Fiction Round-Up 2013

-Compiled by Richard T. Watson

We have a Christmas tradition of sorts at Sabotage: to post a festive round-up of the year’s highlights in December, and to start by (mis)quoting that carol about it being the season to be jolly. And what is Christmas without its twee traditions? So here goes, 365 days from the last time I posted such a thing.

‘Tis the season for looking back fondly on what has passed, and excitedly ahead at what’s to come. Here’s this year’s Published Poetry version. So in festive spirit here are some of the highlights from Sabotage’s Fiction stable in 2013, in no particular order.

The Dalkey Archives Press’ collection Best European Fiction 2014 is just one of several examples of texts-in-translation that we’ve reviewed this year, and represents part of a movement to bring foreign-language authors to a wider Anglophone audience. See also the various novella from Peirene Press, which between them cover a range of European experiences.

On the more formally experimental side, we’ve had publications like Superbard’s The Flood, Dan Holloway’s Evie & Guy, and Tom Wingfield’s Anytime Return. The Flood is an iPad-specific short story collection with music and video as well as an associated live mulitmedia performance by Superbard himself (with a little audience participation!). Holloway’s Evie & Guy is an artistic experiment influenced by Holloway’s interest in modern visual art (the likes of Emin and Hirst), and is perhaps as interesting for the debate it sparks as for the work itself: a novella written entirely in numbers. Wingfield’s Tactile Publications has produced an unusual format for his Anytime Return, which mirrors the story’s protagonist by having the reader double back on themselves halfway through, but also spreads the prose around the page to look more like poetry and lend extra weight to an otherwise sparse story.

This has been a year with a lot of short story collections under review, not least the strong field put forward for this year’s Saboteur Awards. We also reviewed, among others, a smattering of collections from Arachne Press and their collaborators the Liars’ League – actors who read the short stories, which Arachne then publish in themed collections. There were collections from big names like Salt (Carys Bray’s Sweet Home being a personal highlight) and much smaller lights, such as Hannah Stevens’ Without Makeup Crystal Clear Publishers and Jonathan Taylor’s Kontakt and other stories from Roman Books, or Indigo Dreams with Alison Lock’s Above the Parapet and Catherine McNamara’s Pelt and other stories (which maintained that earlier international theme). Then there were Sabotage regulars Unthank Books, nominated for the Most Innovative Publisher Saboteur Award, and publishing not only their fourth Unthology but also Ashley Stokes’ Syllabus of Errors and Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontes.

And of course, many more.

2013 was a big year for Sabotage: your third birthday is always the most memorable, I think, and ours saw us throw our first ever birthday party with awards and live music and everything. Our Saboteur Awards were bigger than in previous years and look to be going from strength to strength. Not only that, but we launched this sexy new website and it feels like we’ve finally graduated from short trousers. Fingers crossed that 2014 and the next Awards will be even better!

This is also my annual opportunity to thank the writers and publishers of the indie literature scene for continuing to fuel our reviewing machine with their words, ink and souls. I’d also like to thank our ever-changing but dedicated team of reviewers who keep the site fed with new copy every week. Thanks, guys! If you’re interested in joining them and getting your hands on some of the short stories, novella and occasional uncategorised literary endeavour that we have on offer, get in touch! You can reach me at fiction [at], and the other editors’ details are on the Staff page.

Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.