The BBC National Short Story Award 2014

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Short story writers often say that, for maximum dramatic effect, you should arrive fashionably late to a scene. After years of living in the literary wilderness, it seems the short story’s own moment has finally arrived. The last twelve months have marked an extraordinary year for the form. The Nobel Prize for Literature, the Man Booker International Prize, the Folio Prize and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize were all awarded to short story writers.

The shortlist for the BBC National Short Story Award 2014 captures the spirit of this mood and the short story’s knack for cutting straight to the action, the all-important moment of change. The five stories on this year’s shortlist were chosen by a panel of judges that included: poet and novelist Adam Foulds; author, illustrator and performer Laura Dockrill; editor Philip Gwyn Jones; BBC Editor of Books Di Speirs; and the broadcaster Alan Yentob, who chaired the panel and introduces this collection.

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Publisher
Comma Press
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Published on
17 Sep 2014
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Pages
116
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
Fiction / Short Stories (single author)
Literary Collections / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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“With each new book by Tessa Hadley, I grow more convinced that she’s one of the greatest stylists alive.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post

New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice |A Parnassus First Editions Club Pick | Powell’s Indispensable Book Club Pick

The lives of two close-knit couples are irrevocably changed by an untimely death in the latest from Tessa Hadley, the acclaimed novelist and short story master who “recruits admirers with each book” (Hilary Mantel).

Alexandr and Christine and Zachary and Lydia have been friends since they first met in their twenties. Thirty years later, Alex and Christine are spending a leisurely summer’s evening at home when they receive a call from a distraught Lydia: she is at the hospital. Zach is dead.

In the wake of this profound loss, the three friends find themselves unmoored; all agree that Zach, with his generous, grounded spirit, was the irreplaceable one they couldn’t afford to lose. Inconsolable, Lydia moves in with Alex and Christine. But instead of loss bringing them closer, the three of them find over the following months that it warps their relationships, as old entanglements and grievances rise from the past, and love and sorrow give way to anger and bitterness.

Late in the Day explores the complex webs at the center of our most intimate relationships, to expose how, beneath the seemingly dependable arrangements we make for our lives, lie infinite alternate configurations. Ingeniously moving between past and present and through the intricacies of her characters’ thoughts and interactions, Tessa Hadley once again “crystallizes the atmosphere of ordinary life in prose somehow miraculous and natural” (Washington Post).

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