2018 Feature Writing Competition Shortlist

('Celebrate' © Samira, 2010)

The THRESHOLDS International Short Fiction Feature Writing Competition is now in its seventh year, celebrating the short story form.


There are whispers in the air again of a renaissance of the short story. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised; everyone’s excited by the news that 2017 saw short story collection sales rise by almost 50%.

But we say, phooey.

We’re inclined to agree with renowned short-story columnist Chris Power: this ‘renaissance’ is just a myth. He said it four years ago in a Thresholds article, and he’s saying it again now, in 2018, in an article published on the Guardian. Why does he keep saying it? Because this renaissance talk is getting the short story form nowhere:

By getting caught up in this recurring phantom narrative [] we spurn the opportunity to talk about short stories in a way that might actually deepen how they are understood and engaged with by readers.

Power is absolutely right. And it is this ‘opportunity’ that led Thresholds into existence almost eight years ago. We’re here to talk about short stories and deepen our understanding of them. Which is why we run our International Short Fiction Feature Writing Competition each year.

In the Competition, we ask you to celebrate the form by talking about the stories that leave an impact on you: how the writing captivates you, how the themes, the preoccupations, the narratives and the writing styles affect you as a reader, and often as a writer too. Year after year, you answer our request with writing on classic authors, showing the longevity of the popularity of the short story, and you introduce us to newer names who are keeping the momentum of the short story going strong. This year we’ve read vibrant essays with fresh perspectives on Katherine Mansfield, Raymond Carver, Breece D’J Pancake, Nadine Gordimer and Alice Munro. We’ve been given a theory on why Margaret Atwood might have contributed to an issue of Playboy in 1991, and have seen how Mary McCarthy changed literary culture. We’ve read about the ways dyslexia can aid a writer like Hemingway, how current science can influence fiction with the example of Leslie Beckmann, how two very different writers can interpret the same theme of monuments in society, and how authors like Sam Shepard explore the unconscious in their fiction.

Every year, in the seven years we’ve been running this international competition, we have seen real passion for the form coming through your essays. This year is no different. We have been astounded by the quality of writing, by the observations and the inventive approaches. And, as in years before, we have been delighted to see the global reach of our competition, with many entries coming from Australia and the US, as well as pieces from across Europe, Canada, India, Africa and New Zealand.

Maybe 2017 was a good year for short stories. Maybe 2018 will be even better. But from what we can see, the love for the form is as strong as it’s always been. The popularity is still there.

So let’s forget that ‘renaissance’ hyperbole and keep talking about short stories instead. Our 2018 shortlisted writers certainly are.

The 2018 Thresholds International Short Fiction
Feature Writing Competition Shortlist:

 Farah Ahamed
Kate Finegan
Peter Jordan
Nicole Mansour
Erinna Metler
Sam Reese

The winning and runner-up essays will be announced on Thresholds on 2nd May.


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