Folio at the V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize

We were delighted to be invited to the 2012 V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize, which was awarded on the evening of 14 November at the Courtauld Institute of Arts, London. Presented annually by the Royal Society of Literature to the author of an unpublished short story, it celebrates the unique pleasures of a genre V. S. Pritchett described as ‘exquisitely difficult’. The panel of judges – Penelope Lively and Jane Gardam among them – chose Carys Davies’s ‘The Redemption of Galen Pike’, the story of a Quaker woman who brings strawberry cordial and company to a ‘filthy’ prisoner in a Colorado jailhouse.

The event began with a lively discussion of the merits, rewards and challenges of the short story, chaired by Paula Johnson. She was joined by Rose Tremain, multiple prize-winner and author of the novels Music and Silence and Sacred Country, and Adam Foulds, whose credits include the narrative poem The Broken Word, recognised in the 2009 Costa Book Awards.

While Foulds commented that sometimes ‘it’s nice to be writing something that’s not a novel’, both writers described the peculiar demands of a form often seen as an easier first venture by budding authors. Voice must be established almost instantly, as must the action driving the story. The ‘ending’ must be inherent in the opening line, without the luxury of many pages to gradually evolve. And if the denouement fails, the reader may well be less forgiving than the reader of a novel, in which elements of brilliance can mitigate an imperfect close. But then, it is precisely these demands that make a good short story such a unique pleasure to read.

The newly published Folio edition of The Camberwell Beauty and other Stories is the sole collection of V. S. Pritchett’s work currently in print, selected and introduced by William Trevor. Pritchett's son Oliver wrote to us to say, ‘I think it is an excellent selection, with most of my favourites, and of course is beautifully produced.'

last modified: Tue, Nov 22nd 2011Bookmark and Share
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