News | Short Story Prize 2019/20: Rachel Bower wins with ‘Against the Tide’

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The London Magazine Short Story prize 2019/20 awards first place to Rachel Bower, after her short story ‘Against the Tide’ impressed our panel of judges during this year’s competition.

The response this year was overwhelming, and we would like to thank everyone who entered to the competition. Submissions were read anonymously by our panel of judges, Alice Slater (Mslexia, 3 of Cups Press), Kit Caless (Influx Press) and Ian Sansom (The Guardian).

Steven O’Brien, co-editor of The London Magazine, commented:

‘In this time of isolation and uncertainty Rachel Bower’s story “Against the Tide” shows that the consolation of great writing endures. The short story is a difficult form to master but there were many strong submissions this year. “Against the Tide” is contemporary, playfully poised and vivid – held in the proportions structure, it is a heartening read.’

Rachel Bower wins the Short Story Prize 2019, photo by Jan Bella.

Rachel is the author of Epistolarity and World Literature, 1980-2010 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) and a poetry pamphlet, Moon Milk (Valley Press, 2018). She is a Leverhulme Research Fellow at the University of Leeds investigating the links between poets in Northern England and Nigeria in the 1950s and 60s. Rachel is currently working on a full poetry collection, and a British Library / Poet in the City Commission for Sheffield. Read Rachel’s acceptance speech in full here.

The full list of winners includes:

First place: ‘Against the Tide’ by Rachel Bower

Second place: ‘None of This Happened’ by Daniel Fraser

Third place: ‘Floating Yoda on the Right’ by Nick Petty

‘The quality of writing for The London Magazine Short Story prize was wonderfully high. I enjoyed reading the shortlist so much,’ says Kit Caless. ‘The top three stories vary greatly in voice, theme, scope and vibe, but they are all rattlingly good reads. “Against the Tide” pipped the top spot due to its affecting mood and atmosphere – a worthy winner in an excellent competition.’

As well as receiving prizes of £500, £300 and £200 respectively, the winners are to be published and will be available to read in upcoming issues of The London Magazine, with Rachel Bower’s short story featuring in our June/July issue. For more information regarding the print edition, visit our single issues catalogue.

The full shortlist, including those highly commended, is as follows:

‘Against the Tide’ by Rachel Bower; ‘An Account of the [War Heroines] of the First Independence War by [An Unnamed Soldier]’ by Isha Karki; ‘Crab Day’ by Daniel Marc Janes; ‘Floating Yoda on the Right’ by Nick Petty; ‘In case I am beheaded’ by Toby Litt; ‘L’After’ by Elsa Court; ‘None of This Happened’ by Daniel Fraser; ‘The Maid’ by Chiara Naomi; and ‘The Party’ by Rushika Wick.

The London Magazine has published short stories by some of the most well-respected literary figures over the course of long history, from Jean Rhys to Raymond Carver and V.S. Pritchett. Our annual Short Story Competition seeks out new voices to join them.


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