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Voting opens for the 2020 Costa Short Story Award: winner to be announced on 26th January

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LONDON, UK – Voting opened yesterday for the 2020 Costa Short Story Award, run in association with the Costa Book Awards. Launched in 2012, the Award is for a single short story, and is judged independently of the Costa Book Awards’ main five-category system. The general public is now invited to vote for their favourite from a shortlist of three stories, which can be downloaded either to read or to listen to via the Costa Book Awards website.

2,053 stories were entered into the competition, which is now in its ninth year: the most entries received in one year to date. Open to both published and unpublished writers, the Award is for a single, previously unpublished short story of up to 4,000 words, written in English by an author aged 18 years or over. Previous winners include Luan Goldie, whose debut novel, Nightingale Point, was longlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

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All entries were judged anonymously (i.e. without the identity of the author being known by the judges) by a panel comprising: Sarah Franklin, founder of Short Stories Aloud and Senior Lecturer in Publishing at Oxford Brookes University; Radio 2 Book Club producer, Joe Haddow; literary agent, Simon Trewin, and authors Adele Parks and Kit de Waal, herself a finalist for the Costa Short Story Award in 2013.

The judges have selected the following three stories which are now available to read and listen to at They are:

  • How Adult Conversation Works: Setting off on a mini cruise together, a mother promises her son her romantic misadventures are a thing of the past.
  • The Lobster Waltz: A young woman explores LA while, back in Dublin, her famous father claims an actress has replaced her.
  • The Person Who Serves, Serves Again: Sal hasn’t seen her brother for years, so why is he inviting her for a badminton match? Something is being played out, and winning isn’t quite the point…

The identities of the authors will be revealed after public voting closes at 5pm on Friday 8th January 2021, together with up to six more authors whose stories were Highly Commended by the judges. The winning author and two runners-up of the 2020 Costa Short Story Award will be announced at the Costa Book Awards virtual ceremony on Tuesday 26th January 2021, when the winner will receive a cheque for £3,500 and the authors in second and third place will receive £1,000 and £500 respectively.

Previous winners include: Anna Dempsey (2019), a writer and teacher based in London, who won with her first piece of short fiction and is currently completing her debut YA novel; Caroline Ward Vine (2018), a former magazine publisher from Kent; Newham-based primary school teacher Luan Goldie (2017), whose debut novel Nightingale Point was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020 and whose second novel, Homecoming, was published in August 2020; Jess Kidd (2016) from Richmond in Surrey, the author of two adult novels and one children’s book, Everyday Magic, published in February 2020; former headteacher Daniel Murphy from Stirling in Scotland (2015) and writer and PhD student Zoe Gilbert (2014) from Sydenham Hill, South East London.

2013 winner Angela Readman, a Newcastle-based writer and poet, has had two collections published – a story collection (Don’t Try This at Home, 2015) and poetry collection (The Book of Tides, 2016) – and her first novel, Something Like Breathing, was published in March 2019. Inaugural winner from 2012, Avril Joy – a former prison manager and now full-time writer from Witton-le-Wear in Bishop Auckland – has since published an ebook, From Writing with Love.

The Costa Book Awards is the only major UK book prize open solely to authors resident in the UK and Ireland. It also, uniquely, recognises the most enjoyable books across five categories – First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book – published in the last year. Originally established by Whitbread PLC in 1971, Costa announced its takeover of the sponsorship of the UK’s prestigious and popular book prize in 2006.

For more information on this year’s Costa Book Awards, go to


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