.

For the first time in THRESHOLDS’ competition
history we are delighted to be offering prizes
to all of our shortlisted writers.

Some of the best independent publishers of short fiction in the UK today have contributed books and writing prompts, so, as well as their cash prizes, our winner and two runners-up will each receive two titles from the selection, plus a Writing Map. The remaining shortlisted writers will all receive a whopping stack of nine short story titles, plus two Writing Maps. A big thank you from all of us here at THRESHOLDS goes out to our generous friends at The Bath Short Story Award, the Bridport Prize, Comma Press, Daunt Books, Salt Publishing, Unthank Books, and Writing Maps with Treehouse Press. You can find the full list of book titles on the 2016 Competition post.

And so, to draw an end to the suspense, we are pleased to present the six shortlisted writers for the 2016 THRESHOLDS International Short Fiction Feature Writing Award…

Congratulations to the 2016 Shortlist:

Susmita Bhattacharya: Stories of the Magical and the Real

Alex Coulton: The Iron Which Pierces The Heart

Tyler Miller: The Radical Horror and Loneliness of The Martian Chronicles

Mary O’Donnell: An Epiphany in the Company of Alice Munro

Jonathan Pinnock: ‘Funes, His Memory’/’The library of Babel’ by Jorge Luis Borges

Dan Powell: Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You?


The overall winner of £500 and two runners-up (receiving £100 each) will be announced, here on THRESHOLDS, on Friday 8th April.

Once again, we would like to congratulate the remaining writers who were longlisted in the Competition. Narrowing down this spectacular list was a hard task indeed, and we hope to be able to publish each longlisted feature on THRESHOLDS in the coming months.


David Butler: “Dance, old scarecrow,” she said, “while I dancing with you.” An Appreciation of ‘A Worn Path’ by Eudora Welty

Gina Challen: The Tales of a Traveller: Red Dog by Louis de Bernières

Tracy Fells: The Golden Contract

Eleanor Fitzsimons: Georgre Egerton: Writing a ‘Topsy-Turvey’ World

Sophia Kier-Byfield: Subjective Apocalypse in Lucy Corin’s One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses

Nicole Mansour: Beyond a Barren Landscape: Elizabeth Harrower’s A Few Days in the Country

Stephanie Williamson: The Women History Cast Aside

Sue Wilsea: A Spinning Wheel of Light: Remember, Remember! Winifred Holtby Short Stories

Scott Wilson: How to Kill a Man: Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s ‘In a Bamboo Grove’

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