2017 International Feature Writing Competition Shortlist

('Competition' © mi..chael, 2011)


The THRESHOLDS International Short Fiction Feature Writing Competition is now in its sixth year, celebrating the reading, writing, study – and pleasure – of the short story form.


To begin our search for the very best short-story feature writing from around the world, we put out a call for essays in two categories: We Recommend and Author Profiles. We look for essays that explore short works of fiction, whether a single story or a full collection, and that delve into the writing life of a short story author. Our call is open to writers around the world, and we’ve received entries from across Europe – the UK, of course, but also France, Denmark, Scandinavia, Poland – and far further afield too, including the US, Canada, Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia. It is warming to know that THRESHOLDS reaches so far, year after year. While we have a set of guidelines for all to adhere – including writing in English – we always hope, once these criteria are met, that we will be surprised by the entries: stunned by the prose; wowed by the content. And this year the judges certainly were not disappointed.

When Jorges Luis Borges, D H. Lawrence, Franz Kafka and Katherine Mansfield are recommended alongside Scotland’s lesser-known Vivien Jones, Nigerian activist Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa, or Maori writer Witi Ihimaera it is heartening – we are treated to fresh views of the short story authors we all know and admire, yet are also introduced to so many writers we have never heard of, or have not yet had chance to read. Yuri Buida, Jennifer Egan and Daniel Woodrell have all been added to my own personal reading list. The array of approaches to the brief was wonderfully surprising too – from an essay that opens with a list of key characters, starting with the ‘dead priest’, to one that provides a list of ‘principals’ describing the perfect short story; from one that challenges the concept of a novel, to another that hails a classic author the godfather of science fiction. To say that we were entertained as we read is an understatement and it is this that makes judging the competition a real pleasure for all involved. The care and attention that goes into these submissions is clear, each year. And each year it gets harder to narrow the entries down to a longlist.

Yet, here we are: the longlist announced just one week ago and now a shortlist at our fingertips. Each of the shortlisted writers detailed below will receive a prize, whether the grand one of £500, one of two £100 runner-up prizes, or one of three stacks of short story books. These titles include Alison MacLeod’s highly praised, brand new collection, All the Beloved Ghosts, gifted by Bloomsbury Books; The Book of Dhaka given by Comma Press, part of their ‘City in Short Fiction’ series; Unthology 5 and Unthology 6, both from Unthank Books. Our thanks go out to our supporters at these tremendous publishing houses, all of whom continue to avidly support the short story form.

And so, it brings me great pleasure to pass on our hearty congratulations to the 2017 THRESHOLDS Feature Writing Competition Shortlist, wherever they may be based in the world. These entries are full of energetic prose, insightful wisdom and, most importantly, challenging ideas, and we hugely look forward to publishing them over the coming weeks…


Cathy Sweeney: storyteller, liar, dreamer

Jessica Whyte: Miss Brill’s Lament

Morgan Omotoye: Don’t You?

Richard Newton: Cormac McCarthy, Whether He Likes it or Not

Sean Baker: Beings Charged with Violence

Tyler Miller: Did Borges Write the Sci-fi Masterpiece of the 20th Century?


The overall winner of £500 and two runners-up (receiving £100 each) will be announced, here on THRESHOLDS, on Friday 7th 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.


Anton Dechand: Life as a Parable: Franz Kafka’s ‘The Great Wall of China’

Charles E. May: KJ Orr’s ‘Disappearances’: Probable Principles for How the Short Story Works

Diana Cambridge: Author Profile – Sue Kaufman

Elizabeth Edelglass: Stories from the Desert that Speak to the World

Hannah Brockbank: Chalk Mother

Judith George: With Varying Degrees of Reluctance

Karen Wrigglesworth: ‘The Maketu on Mrs Jones’ and all that

K. S. Dearsley: Blurred Boundaries: D. H. Lawrence’s ‘The Prussian Officer’

Michael Caines: Brigid Brophy in Elysium

Mike Smith: Blown Away – by ‘Sorting Office’, by Vivien Jones

Stanley Ikechukwu Echebiri: Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa: An Accomplished Writer Before Environmentalist

Victoria Leslie: Old Water, New Waves: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Feminist Fantasy











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