Caleb Azumah Nelson. Photo/Esme Allman

Caleb Azumah Nelson on BBC National Short Story Award 2020 shortlist.

Caleb Azumah Nelson is on the shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award 2020 with Cambridge University announced on September 11, 2020.

The BBC National Short Story Award with Cambridge University is a British literary award for short stories founded by the UK NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) with support from BBC Radio 4 and Prospect magazine in 2005. The award was originally known as ‘National Short Story Award’ and renamed to ‘BBC’ starting in 2008 to reflect the current sponsor. Previous winners have been Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel and Jon McGregor.

The judges for 2020 are award-winning journalist, novelist and broadcaster Jonathan Freedland (Chair) whose panel includes Commonwealth Prize winner Lucy Caldwell, who was shortlisted for both the 2012 and 2019 BBC NSSA; British-Nigerian writer Irenosen Okojie, a Betty Trask and Caine Prize winner; Edge Hill Prize shortlistee and Guardian short story columnist Chris Power; and returning judge Di Speirs, Books Editor at BBC Radio.

The shortlist this panel has announced has the following writers;

  • Pray by Caleb Azumah Nelson
  • In The Car With the Rain Coming Down by Jan Carson
  • The Grotesques by Sarah Hall
  • Come Down Heavy by Jack Houston
  • Scrimshaw by Eley Williams

Caleb Azumah Nelson is a 26-year-old British-Ghanaian writer and photographer living in South East London. ‘Pray’ is a ‘vibrant, invigorating and agile’ story set over a summer in South East London. Charged with ‘wit, anger, affection and sorrow’, the story shows the reality for young black men navigating a world that ‘wasn’t built with us in mind’. With characters and dialogue so alive they reach out from the page, ‘Pray’ explores fear, injustice, masculinity, race and the origins of violence.

The winner, who receives £15,000, will be announced on October 6, 2020.



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