Short Story Prize

For details about how to enter the 2023 Short Story Prize, head to this page.

Brick Lane Bookshop is thrilled to announce that entry to the 2023 Short Story Prize is now open!

Now in its fifth year, the Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize has been a continuing celebration of the short story form and a platform where emerging authors can exhibit their work. Since it began in 2019, over 3,000 short stories have been submitted, read, and judged, and 48 have found their way into the anthologies that we publish each year. We are proud to note that many of our alumni have gone on to find further success with agents, publishers, and other pathways in the literary industry.

Entries of original short fiction between 1000 and 5000 words can now be submitted via our website, where further details and conditions of the prize can be found. Entry is £10 per submission, and there are 50 free entries for writers on a low income on a first-come, first-served basis. This year we are introducing a new scheme which will give people the option to ‘pay it forward’ and make a donation for additional low-income spaces. The deadline for the competition is 5pm on April 3rd, 2023. The winner will receive a £1000 cash prize, with further cash prizes for 2nd and 3rd places, and 12 shortlisted entries will be published in the latest anthology released later in the year.

A fundamental principle of the prize has always been to draw attention to and support the growth of new writers, which is why we are excited to reveal that this year we have partnered with the literary agency Mushens Entertainment and the writers’ development agency Spread the Word. In addition to the cash prizes, finalists will receive feedback and guidance to help them with the next steps in their journey!

Director of Spread the Word, Ruth Harrison, said:

“As a fierce supporter of short fiction, Spread the Word is delighted to be partnering with the Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize. We’ve long been an admirer of the Prize anthology. We look forward to supporting the competition and working with the winner and highly commended writers.”

Juliet Mushens, of Mushens Entertainment, also said:

“I’m really excited to be working with Brick Lane Bookshop to support such a great prize – we can’t wait to read the exciting submissions which come through the door. I’m also pleased that we can offer feedback to the winning writers to help them on their journey.”

Another member of Mushens Entertainment, Kiya Evans, will be joining as one of this year’s judges, alongside publishing director of Zaffre Books, Melissa Cox, and author Gurnaik Johal. Johal also discussed his debut collection of short stories ‘We Move‘ in the latest episode of the BLB podcast. Johal explained that the kind of short story he is looking for ‘actively involves the reader,’ and ‘has space for surprises and uncertainty within set structures and rules.’

We are sure that the 2023 judges will find, as judges have in other years, an impressive range of creative, innovative, and emotive writing that exemplifies the versatility of the short story form and brings to the surface the nascent talent of our entrants. We cannot wait to read them, so start submitting!

In an effort to track our outreach and ensure that we are reaching a diverse audience, we are asking entrants to also submit an equalities monitoring form when they submit. These forms are voluntary, will be anonymised, and processed separately from any entries.

Brick Lane Bookshop New Short Stories 2022 was published on November 14th 2022.

Featuring stories from: Shazia J. Altaf, Avril Caprani, Imogen Fox, Emily Gaywood-James, Giovanna Iozzi, Bonnie Lander Johnson, Miki Lentin, Max Lury, Rosaleen Lynch, Yvette Naden, Hannah Retallick, and Martha Sprackland

‘Exceptional stories, each so startlingly different, yet all stay with you. A true celebration of the short-story form.’ Huma Qureshi

‘The BLB SSP longlist is testament to the breadth and imagination of a new generation of writers, and the elasticity of the short-story form. We read stories that were funny, sexy, deeply sad, and very strange. We read them
not knowing a thing about their authors, finding ourselves amazed again and again by the talent on display. It’s a wonderful list.’ Anne Meadows

‘The stories on this longlist showcase the range and excitement of the form – read them for their invention and imagination, and for their abilities to move, surprise and amuse.’ Chris Wellbelove

The Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize was created in 2019 as a celebration of the short story form and the resilience of independent booksellers. Funded by Brick Lane Bookshop, the competition is open to all UK residents and seeks to discover, publish and promote new, exciting and diverse voices in fiction. The prize is run by former Brick Lane Bookseller Kate Ellis.

Each year we invite a writer, a publisher and a literary agent to judge the competition. From a longlist of twelve, they select a shortlist of six and three prize winners. First prize is £1000.

The twelve longlisted stories are published in our anthology which is available to buy from this website, Brick Lane Bookshop and many other good bookshops.

Previous longlistees have gone on to win and/or be shortlisted in other short story competitions (Isha Karki, K. Lockwood Jefford, Judith Wilson, Jack Houston, Leeor Ohayon), and be published in their own right (Huma Qureshi, Gemma Reeves, Melody Razak, Rosanna Hildyard, Alice Haworth-Booth).

Praise for our Anthologies:

‘The longlist gave such diverse reading pleasures, yet every story, without exception, allowed me to enter worlds which felt carefully realised and full of possibility. As a short story writer and reader, I don’t need much convincing of the special power of the form, but these entries confirmed it once more – and most emphatically!’ Wendy Erskine

‘A joy to discover these fresh voices in fiction. This collection of stories is exciting in range and originality, both in subject and form.’ Elise Dillsworth

‘I was struck by the breadth, ambition and flair of the stories in the prize. This anthology presents a thrilling sample of distinctive new talent at work today and highlights some exciting emerging writers for us all to follow.’ Kishani Widyaratna

‘Full of verve, emotional enquiry and imagination.’ Harriet Moore

‘An illuminating and vivid range of stories from an exciting array of new voices already so accomplished in their craft.’ Sharmaine Lovegrove

‘I really appreciate the range and ambition on display in these stories. These are writers putting work into voice and craft rather than relying on event alone, and that’s what makes their work persist in the mind.’ Chris Power

‘An amazingly diverse list. All the stories have their own unique energy, originality and power.’ Zoe Gilbert

‘Eclectic, accomplished, bursting with life – the Brick Lane Bookshop Short Story Prize is an act of literature in discovery. It pushes and pulls the reader in all sorts of directions, yet remains centred around one consistent premise: the joy of the written word.’ Kit Caless

‘Arrives and lands with thrilling confidence, quickly establishing an atmosphere that is subtle but indelible.’ Emma Paterson on the 2019 winner

‘One of the best multi-author short-story collections that I have read in recent years. The 2019 Longlist achieved an impressive feat, demonstrating the variety and power of the form.’ Jarred McGinnis

The BLB Podcast

The BLB Podcast is a new project from Brick Lane Bookshop where we interrogate the short story form. We talk about why we love short stories, the writing process and how to get published.

Guests so far: Isha Karki, Aoife Inman, Jarred McGinnis, Jem Calder, Wendy Erskine, Leon Craig, Niamh Mulvey, Huma Qureshi, Ben Pester, Vanessa Onwuemezi, Keith Ridgway, Irenosen Okojie and Manuel Muñoz.

Latest episode: We Move with Gurnaik Johal

Listen here, or on your preferred podcast app:

MIR PODCAST: Listen to 2020 1st Prize winner Alice Haworth-Booth chat to our bookseller/SSP director Kate Ellis and MIR’s Peter J Coles about her winning story ‘The Closed Door’, writing, climate change and books.

PODCAST: Listen to 2019 1st Prize winner James Mitchell chat to Short Story Prize Project Manager Kate Ellis and MIR’s Peter J Coles about his winning story ‘A Body is An Empty Vessel’, writing, ASMR, and books.

Browse our short story shelves: