Literary students select crime story shortlist
UCLan and Comma Press announce eight writers selected for Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction
A group of literary students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have handpicked eight writers for the fifth Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction shortlist.
Five English literature and creative writing undergraduates have spent the past four months planning the competition and reading through 180 story submissions based around this year’s theme of ‘Crime Stories’.
The small team, which has worked in conjunction with independent publisher Comma Press and media partner Northern Soul on the prestigious project, has devised a shortlist of eight stories by writers from across the UK who are at varying stages in their writing careers, from first-time and shortlisted short story writers to published novelists.
The shortlist is: Kester Brewin, Guy Carter, Elizabeth Chakrabarty, Ailish Delaney, Mark Graham, Philippa Holloway, Louise Tondeur and Cate West.
Cate said of her shortlisting: “I’m thrilled to be on the Dinesh shortlist! It’s a competition which is both prestigious and inclusive, and I'm so happy my characters are finding an audience.”
"I’m thrilled to be on the Dinesh shortlist! It’s a competition which is both prestigious and inclusive, and I'm so happy my characters are finding an audience"— Shortlisted writer Cate West
Second-year student Cathy Browne was one of the students who was involved with the shortlist. The 36-year-old, from Barrowford, said: “I have loved being involved in this project. It was a privilege to be among the first to read such a collection of arresting and thought-provoking stories.
“Many of the writers took their own slant at exploring the theme of crime; examining not only the viewpoint of villains, victims and investigators but also looking at the perspectives of those on the side-lines of crime, those who normally only appear in the margins of other's people stories.
“Those were the tales that stayed with me for days after reading them. Choosing the final shortlist was very difficult, but I think we have compiled a strong collection, and I am excited for more readers to discover these amazing works.”
Twenty-one-year-old Annika Schuster, from the German city of Bamberg, commented: “Reading all the stories was the most enjoyable part. There were so many brilliant entries which made it quite challenging for us to choose the final list.”
Group Manager Maleeha Ravat, 20, from Preston, added: “Reading the manuscripts and discussing with my team what was memorable or what aspects of the stories fit the criteria was a personal highlight of this opportunity. As a member of the team and as a leader, I enjoyed working collaboratively and hearing others' opinions and individual thoughts. This internship, I believe, has given me insight into the publishing world as well as the spirited nature of Comma Press.”
"It was a privilege to be among the first to read such a collection of arresting and thought-provoking stories"— Second-year English literature and creative writing student Cathy Browne
The shortlist has now been passed on to the panel of esteemed judges who will decide the winner of this year’s prize. The 2022 panel includes successful crime writer Karline Smith; Tom Ashton, editor at Northodox Press who specialises in crime fiction; Dr Helen Day, UCLan senior lecturer in English literature and creative writing; and Kevin Bourke, writer for Northern Soul.
To ensure parity, entries will remain anonymous throughout the entire judging process. The winning writer will receive £500 and will have their story published online by Northern Soul.
All shortlisted authors will be featured in an eBook anthology which will be published by Comma Press and sold online. The winner will be announced at a prize-giving event in collaboration with Northern Short Story Festival in the summer.
Open to both published and un-published writers, this prize aims to seek out the best established and up and coming voices in the form, in honour of Dinesh Allirajah who passed away suddenly in 2015. Dinesh, who described himself as a jazz writer, lectured in creative writing at UCLan for eight years and was a long-term director of Comma Press.
Crime was just one of many themes/genres tackled by Dinesh in his work, and something he reflected on through his blog, ‘Real Time Short Stories’. Comma also has experience publishing crime fiction, having published two CWA anthologies during Dinesh’s tenure, and want to use this increasingly popular genre to reach new writers with this year’s prize.