Winner of BBC national short story award is revealed

The author had been shortlisted for the BBC national short story award twice before clinching the prize.

The BBC national short story award winner has been decided for this year and the ‘masterful’ Lucy Caldwell has scooped the prize. The story, named ‘All the People Were Mean and Bad, has been hailed for its portrayal of parenthood, marriage, and a vision into an alternate life. 

In the story, the main character is a mother in charge of keeping her daughter entertained through a transatlantic flight. The title comes from a storybook being read to the discomforted child. “All the people, it says, were mean and bad. Except for Noah. Noah was good, and because he was good, God saved him,” 

The mother hates the book but is very aware of all the people around her, particularly an older man who is sitting next to the pair. He assures her that everything is ok, and from there the story grows.

Caldwell says: “I wanted to write about the distance between where we come from and where we end up; between who we think we are and who we turn out to be. Between what we dream, and what we do.”

Caldwell has been nominated twice before for the BBC national short story award. This tale, taken from the collection ’Intimacies’, is a very deserved winner according to one of the judges, Di Speirs. She says: “I’m delighted that one of our consistently accomplished and increasingly mature story writers, who is always so generous in her curation of others in the field, is this year’s very-deserved winner of the award, which was set up to celebrate those creating the very best short fiction in the UK.” It beat works by Rory Gleeson, Georgina Harding, Danny Rhodes and Richard Smyth to win the prize, which is worth £15,000.


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Written by

Claire Gordon

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