2021 Short Story Prize

Thank you to every writer who entered this year’s competition, the response was astonishing. It’s been extremely difficult, but thanks to a brilliant team of readers, we now have a longlist of twelve stories.

Congratulations to our 2021 Longlistees!

Our aim is to celebrate short stories and to give writers encouragement, the chance of publication and some financial space to write.

We’re looking for new, exciting and diverse voices.

£1000 First Prize

£250 Second Prize

£100 Third Prize

The winners and longlisted stories will be published in the Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize anthology in October 2021.

The prize is open to all UK residents for original short stories between 1000 and 5000 words.

Longlisted stories will be read and judged by our panel: Elise Dillsworth, Kishani Widyaratna and Wendy Erskine

Elise Dillsworth

Elise Dillsworth set up her agency in 2012, and became an associate of DHA in 2020. She represents literary and commercial fiction and non-fiction, with a keen aim to reflect writing that is international. Previously she was commissioning editor at Virago Press, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group. She co-founded the Diversity in Publishing Network in 2005, which later became part of Equip. She has been a judge for numerous prizes including the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature and the Northern Writers’ Awards.

Kishani Widyaratna

Kishani Widyaratna is an editorial director at 4th Estate Books where she publishes literary fiction and non-fiction. She is passionate about nurturing bold new writing talent and is a longstanding contributing editor for The White Review. She has worked with writers including Raven Leilani, Sarah Moss, Mieko Kawakami and Julia Armfield.

Wendy Erskine

Wendy Erskine is a secondary school teacher in Belfast. Her short story collection, Sweet Home, was published by Stinging Fly and Picador. It won the Butler Literary Award, and was shortlisted for The Republic of Consciousness Prize and the Edge Hill Prize, and longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize.  Her work has been broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and 4, and RTÉ, and has been anthologised by Faber & Faber, No Alibis and Repeater, among others. She hosts a show on Soho Radio for Rough Trade Books and she also writes on music, clothes and other arts.

2021 Timeline

Submissions open: April 6th 2021

Deadline for entries: 22nd May 2021, 5PM

Long-longlist announced: July 2021

Longlist (stories to be published in the anthology) announced: August 2021

Shortlist announced: September 2021

Book Launch and Prize announcements: October 2021

How to Enter

Deadline for receiving entries is 5PM, May 22nd, 2021

Entry costs £10 per story. The proceeds of the competition cover prize administration, the cost of publishing the longlist anthology and paying readers and judges. Everyone involved with the running of the prize is paid.

The submissions form will be on this page from April 6th.

This year, we have 25 free entries for low income writers on a first come, first served basis. If you’d like to enter the prize and consider yourself to be on a low-income, please email Kate at [email protected] using ‘Low-income entry’ as your subject header. Please note: these places have all now been allocated, if you’d like to be notified if this changes, email as above.

File Specifications

Save your entry as a PDF.

Use the title of your story, followed by your word count as the file name, eg: Bookshops are Great 1978

Your name must not be anywhere on the document. If it is, your entry will be automatically disqualified.

Please use the following:

Font – Arial

Size – 12pt

Colour – black

Line spacing – double

Number your pages.

Terms and Conditions

Stories must be between 1000 and 5000 words (not including the title).

Stories must be for adults.

Stories must be written in English.

Entries must be an original work of fiction by the entrant. Non-fiction, essays, memoir or poetry will not be accepted. 

All submissions are blinded to judges and readers. Your name must not be anywhere on your submission, if it is, your entry will be disqualified.

Entrants must be over eighteen by the submissions deadline, 22/05/21, 5PM.

Multiple entries from the same author are accepted, but each entry is £10. Each entry must be submitted using a separate entry form.

Entrants must be residents of the UK. This is to keep numbers manageable in the first few years of the prize. Proof of address will be required at the longlist stage.

Entries not paid for (unless the entrant has been allocated a free low-income entry from [email protected] in advance) will not be accepted.

Entries received after the deadline of 5PM, 22nd May 2021 will not be accepted.

Submission of an entry is taken as acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Your story must be unpublished and not scheduled for publication in print or online. Please let us know if this changes.

The story must be the entrant’s own original work.

Translations into English are accepted. Any prize money would be shared between writer and translator and both would be credited in the anthology. Please use the writer’s name on the submissions form. If the submission is longlisted, please inform us of the translator’s name at that stage and we will use both names on any listings and in the anthology.

Entries will not be accepted from members of the Brick Lane Bookshop team, nor their families. 

The entrant may have had other work published, for instance stories in anthologies or online, but not an entire book of their own work as of the submissions deadline of May 22nd, 2021. Entrants may have had a book published that is not fiction.

Longlisted and shortlisted writers will be notified by email.

No editorial feedback can be provided.

The judges’ decision is final.

The copyright remains the author’s but Brick Lane Bookshop have the right to publish longlisted stories online and in print.

Longlisted stories will be copy-edited before publication.

The story can not have won another prize but may have been short or longlisted.

We are sorry that unsuccessful entrants cannot be individually contacted. Sign up to our newsletter when submitting your entry to receive news about the prize.

Reasons for disqualification:

Entrant’s name on submission

Entry fee not paid (and writer has not been allocated a low-income entry)

The submission is outside the word limit.

The entrant is not a UK resident

Please email any queries to: [email protected]