Saboteur Awards: Best Novella

This month, we will showcase each of the works shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards by category. We’re starting with novellas, giving you a glimpse into each work. If you’d like to have your say in the awards, don’t forget to vote!

Chloe Caldwell, Women (SF/LD Books)

“So excited and honored to be nominated—I wish I could go celebrate in London!” – Chloe Cadwell

WOMEN - Chloe Caldwell

Chloe Caldwell is the author of the essay collection LEGS GET LED ASTRAY and the novella WOMEN. Her work has appeared in VICE,, The Rumpus, xoJane, Nylon, The Sun, and the anthologies Goodbye To All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving NYC, True Tales of Lust and Love, Girls?, 30 Shades of Blue, and Days Like This. She lives in Hudson, New York.

Women is an account of a torrid relationship between two women, nineteen years apart. The novella about falling in love with a woman, about loving women, about being a woman. It is a novella about a mother and a daughter. A novella about female friendships that blur the line of romance. A novella about a woman who, after having her first sexual relationship with a woman, goes on a series of (comical) OK Cupid dates with other women. A novella about a woman in her twenties who doesn’t know if she’s gay or straight or bi. A novella about falling in love and having your heart broken and figuring out what to do next. The book is an urgent recall of heartbreak, of a stark identity in crisis.

What voters have been saying: 

It’s emotionally raw and beautifully written

All female characters, brutal, but beautiful narrative. Voice of our time.

Chloe Caldwell is one of the fiercest, bravest, most compelling writers we have

Heidi James, The Mesmerist’s Daughter (Neon Magazine)

‘I’m chuffed to hear I’ve made the Saboteur shortlist! Who wouldn’t be? It’s a great shortlist too, so I feel really honoured to be included.’ – Heidi James


Heidi James’ novella The Mesmerist’s Daughter – published on Monday 27th April 2015 – is the hypnotic tale of a child with a wold for a mother. The narrative of this haunting story hovers somewhere between memory and delusion, as a woman closeted in a psychiatric facility recounts the tail of a particularly difficult time in her childhood. James’ writing is highly-detailed and immediate, each page bursting with details so fresh that they’re almost tangible. From the opening sentence The Mesmerist’s Daughter is as unsettling as it is magical, as arresting as it is darkly evocative. Heidi James’ novel Wounding was published in April last year by Bluemoose Books. Her poetry has been published in various magazines and anthologies including Neon and Lung Jazz, an anthology for Oxfam. She was the runner up for the Cinnamon Poetry Collection Prize.

What voters have been saying:

James’ writing has a magical, hard-edged brilliance. Everyone should know and enjoy this story.

Neon have been quietly impressive for several years now, and they’ve published a fantastic novella here.

A superb peice of prose – an elegantly crafted exploration of the grostesque and femininity. Haunting and illuminating.

Evangeline Jennings, No Christmas (Pankhearst)

I’m bewitched, bothered, and bewildered, and I’d like to thank both my readers for thinking of me. – Evangeline Jennings


Scratch any Theocrat, and you’ll find a Fascist. No Christmas is my punk rock Handmaid’s Tale. It plays games with Dickens, the Shangri-Las, and matches. Abigail Torres can never go home anymore.

What voters have been saying:

Outstanding use of language

Evangeline deserves way more recognition than she gets!

Damaged and damned brilliant, giving voice to the often voiceless

u.v. ray, The Migrant (Murder Slim Press)

Making the shortlist came as a complete, though pleasant, surprise. I had no idea The Migrant had even been nominated and only found out two days before the shortlist was announced. I’m hugely flattered. – u.v. ray



The Migrant, like most of my work, is 80% autobiographical and was written machine gun style over a period of about 4 weeks, the final product being pretty much the first draft with only some minor tidying up. My work has been skirting the fringes of the literary scene for twenty-five years and has drawn frequent comparisons to Albert Camus, which frankly astounds me because I dropped out of school without any qualifications and lack his intellectual clout.

What voters have been saying:

UV Ray’s work is always hardknuckle, unsparing, brave and laced with pathos and truth. He’s one of the more vivd voices shouting from the sidelines today.

Because I love it when an underdog who actually has talent wins.

U.V. Ray writes with a visceral aggression, yet despite it’s intentionally rough notes, it speaks to a universality in us all with glimpses of beauty, bigotry and life.

Aliya Whiteley, The Beauty (Unsung Stories)

I’m delighted that The Beauty has made the shortlist for the Best Novella, not least of all because it means people have been out there reading it and thinking about it; what a great boost that is for a writer. Many thanks to all who have voted. – Aliya Whiteley


Somewhere away from the cities and towns, a group of men and boys gather around the fire each night to listen to their stories in the Valley of the Rocks. For when the women are all gone the rest of your life is all there is for everyone. The men are waiting to pass into the night. What can man hope to achieve in a world without women? When the past is only grief how long should you hold on to it? What secrets can the forest offer to change it all?

What voters have been saying:

Love Aliya’s work, the taboos she breaks and the myths she creates.

It’s based on a most unusual and intriguing idea and has depths to it which cleverly reflect aspects of human nature, so should appeal to a wide range of readers.

Disturbingly brillant portrait of a post-woman world that delves deep into the male and group psyche. A marvellously crafted novella that has not one misplaced or superflous word in it.