Saboteur Awards 2017: Spotlight on the Short Story Collection Shortlist

From zombies to boys with fox-tails, there’s something for everyone in this year’s shortlist of Short Story Collections. Remember to vote before 30th April!

Attrib. and other stories by Eley Williams (Influx Press) 

Completely delighted—and looking forward to reading and re-reading the shortlisted and longlisted titles in this category. – Eley Williams

A reader of the collection generously described some of the stories in this way: ‘Those universes that form and dissolve within five seconds of idle thought? That’s Attrib.’ That is something I have tried to achieve, I suppose—stories that mark or address the tender, queer, baffled, unspooling chaos that can occur within a fleeting thought. Also, hedgehogs and swimming pools.

Support Influx’s Kickstarter here.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Images that live with you, and a way if seeing that sits like a contact lens on your eye afterwards
  • genuinely exciting work from an increasingly important small publisher
  • Entirely original and unexpected, like a view of the world through a shattered stained glass window.

Chump by Duncan P Bradshaw (EyeCue)

This came completely out of the blue, it’s rather nifty to have my book shortlisted for this award. I’m looking forward to reading my way through the competition. -Duncan P. Bradshaw


“Chump would never have existed were it not for Ed Thurlow, and the annual Festival of Zombie Culture. Having being invited back as a guest for a second year, I wanted to bring something new, so decided to come up with some different takes on the zombie genre. Part comedy, part horror, I tried to make each story unique, and focus on things which had not been done before.

I think Chump encapsulates my writing, making people laugh one minute and shudder the next, even if you’re not a fan of zombies, there should still be something to entertain you.”

Find out more about Duncan here.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Tangential thinking that goes somewhere.
  • The most unique collection of zombie tales I have ever read.
  • I loved the different styles to each story, some were firmly tongue in cheek, whilst others were really rather gory.

High City Walk by Adam Craig (Cinnamon Press) 

This is extraordinary — a massive surprise and a wonderful endorsement for the book. -Adam Craig

Bending genre and style, these stories are as much about character and emotion as they are about the Fantastic and the Surreal — hopeful and tragic by turns, they follow people through profound grief and tragedy, through crises internal and external, and on journeys both physical and spiritual. Almost ten years in the making, this collection is amongst the best things I’ve written.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Because these stories sing off the page – sometimes strange, sometimes poignant, they range across Europe performing alchemy on readers as they go
  • The collection made me work harder than usual, thereby kind of implying me in the work and making the stories indelible
  • All human emotions are covered in this exceptional collection of short stories. Each one beautifully crafted. The stories vary, some make you smile but some make you question what it is to be human. A brilliant, thought provoking collection that deserves to win.

Speak Gigantular by Irenosen Okojie (Jacaranda Books)

Really pleased to be shortlisted with such a great group of writers. It’s wonderful to see short story collections being celebrated -Irenosen Okojie

Irenosen Okojie is a writer and Arts Project Manager. Her debut novel, Butterfly Fish won a Betty Trask award. Her work has been featured in The Observer,The Guardian, the BBC and the Huffington Post amongst other publications. Her short stories have been published internationally. She was presented at the London Short Story Festival by Ben Okri as a dynamic writing talent to watch and was featured in the Evening Standard Magazine as one of London’s exciting new authors. Her short story collection Speak Gigantular published by Jacaranda Books was shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize and is longlisted for the Edgehill Short Story Prize.  Speak Gigantular is a collection of darkly magical modern fables with a twist. The stories are weird, vivid, surreal and macabre vignettes of life in the city. They are stories about being human, how it feels to operate on the fringes and how we can realign ourselves even in the bleakest of moments.

Find out more about Irenosen here.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Okojie is a spectacular writer; she writes from multiple viewpoints with equal ease, whether it be a gnome in captivity, a disappointed lover in Lisbon, or a waitress being kidnapped by an alien. “Nadine” and “Animal Parts” are two of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever read, and as for the closer, “Vegas”…my goodness. This is as startling and accomplished a range of narratives as I have seen since David Mitchell’s “Ghostwritten”.
  • Such a beautifully twisted magical realism. Her unique voice and point of view is stunning.

Wild Gestures by Lucy Durneen (MidnightSun Publishing) 

The night before the Saboteur shortlists were announced I’d made the inadvisable decision to remove my living room carpet and strip the floors. I was staring at the destruction when I got the email. Guess what? I yelled at my son. I got shortlisted for an award! He surveyed now carpet-less living room and its various abandoned booktowers. What – for your interior-designing? he replied. Such pathos. I did the happy dance anyway, narrowly avoiding splinters. That’s a long winded way of saying: I’m absolutely thrilled and amazed to be on this shortlist – and so, so grateful to both those who nominated me the Saboteur Awards for celebrating short stories and small presses. -Lucy Durneen

A daughter flies into a painting to escape her overprotective mother. An exchange student sees green lights in the sky above South America and fears the worst. Against the backdrop of an Italian bird market, a holidaying teenager makes her first attempt at seduction. And an affair that never happens is deconstructed while tigers pace in a European zoo.

Wild Gestures is the first collection from British writer Lucy Durneen, bringing together stories of loss, desire and opportunities missed, all orbiting the painful knowledge that the things we most long for remain the furthest from reach.

Lucy Durneen is a writer, editor, lecturer, and cake enthusiast, based in the South West of England. Her poetry and other stories have appeared in journals such as the Stockholm Review of Literature, The Letters Page, and Poetry Ireland Review, while her creative non-fiction has been published in World Literature Today, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and adapted for broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Wild Gestures is her first collection.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Consistently brilliant and unfailingly humane. Truly world literature deserving of a worldwide audience.
  • The detail this writer goes into is incredible – and there are so many intricate layers to each story. You are often left wondering as each story ends; you draw your own conclusion. Very thought provoking.
  • Because this is one off the most exquisite short story collections ever published. It is funny, sad, tender, cheeky, insightful and so, so clever. Lucy Durneen may be a new star in the literature hall-of-fame but she is certainly there to stay.